With travel on hold, everyone is barricading themselves inside their homes, and stepping out only for essentials. Are you missing taking photos on your travels? Believe it or not, you can use the coronavirus lockdown to improve your travel photography from the comfort of your own home.
Plan your next shoot, improve your camera gear, practise around the house, learn editing your photos, or enroll in some online photography classes. The more you know before you go, the better you can capture the world with your lens.
Below you’ll find my tips to improve your travel photography during the coronavirus lockdown.
1. Find your voice as a travel photographer
As a photographer it’s important to find your ‘voice’. Travel photography is such a broad term that can cover just about anything. Photographing landscapes, architecture, portraits, food or whatever, there are so many options! To really get passionate about travel photography you need to find what you love the most and focus on it.
Use this lockdown time to find your voice! You will grow much more as a photographer with a passion and direction than someone who just takes nice photos of the most photographed places on the planet.
2. Plan your next photography trip
Whilst at home during the coronavirus lockdown, you can use your time to plan your next trip and next photoshoot. Wandering around a new destination with no plans can be relieving, but being well prepared with research beforehand saves time so you can fully commit to photographing once you’re there, and maximize your time.
Start at home by looking online to get an idea of the type of photos you want to take and also what already exists from that destination. Some of my favorite tools for travel photography research are Instagram, travel blogs, and Google Image Search. Also don’t forget to talk to friends who have been there and to read travel guidebooks about the destination.
Every travel destination has its own look, culture, history, people, feelings, landscapes, and stories. Become more knowledgeable about which images will capture the essence of a place. If you’re interested in photographing local culture, try to make your visit coincide with some local festival or celebration, big or small.
Use all the information you’ve found to learn where the iconic photography locations are. Write down a short list of places or just some ideas for specific shots. Once you have this list, you can do more research. Work out how you can reach the locations, what the weather will be like, the best times of the day to photograph and if there will be any travel restrictions. Once at your destination, you can ask around to find more attractive spots and the best times to photograph them. Don’t forget to ask if there are any lesser-known cool spots where only locals go.
3. Practice your travel photography skills at home
There are still lots of ways to practice your travel photography while being at home. You can improve your portrait skills by photographing people in your household or you can practice your food photography. A pet can help you improve your wildlife photography and even the flowers in your garden can be wonderful subjects.
Another great practise is to use the time at home to experiment with composition. You can almost always come up with a better photo composition after some experimentation. Take that first shot standing up straight. Then try laying on the ground for a low angle and maybe climb up something nearby and shoot from a higher angle. Along with different angles, try shooting from different distances too. Start with a wide shot, then a mid-range version, and finally, get up-close and personal. Never be satisfied with your first idea for an image!
4. Improve your camera gear
Use the lockdown time to improve your camera gear. Make sure you know all the details for using your camera, lens and tripod. Read your manuals and keep your gear handy, so you can try out all those buttons, dials and functions that you didn’t know the purpose of.
Once you have a good grasp of your camera and lenses you can always extend your knowledge further by searching online. Not only will doing this allow you to understand your camera better, but it will also help you improve your travel photography, too. Spend a couple of weekends before your trip making friends with your new camera. You’ll be rewarded!
5. Evaluate your travel photography skills
Use the time you have at home to look through some old photos from your last trips and evaluate them. What’s good about the ones you like and what lets down the ones that you don’t? What could you have done better and what would you change if you could take a particular photo again? By evaluating your photos, you’ll be able to build up a catalogue of mistakes you’ve made in the past and how to avoid making them again.
6. Learn to edit your photos
There is a myth out there that editing your photos is cheating. There are some photographers who prefer not to edit their photos at all and some who edit their photos using software like Lightroom, Photoshop, or GIMP. Whether you decide to edit your photos or not, it will come down to personal preference.
In my opinion, almost every photo will benefit from some level of editing. This might be as simple as straightening the photo or might be more complex like adjusting the brightness, contrast, or saturation. The key is to enhance what already exists in the photo.
Use this coronavirus lockdown time to learn about editing and to improve your photos. Learn how to improve contrast, sharpen image elements, soften color tones, reduce highlights, boost shadows, minimize sensor noise, and adjust exposure levels using the software. There is a wealth of free information and videos online that can take you from complete beginner to editing expert.
7. Admire other travel photographers
As well as evaluating your own work, you can also admire the work of other photographers. Whether it’s on Instagram or contests, looking at other photography can be inspirational and can help to improve your own work. Try to figure out the settings that they might have used. Or the time of day that the photo was taken.
8. Enroll yourself in an online photography class
If you like to learn even more about photography, why not enroll yourself in some online photography classes?! There’s always something new to learn. I regularly invest in online courses and books about photography to improve my skills. You should too. You’ll become a more skilled travel photographer when you take the time to learn new techniques and skills. Just search for online photography classes and you will find plenty. Some of them are even for free like the one below!
I hope you enjoyed my guide to using the coronavirus lockdown to improve your travel photography. Hopefully you found it useful.
Do you have any questions about travel photography? Or any other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!