Have you ever returned home from a trip and felt disappointed about the photos? I know the feeling. These top tips for how to take travel photos and not disrupt your trip will hopefully give some insight to help avoid this mishap. Something I’ve found more and more, is how much “getting the shot” can disrupt a trip and not be a natural part of travel. It’s easy to not be in the moment and get caught up in capturing everything. I like to avoid both: coming home with bad photos and not disrupting our trip.
Over the years, my husband and I have developed regular habits around photography while we travel. They’re easy habits, ones that we’ve learned through trial and error. I remember our first trip to Europe and looking back at the photos — we took thousands and most make me cringe. And regretfully I remember a few trips where I was so bent on getting the shot, that we ended up arguing and it ruined what could have been a beautiful moment. So with this in mind, I love to have a bit of a plan before setting out on a trip, when photography is top of mind and enjoying the trip is just as important.
Here are my tips for how to take travel photos and not disrupt your trip:
My first and foremost advice is this: know your equipment before you arrive.
Showing up in destination with a new camera that you’ve never used before is a recipe for disaster. There is nothing more single-handedly more frustrating than trying to figure out your camera as the sun is starting to set and the pressure is on. My recommendation is to know your camera inside and out before heading out on the trip, learn the key settings that will matter in moments where you don’t have a lot of time like: timers, multiple-frame shots, where the white balance is, and more. If you’re not sure of which equipment to get, check out this post on why I switched to Sony.
Weigh out how important the shot is verses being in the moment.
I know, it’s tough not to want to capture every single moment on a trip. But have you ever thought how disruptive it can be to your family and friends to have the camera out, especially if they’re not out taking photos too? I’ve learned this the hard way, and regretfully wish I would have put my camera away in some moments. My advise is to take your photo, get the shot effectively, and put your camera away to enjoy the moment. I couldn’t encourage you more to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean, sans camera.
If photography is important, plan your day accordingly and leave room for non-camera time.
With light being the main factor for good travel photos, my husband and I always wake up early and head out to shoot sunrise. We often go to the spots that we will visit later that day in harsh light so that we can photograph them once and then return without the camera in our hands. It’s a new habit but one I love as I get to see somewhere once as a photographer and once as a traveler. Little things like this can help to take travel photos and not disrupt your trip.
Keep your editing process for times when it doesn’t impact experiences.
In the past I would edit my photos on the go. I would send the high-res from my camera to my phone, editing while at a cafe, all so that I could get a post up on Instagram. I can’t count how many conversations I opted out of over coffee by looking at my phone. My new process? I don’t edit until it’s dark and I am alone. I don’t want to interrupt my husband and I’s dinner — editing photos and sharing on social media can wait.
I hope these small tips for how to take travel photos and not disrupt your trip will help you enjoy the most out of your travels. As a photography lover, I know the joy out of capturing a moment during trips but I think now more than ever, it’s so important we live in the moment with our friends and family. Moments like an intimate conversation over coffee or watching the sun set over the ocean are all things to cherish, and I hope that as a traveler and a photographer, we can enjoy both in a way that is meaningful.
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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: