tips for better travel photography

steve davey ladakhSteve Davey is a world-renowned writer and photographer based in London. His international best-sellers include Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die and Footprint Travel Photography, so he certainly knows his way around a camera and the world! Here are great photo tips from Steve to help you take better travel portraits…

“For most travellers the people they meet are the highlight of any trip, yet many struggle to come back with pictures that they are proud of. Following a few simple rules can mean that you don’t only come back with better portraits, you can have more fun taking them!

Be prepared: Once you have approached someone to ask if you can take their picture, the last thing that you want to do is start fiddling around with your camera. Make sure that you have an idea of what sort of picture you want to shoot and get your camera ready. Put the correct lens on the camera, check exposure and make sure there is enough space on your memory card.

Ask permission: You will get more engaged photos if you ask permission from people before you take their picture and then work with them to relax them and relate to you as the photographer. There are many techniques of approaching people, but I have found that looking someone in the eye and smiling is the simplest and most effective way. It is important to like people: they will realise if you don’t approach them with empathy.

Get in close: I find it more intimidating being photographed by someone from a distance than up close. This is more personal and can lead to more effective pictures. After all, you wouldn’t try to have a conversation with someone from the other side of the street, so don’t try to photograph them from across the street either! If you shoot from close up you will get more engagement in your photographs.

Keep shooting: Don’t just take one shot and move on: keep shooting. People often blink or look away, and you will be able to record different facial expressions and poses. This also gives you the chance to try different compositions and styles of portrait. If you are shooting digital, then show people some of the pictures then keep shooting. This can be a great way to approach people even closer.”

Steve leads his own travel photography tours, with land arrangements provided by Intrepid Travel. The next destination is the magical Himalayan region of Ladakh in India, and the tour takes in one of the fascinating masked monastery festivals. The trip departs Delhi on 12 July for 16 days, and currently costs £1495. For more details please visit

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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All good advice, but don’t forget that candid observational photography of people will give a truer picture than posed photographs. Take photos first, ask permission later. Imagine if all the images of people from the past were only ones where permission was obtained!

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