How to: Take frame-worthy travel photographs

Dubai-based visual artist and photographer Debbie Fortes (@debbiefortes) shares her tips on how to take travel photographs that you’ll want to share

CHOOSE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

If you’re a complete beginner, instead of lugging about a large and complicated camera, keep it simple by purchasing some lenses for your smartphone. “I recommend the BlackEye Lens Pro Kit G4 as its fisheye, wide-angle and telephoto lens options offer a lot of choice and therefore shots,” says Debbie. If you’re in the market for a camera perfect for travel but are fairly new to photography, look for something lightweight and easy to use, such as the Canon Powershot SX740. It has a long lens zoom that’s perfect for capturing shots from a distance, if you can’t get close.

 LOCATE THE HOTSPOTS

Prep your shots by listing the places you’re going to visit and would like to capture in advance. “I use Google Maps to plot the locations I will be photographing and, from there, I begin to plan what kind of shots I would like to achieve,” says Debbie. By doing some research beforehand you can get an understanding of the photography clichés that pop up often in each spot and instead look for ways to put your own spin on the shot. 

 FIND A LOCAL GUIDE

A good way to find unusual destinations and non-touristy areas to photograph is by linking up with like-minded people. “I do this by following the Instagram accounts of photographers who are based in the place I’m visiting. Quite often, people are very friendly and if you tell them you’re visiting they will take you to the ‘hidden gems’ of their city,” says Debbie. 

 GET THERE BEFORE THE REST

“A simple tip that can make the world of difference to your photographs is waking up early,” says Debbie. Especially when visiting popular tourist attractions, getting there before the crowds descend means you’re less likely to have people walking in front of your camera. Plus, you’ll have more time to take pictures from different angles. “What’s more, the lighting first thing in the morning is soft, meaning it’s easier to get a perfectly lit shot without shadows casting over your focus.” 

 SET UP THE SHOT

“Turning on the grid (you can do this on phone and digital cameras), will help guide you when composing images by showing you how the photograph is divided up between, buildings and the sky, for example,” says Debbie. “It will also help you to make sure your images are straight when taking photos of architecture or structures,” she adds. You can use your creative instincts to think outside the box. When it comes to composing shots, for example, try shooting a famous landmark through the trees for a different perspective.

 ADD SOME HUMAN INTEREST

As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words, so make it interesting. You can add a new level of storytelling into your travel photographs by including people in your shots. “If you’re out and about during the day and spot someone doing something you think would make a great photo, then don’t be afraid to ask. Most of the time people are quite happy to pose for you – just be sure to ask before you click,” says Debbie. When you return from your trip, the human element of your photos will provide an engaging talking point for family and friends who will be intrigued to know more. 

Check out Debbie’s travel photographs at debbiefortes.com