4 Before-You-Go Ways to Get Great Travel Photos


Are you traveling to a dream destination? Bringing your camera? A little bit of planning beforehand will help to ensure you get great travel photos every time.

To help avoid any post-trip disappointment in what you captured on camera I have prepared a list of 4 tips for you. These are things you should do before you even head out the door.

If you invest a few extra minutes before you go on your vacation and follow this simple checklist, your photography will go smoothly and you will be proud to show off some great travel photos when you get home. Besides, you will have enough to think about as you leave your home and your camera equipment should be a grab-and-go thought.

1. Have a shot list in mind

The first thing to do is to study other photos of where you are going. Know the iconic shots.

A collage of 6 great travel photos taken of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
My shot list for the Eiffel Tower in Paris included several different angles of the same subject.
  • Decide what you want to capture. Write a list of the shots you want to take in a notebook. This shot list will be your photography journal. Keep your journal with your photography equipment.
  • Which pictures do you really like? Note where the photographer was standing. Pay attention to any special angles that the shot may have been taken from, such as a balcony. It will give you an idea of what you like so that you can apply your style to your shots. Include any ideas you have about a special shot angle you think might work for you in your shot list.
  • Depending on what equipment you have, note any lenses you will need to cover the trip. Make a list of these items and pull them aside from the rest of your equipment in preparation for step 2.

2. Clean your equipment

There is nothing worse than getting out in the field and nailing the shot list perfectly and then coming back extremely excited after a perfect day of shooting … only to find you had lens dust all over your raw files. Yes, you know how to fix them … No, you don’t have the time to fix them. UGGGHHH!

Clean lenses before shooting
Lens dust marks after a shoot in Sintra, Portugal is why you want to clean your equipment before shooting.
  • Take the time now to clean your camera, even if it is a point and shoot. This applies even if you cleaned everything the last time you used it. Things happen. Clean each lens you will bring on your trip. Don’t forget to clean each filter you will use, too. Clean the body as well and make sure there is no dust on the mirror or sensor.
  • Take a few shots after you have cleaned the equipment. It pays to verify that everything is clean and free from dust.

3. Create a packing list

Eiffel Tower Perspective Shots
Part of the “iconic” fun of the Eiffel Tower is perspective shots.

Once you have cleaned your equipment, make a packing list of what you will take and include serial numbers of your equipment. Remember to include essentials like:

  • filters
  • batteries
  • tripod (if necessary)
  • lens cloths
  • lens cleaning pens
  • cleaning fluid
  • journal
  • light meters
  • flash

Carry the list with you on your trip. Keep it secure, stored in a different place than your equipment. This will be important in the unfortunate situation where someone parts you from your equipment and you need to report it to the local authorities.

4. Pack your equipment

Pack your equipment now so that you’ll just have to grab you camera bag when you actually are running to catch the plane (hopefully on-time). The best time to pack is while everything is fresh in your mind and the shots you want to take are burning into your brain. This thinking process will help you to remember everything and then forget it as the trip nears. Nothing is worse than researching on the plane the shots you want and then realizing you should have packed that Fish-eye lens at 35,000 feet over the Atlantic.

Eiffel Tower Paris France
The Iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Now you can go and shoot away, safe and secure

With all your thoughts matching the equipment in your camera bag, you are free to roam about the planet, knowing that all your planned shooting needs are covered. One more thing: using your photo journal, record anything you find different from your research so that you will improve your research better before your next journey. A journal is a great teaching mechanism and will help you grow as a travel photographer beyond anything else except actually being out there shooting.

Happy clicking!

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Written by Dan

Professional photographer specializing in street, food and travel shots at As We Saw It travel blog. “Photography is unique in that it captures light in all forms, and since the Bible says YHVH (God) is light, photography captures Him in many forms.”

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12 thoughts on “4 Before-You-Go Ways to Get Great Travel Photos”

  1. I really need to follow #4 more often (correction: all the time). It is sad the number of times I have left the house with my camera but no battery and/or memory card. So many lost opportunities to capture the moment that I don’t even want to think about it. πŸ™

    • Oh, how I can relate to that! I have forgotten to charge my battery so many times that I finally decided to give up on carrying a camera altogether. I just write these days and let Dan do all the images. He’s a better photographer anyway.

  2. Good ideas! I never thought about looking at some photos of where we are going so we can get some iconic shots or get ideas of photos I want to do better. Pinterest would be perfect for finding these!

    • Agree! Dan loves Pinterest for that. I like Google images as well, partly because they lead me down rabbit trails. I like discovering new sights to check out when we’re there.


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