If you are a travel photographer (or any other kind really), you probably already know how challenging it is to consistently take travel photos with humans involved. It’s tough to do it with one person, let alone a couple! We’ve learned a lot about travel couple photography over the last few months so we wanted to share our tips with you.
1. Build yourself a mood board
It takes some time to figure out what kind of photos you want to take. What is your style? What’s the overall vibe of your feed? What do you want people to feel when they look at your photos? We found that the easiest way to build a strategy is to have a mood board. Take inspiration from others, organize it, play around with it, and add your own shots to it.
You can find our inspiration board on Pinterest here. We look at it every time we travel and take a lot of photos to get us in the mood and to help us stick to the feelings we want to capture.
2. Be genuine. Capture real emotions.
This needs to be repeated. Capture real emotions. There are so many bloggers, Instagrammers, travelers these days that simply look for the most visually stunning background and then just sit there staring blankly at the horizon (we’ve done this too in the past). Yes, people like pretty landscapes but no one is inspired by your contrived pose when it’s clear nothing about the picture was spontaneous or real. People want to look at pictures that make them feel things. Don’t treat your pictures as a checklist – pose in front of the Big Ben, pose next to this giant Buddha, sit at the edge of so and so viewpoint, staring. Think of the photos you create as living your life and documenting it, rather than living your life around scheduled photo shoots.
For this reason, we think it’s best to have another person take your photos. It’s even better if that someone is a close friend or someone who loves you or knows you well. Those are the people that are more likely to capture your true essence as a couple.
3. Buy a tripod
Now, we know that’s really hard. You can’t always travel with your best friends and you can’t hire a professional photographer to follow you around. So get yourself a tripod. We prefer this option to asking strangers on the street which is a big hit or miss. Most people you randomly ask for a photo will not know what vibe you’re going for. You might not feel comfortable enough in front of someone you just met. A lot of them probably don’t even know how to use a camera properly. So in most cases you’ll end up with pretty unusable shots.
That’s why we prefer to shoot with a tripod. Get a nice compact one that’s easy to carry around but also sturdy enough to hold your expensive camera. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on a nice camera, don’t be cheap on the tripod! You want your expensive equipment to be safe. Here’s a link to the one we use.
4. Frame the shot
When you ask a friend or a stranger to take your photos, be as specific as possible about how you want it taken. We’ve found that when we give detailed instructions to people and even show them an inspirational shot, we get much better results.
If you’re shooting with a tripod, take a few shots yourself first to figure out what angle works the best. Set up the tripod, secure your camera on it and you’re ready to go!
5. Set your camera to Interval Timer mode
Some people prefer to use a remote app that lets you operate your camera through your phone and take pictures with it. That’s a great option but it doesn’t really work for us. We find it awkward to have to keep clicking and looking at the screen. So we prefer to use the Interval Timer mode, which allows your camera to take photos without even being touched. We have a Canon camera so this mode might be named differently for other brands. Check out our equipment list for the exact camera, lens and accessories we use.
In Interval Timer we set up the camera to take 30 shots with an interval of 2 or 3 seconds. So every few seconds it takes a shot automatically until it takes 30 total. This allows us to just get in front of the camera, move freely and be authentic. It’s not as real as having a friend take it but it still works! Sometimes you might need to take a couple more sessions but usually we get a good shot in our first or second one. After that we get bored and start feeling posed so you can really see it in the pictures.
It will take you sometime to get there, so don’t get discouraged if your photos are not looking the way you want them to right off the bat. The important thing is to keep practicing and keep improving until you find what works for you. And don’t forget to have fun! Capturing real emotions always beats just being in a pretty place 🙂
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