Rules for Amazing Travel Photography
Photography / Travel

Rules for Amazing Travel Photography

Travel photography freezes memories from a journey past that you can look back on and enjoy for years. So, you’ve made it to somewhere amazing, and you know you want to capture it beautifully. But how? Here are a few simple rules on taking pictures you’ll love forever.

Rule of Thirds

One of the most basic rules of photography is understanding the Rule of Thirds. Imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it’s split into nine different sections. The goal is to place the subject of the photo into these sections and help frame the overall image. Instead of putting your subject in the dead center of the image, try to move it to another section of the image. Additionally, ask yourself: What is the subject of this shot? Where should I place them on the grid? I also recommend you play around and experiment with subject placement.

Utilize Depth

Depth is frequently overlooked unless you’ve trained your eye to see it. But when used correctly, it can give your photo that much more oomph. The key factors to keep in mind with depth are: foreground, middle ground, and background. More times than not, the middle ground will be your main subject. When this is the case think: What is between you and your subject you can add to the photograph to make it more interesting? What is behind your subject that can make a clean background?

Example from Paris, France

Utilize Focus

Focus is another element to consider. Focus is a way of telling your viewer exactly what they should be looking at or what they should see first. The focal point of your photo should be the main thing or subject you want your audience to see. This technique is great for isolating your subject.

Example from Denver, Colorado


The Framing technique is about using what’s around you to “frame” your subject, illustrating to the viewer the focal point of the image. This is an easy technique, but it may require you to scout out your subject and to view it with a different perspective. Additionally, don’t be afraid to stand further away from your subject and use the zoom on your lens to get the “frame” you desire. But don’t forget, your feet work as a great zoom too!

Example from Paris, France

All in the Details

I think we’ve all been traveling before and thought we would remember the details of the place. We take them in and think we will remember with the wide shot photographs, but when we get home we forget the details we loved so much. So, don’t forget to grab those detail shots with your travel photography so you don’t forget the little things of the place. And get bonus points, if you use all the other rules from above.

Photograph People/the Locals

People add another dimension to a photograph. Attractions are one thing, but it’s really the people, their experiences, and their culture that make a place. Photos without people often feel empty. If you’re taking a close-up shot of a specific person, you should ask them if it’s okay before doing so. Sometimes locals may not want to be photographed. Or, if you’re a bit shy like me, you may be too nervous to ask if you can take their photo and that’s okay too! Photographs from afar work as well. Additionally, chances are your viewers will connect more to the images with people than an empty street. This technique is one that I’m always working to improve.

Example from Austin, Texas

Always Be Ready

Good travel photography requires time. So, don’t take quick snapshots as you rush from location to location or you’ll end up with images just like everyone else. Additionally, always be ready as you’ll never know when the right image will come along. Take for instance the photo below, it was captured driving down the highway of Grand Turk.

Related: Ultimate Photography Gear Guide

Here are two foolproof ways to always be at the ready:

  1. Keep your camera out or handy. Don’t stuff it deep in your backpack. The easier it is to pull out and shoot the more you will be inclined to take a photo.
  2. Keep an eye out on your surroundings and not just the sights.


Example from Grand Turk