Eight travel photography tips and tricks for beginners

Whether you’re shooting on a phone or camera, Liam Fawell has some travel photography tips for you. 

Whether you’re backpacking around Europe, on a family holiday in Fiji, or embarking on a bucket-list once-in-a-lifetime trip, one thing is sure: you’ll be taking plenty of photos along the way. Travel photography is a genre of content creation that involves documenting the landscape, people, culture, customs and environment of a particular place. From architecture, food and events, to urban and natural environments, animals, people and portraits, travel photography is a creative way to capture memories and moments while exploring new places. Liam Fawell is a well-travelled creative director, photographer, videographer and Nikon Z Creator, and he has some expert travel photography advice for budding snappers and experienced clickers alike. 

photograpger liam fawell
Liam Fawell

The best ways to capture the ‘essence’ of a location 

Liam says the best way to capture images that really communicate the essence or spirit of a location is to seek out subjects that resonate with you. “For me, it’s people. I also love capturing landscapes. Figure out what you’re most inspired by and naturally gravitate towards when picking up your camera. That should be your subject because if it interests and intrigues you, you’ll continue to shoot it,” says Liam. “Finding your style of photography while on the road and travelling is important. There’s no rulebook as to what the best things to capture are, so whatever feels the most authentic to you, that’s what you should photograph.” 

How to take travel portraits of yourself and your travelling companions 

Being ‘in’ the moment – and photographing that moment – is when authentic and real images are captured, says Liam. “When an image is authentic, real and raw, you can tell. It’s a moment being lived, and someone just happened to point a camera. Use your camera as an extension of yourself to capture fleeting moments with the people around you,” says Liam. 

aerial view of Fraser island
Fraser Island. © Nikon/ Liam Fawell

Travel photography rules 

Seeking out alternative perspectives, using photographic equipment you’re familiar and comfortable with, and knowing when to put the camera down, are Liam’s top three key rules. 

  1. “Travel light. On the road, there are so many moments that constantly happen before you. If your gear isn’t easily accessible and you don’t know it well enough, you’ll miss it. Your gear should be able to enhance your vision, not detract from it.”
  2. “Try and look at things differently. Change up your process to alter the way you look at things, therefore capturing different perspectives.”
  3. “Learn to put the camera down. Some moments are worth taking in with no thoughts about framing and composition. Take in the whole moment with every sense you have, not just visually. You’ll become more grateful for the opportunity you have in front of you to travel and document.”
Deserts of Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi. © Nikon/ Liam Fawell

Safety tips for travel photography 

The key to travelling safely yet functionally is finding equipment that strikes a balance between security and accessibility. “Camera straps and lens caps are a must while on the road, they’re simple, easy and will make a world of difference if something ever went wrong,” says Liam. “Always have equipment insurance, especially overseas, it’s an absolute non-negotiable.” 

The best lenses for travel photography 

“I’ve always been a fan of zoom lenses for travelling. My trusty NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 is always with me on every trip I go on. That range is adaptive enough to capture 90% of the frames I want,” says Liam. “I’ve also scored some incredible captures on my NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 on a couple of trips. If I have the capacity to bring that sort of weight with me, I’ll always do it. With film cameras, I love having a fixed lens for some shots, a 28mm or 35mm is perfect for little moments in day-to-day life.”

Whitsunday coastline and european coastline
Whitsundays and summer in Europe. © Nikon/ Liam Fawell

Liam’s top three iPhone travel photography tips

  1. “Just get out there and shoot. Learn what you like to take photos of then start to figure out how you can develop that further.”
  2. “Learn the basic rules of photography, such as composition, framing, lighting, and learn camera settings back to front so that if you were to use an actual camera, you could create the images you want to.” 
  3. “Explore, shoot, edit. Find inspiration and constantly keep trying to create imagery that feels authentic to you. “ 

Travel photography tips for beginners

“What makes a good travel image is completely up to individual interpretation, which is the beautiful thing about it. What someone loves in a photo, another person won’t at all,” says Liam.

  • Keep your subject towards the centre of the frame, it’s where the eye is drawn so you want the viewer to see the whole image from first glance. 
  • If you’re shooting people, focus on the eyes, it’s the first thing we all naturally look at. 
  • Think heavily about composition and framing. Although there are no rules, these things are what will make or break a travel image. 
  • Colour and angles are both very individual stylistic choices. Depending on the scene just think about how you want to tell the story and what feels authentic to you. 
Mountains at sunset
Mountains. © Nikon/ Liam Fawell

What’s the best time of the day to take travel photos? 

Whether Liam is shooting people or places, sunset is his favourite time to get out and about with the camera.  ”I will forever be obsessed with the dreamy light and colours that fall into my frame as the sun goes down and disappears below the horizon,” says Liam. “However, I’ve been loving shooting coastal beachy scenes around midday on 35mm because of how beautifully the light is captured on film. I’m obsessed with how that time of day can produce nostalgic summer feelings on film.” 

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