Have the Right Gear
The right camera that is portable yet high quality is the most important piece of your gear. Not everyone needs nor wants a professional camera with a lens so large it could hold a pint of beer. The technology is getting better in all cameras, which means you have many more options. I use a Canon Rebel XTi which has been discontinued and replaced with the fantastic “T” series. Fujifilm is also making quality mirror-less cameras that even have movable preview screens so shooting off the face is made easy. The next essential item is a tripod. No one wants to carry around a tall three legged inconvenient tripod but now there are foldable lightweight tripods perfect for traveling alone. The best ones on the market at the moment are made by Joby and are called Gorilla tripods. Extra memory cards are next on the list, you never know if you might fill one up with all of the amazing sights or unfortunately lose one during your travels. Always pack a camera charger on every trip, and make sure it has the correct wall adapter. Phone photography is useful too! Make sure you protect your phone with a Pelican or LifeProof waterproof case. Mostly I spill beer on my phone, but it still does the trick. The Lightroom iPhone app is free and easy to use for editing on the go.
Know Your Angles
Psychologically, our brains love order. This means that a photo that is lined up straight and has an accurate middle (especially important for architectural photography) will light up our brains in the areas that make us especially drawn to that photo. This is also an especially important concept when choosing a person to ask to take your photo: taller is better. We all know a higher angle is more flattering, and many times a much better option if posing in front of a monument or vast background, since the angle will capture more of the background.
Focus on Others and Architecture
A lot of times it is frustrating knowing you aren’t getting candid shots of yourself traveling the world, but don’t let that take the fun out of photography for you. Hone in on your own specific style of photography while traveling. I have found that since I am not so focused on taking pictures of myself or my traveling partners, I have a much keener eye for photographing strangers and impressive architecture. This is your time to get creative and take pictures that mean something to YOU.
Anyone at the same Kodak moment spot as you with a DSLR strapped around thier neck is your new best friend. Always ask someone who has a similar camera as you to take your photo, because that way they will not be completely lost on how to use it. When asking for a picture of yourself to be taken, be specific with your instructions. You aren’t being bossy, you are being clear with what you want out of this photo, and a helpful person with oblige. Also, always make sure you are the one asking others to take your photo, when other people come up to you and offer, it could be a red flag and they could intend to steal your camera, which does happen!
In reality, a picture taken by someone you don’t know probably won’t turn out exactly how you wanted. This drives me crazy because of my neurotic need for everything to be centered. The important thing here is to be open to the photo anyways. It might not have been exactly how you would’ve taken it, but you still got a photo of yourself traveling the world, so it is still valuable. I learned the importance of accepting these photos when I came back from six months in Europe and learned that the only photos of me traveling were blurry selfies I took. Something is better than nothing.
Learn How to Use Lightroom
Lightroom is an amazing Adobe Creative application that completely transforms photos. You can get it with the Photography Plan for $10 a month. It is extremely easy to use, unlike its counterpart, Photoshop. There are even free presets all over the internet specifically for Lightroom, and even more that you can get if you are willing to buy them. Many professional bloggers sell their own Lightroom presets, so you know you are editing with the best of them with this program.