Part of the appeal of living in Asia is travelling to interesting places and experiencing different cultures and photography is a great way to capture those memories and share the experiences. However, many people use a badge-of-honour approach to their holiday pictures: “here is me in front of (insert landmark or iconic view)”. Too many holiday photos are of people standing in front of things. This type of photographer seems to value evidence of the “experience” rather than the experience itself!

Improving your travel photography can be as simple as asking yourself why you are taking this photograph. What is it about the location that is prompting you to pull out your camera? If you want your photos to be more than a checklist of “been there done that”, then some consideration is required before pushing the shutter button.

Try a different angle

Most people shoot from eye level, so try kneeling or lying down, and shoot up. Or climb on a bench or up a staircase and shoot down from there. At least your shot will not look like the thousands that others have taken at the same location.

Photo 1 – Looking down on Fish markets in Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Get in close

People often use a wide angle to try and capture everything, but often these photos do not do the location justice. Instead, try getting up close to your subject or pick out interesting detail.

Photo 2 – Detail from Tian Tan Budda, Hong Kong.

Look for something unique

Try to find something different that defines the location.

Photo 3 – Children heading to school in Bhutan wearing compulsory traditional dress.

Create a connection

Photos of people are a great way to generate an emotional connection. Don’t be afraid to ask people if you can take their photo.

Photo 4 –Lady holding fish – Ho Chi Minh market

Combine these ideas

The best travel photos encompass more than one of the ideas above, providing an insight into the unique essence of a location or a culture.

Photo 5 – This sums up Hong Kong for me – lots of traffic, lots of people, old and new all stacked up on each other.

 Finally, take lots of photos! Although some of them will be lousy, with some thinking, you will also end up with some brilliant ones.

Post-holiday tip

If you want friends or relatives to enjoy looking at your photos, don’t show them all 263 shots! Don’t make the mistake of thinking photos that are important to you will be interesting to other people. Pick a very small number of photos that capture the essence of the destination, and keep the rest for your memories.

If you are interested in improving your photography come along to the ANZA click club. It is open to all experience levels and is a great way to learn from others.

This article was originally published in March 2013.