How often have you spent a vacation snapping photo after photo, only to find that many of them really didn’t turn out that great?

At the end of the day, there are so many factors that can affect your photos – and odds are that circumstances are rarely going to be ‘ideal’ when you’re on vacation.

The good news is that just because conditions aren’t perfect, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start to capture better photos. In fact, with the right technique you can overcome most of the challenges that you may face, and should see a dramatic improvement in your photos.

5 Simple Tips to Take Better Travel Photos

1. Try to Snap Photos When the Light is Just Right

Tips to take better travel photos: check the light

Picture taken in Iceland

In most cases, light that is ‘just right’ is when there is plenty of soft light that is diffused and evenly distributed over your subject. Ideally there should be no hard shadows or excessively bright highlights.

As you can guess that means you should avoid snapping photos in the midday sun if it is very bright. Similarly snapping photos before dawn or after dusk won’t be that great either as there won’t be enough light.

One of the best times to snap photos is actually just before dusk or just after dawn, during what is known as the ‘golden hour’.

2. Keep the Camera as Steady as Possible

Tips to take better travel photos: keep the camera steady

While you’re snapping a photo you should make sure the camera is as steady as possible and does not move at all. That may be tricky, but a good place to start is by holding the camera with both hands and keeping your elbows near your sides.

If you want you can explore other ways to hold cameras as well, especially if you want to get into different positions when capturing photos.

Another option that you may want to consider is making sure you have a travel tripod with you at all times. Find one that is portable, and can be set up quickly so that you don’t have to spend too long before you snap your photo.

3. Start Using the Rule of Thirds

Take better travel photos with a smartphone - rule of thirds

Rule of thirds – Picture taken in Nova Scotia, Canada

The rule of thirds is arguably the easiest composition technique to apply and improve your photos.

What is the rule of thirds in photography?

To start using the rule of thirds you should just turn on the grid feature that is present in most cameras, then position the subject and other elements using the gridlines and intersection points.

Think about what elements of the photo are most important, and try to position them at or near the lines and intersections of the grid. They don’t have to be perfectly lined up as long as they’re close.

When you are positioning elements using the three by three grid the subject will be slightly off-center which will make it look more compelling. All the other important elements should be spaced out as well, allowing the composition to be more balanced.

Keep in mind that although the rule of thirds is a very useful guideline – it is far from set in stone. If you feel you could snap a better photo by ignoring it, don’t let it stand in your way.

4. Find Unique Perspectives

simple tips to take better travel photos: find unique perspectives

Most beginners snap photos from a single perspective – head-on and at eye-level. If you want your vacation photos to stand out, you should mix it up a little and find unique perspectives that show the subject or scenery in a different way.

A good place to start is to position your camera near ground-level, or snap ‘overhead’ shots. Aside from that however you should constantly experiment with different angles, and snap a few shots from each angle.

5. Try to Photograph People in Candid Situations

how to take better travel photos - interesting action shots

Posed photos are all very well and good, but they practically scream, “Tourist!”.

If you want your vacation photos to look more unique, you should try to photograph people during candid moments.

Unlike posed photos, candid photos have the potential to carry a lot more emotional weight – and tell a story. That gives them the ability to be far more compelling than posed photos ever could be.

Make no mistake, snapping candid photos of people requires patience, a good eye, and quick reactions. Keeping your camera on a strap around your neck is a good policy, as you’ll be able to grab it and capture a candid moment much more quickly.

Conclusion: Taking Better Travel Photos Isn’t Difficult

Taking better travel photos isn't difficult

These tips to take better travel photos may sound basic, but they really can help improve your photography skills.

If you implement all of the tips listed above consistently, you should be able to capture some really amazing photos the next time you’re on vacation. Essentially you’d end up with the type of photos that you’d feel proud of when you publish them on social media, or even compile into a travel booklet PDF using the Movavi PDF Editor for example:

As you can see it isn’t that difficult to start snapping better travel photos if you know what to do. Still, the more practice you get the better you’ll be. Taking better travel photos takes time, but I hope these simple tips will help you improve your photography skills!

Also Read: In Pictures – Where You Should Travel to Next

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind


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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing (
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this blog to share some of my international experiences and travel tips.