Travel photography has changed drastically over the past few decades. Long gone are the days of film and dark rooms and here now are endless options for software and digital technology to take, edit and store our best pictures. Moreover, smartphone advancements have allowed the light-traveller to nix heavy DSLR, SLR or digital camera gear in favor of on-the-go mobile cameras, apps, attachments and lenses.

For those looking to optimize their travel photography in 2019, here are our best tips below:


Capture the Moment


While you might not have the perfect camera or accessories on-hand at all times, what you do have can capture the moment—which is far more valuable in the long run.

Pete Halvorsen, in an article for The Thrillest says: “While travelling through an airport, bus, train or just walking through a city, the ability to have your camera ready at all times is essential to capturing the moment. Sometimes that’s your point-and-shoot, sometimes it’s your mobile phone. The old adage that the best camera is the one that you have on your rings is especially true for travel photographers.”

In other words, be ready and observant. Focusing too much on what accessories you need might hamper your ability to express the culture and atmosphere around you.


Focus on Fewer Lenses


One of the drawbacks for photographers who use digital cameras is the extra weight and baggage they carry around with them while travelling. Many of today’s top travel photographers recommend pairing down your gear to suit your destination and activities.

Photographer Jeff Bartlett recommends pairing down to two lenses: “I’ve started carrying too much gear, but my go-to travel setup is just two lenses: 16-35 and 70-200. I think having the ability to shoot wide and shoot telephoto is important and I rarely shoot in the middle focal lengths between 35-70. I also always carry a tripod and an ND filter. I just love long exposure work and couldn’t imagine travelling without these tools.”


Invest in Smartphone Camera Accessories and Travel Packs


Meanwhile, smartphone savvy travel photographers have the advantage of being able to carry a wide range of gear in a light and compact set-up. Kiersten Rich, from the famed The Blonde Abroad blog and social channels never leaves home without her basics.

She uses an iPhone and pairs it with Pixter lenses and the Pixter Travel Pack, which comes with a smartphone tripod, wide angle lenses and more. She also recommends always having your portable USB charger in case outlets are not close at hand, in addition to a waterproof case for times when activities take you and your phone in or near water.


Know the Elements of Style


There are some basic tenets to photography that will never change, regardless of whether you are using your smartphone or a fully-loaded digital camera. Here are some of the more common ones:


Use Grid Lines

Many smartphones and digital cameras come with settings to turn on grid lines. These lines help you measure and align shots so they appear aesthetically balanced. More importantly, they help photographers follow …


The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds has been around for centuries and applies to art in addition to photography. The basic rule notes that a picture is divided into 9 equal parts, with 3 horizontal sections and 3 vertical sections for a complete grid. With this grid, artists and photographers can avoid putting the focal point of the image in the centre of the picture, and instead, move it off to one of the other ‘thirds.’ This draws the viewer’s eyes to the entire composition and ensures there is no wasted space.


Get Good Editing Software and Apps—but Don’t Overuse Them


You would be hard-pressed to find a photographer who doesn’t use editing software in our modern era. Technology has afforded us the ability to correct the imperfections that we so often try to avoid, and the results are pure magic.

Even the most advanced, published and esteemed photographers struggle to capture the light, drama, angle and composition that they had envisioned when taking their photos.

Luckily, with software and apps like Photoshop, Lightroom and Snapseed, you can add the missing elements in during the post-production. The key is to recreate the drama that you experienced live, without overdoing it. Scott Kelby, Photoshop artist and founder of KelbyOne, a photography education website, states of this issue: “It’s kind of like if you like your food salty, you make it saltier and saltier, you become immune to it,” he said. “But someone else tastes it and goes, ‘Whoa!’ ”

Too much of a good thing may do your photo harm, or worse, make it appear cheesy. The best pics manage to capture the reality and the drama while carefully choosing which imperfections to fix.