Travel photography tips for your next vacation

Lisbon, Portugal [Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/9, 1.3 – On Tripod]

For me, the second most fun thing to do other than traveling the world and meeting new people has photos to share with others about my travels.

I hope you are making some vacation plans for your summer. Here are some tips for capturing your vacation and keeping them for the years to come to help you remember your travel and share them with others.

Which Camera?

Here are three solutions I recommend: 1) The Point & Shoot; 2) The Mirrorless Camera; & 3) The DSLR

The Point & Shoot

Me shooting the Nikon P7000. It has a versatile 28-200mm lens that ranges wide to capture landscapes and zooms to get close to the action. ISO up to 6400 and 5-way VR Image Stabilization System.

This is the newest version of the Nikon P7800. Click on the image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon, and I get a percentage of the sale. You pay the same price.

Now the advantage of a point and shoot is size.

The Mirrorless Camera

This is my mirrorless travel kit. Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.

This is the newest version of the Fuji X-E2s. Click on the image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon, and I get a percentage of the sale. You pay the same price.


Nikon D750

I recommend the Nikon D750 with the Nikon 28-300mm as a small kit that will let you capture just about anything. Also, many prefer the Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/4 since it is a fixed aperture.

What to look for in all three cameras:

  1. High ISO of at least ISO 6400 or higher
  2. If there is only one lens, I recommend a zoom that covers the 28-200mm range.
  3. Buy extra batteries
  4. Buy multiple Memory Cards
Use two hands to stabilize the camera

Now the Fuji X-E2 and the Nikon D750 both had wifi that let me upload to my phone using their Apps and then post immediately to my social media. Very cool!

Keep your camera steady

When taking photos, the #1 problem is motion blur. Hold the camera still and SQUEEZE the shutter release. Don’t punch it.

Sometimes when I am excited to be somewhere, I will take my shutter speed and crank it up to be sure my photos are sharp and not blurry from camera motion. The rule is your shutter speed should be at least a fraction of a second of the lens’ focal length.

When I am excited, I use a faster shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/500 to avoid motion blur.

Talk to people

James Dockery is talking to a lady on the streets in Portugal in our Storytellers Abroad Workshop.

Don’t stand across the street with the longest lens and take pictures of people on the other side of the road. Do go up and introduce yourself. Tell them why you want to take their photo. I love your outfit. I like the things you are selling.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/800]

While taking portraits of people are great, be sure to back up and take over all shots to help capture the place you traveled so far to go and see.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/11, 1/500]

Notice my shutter speeds are a little higher than maybe necessary. I grabbed shots and didn’t want them to be unusable due to camera movement.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]

Also, get super close. Please take photos of the food you eat and how it is served. Some traditions are different from where you grew up.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/300]

Don’t forget to capture things like the jewelry sold in the market and a closeup.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]

Be careful when you get super close. Your Depth-of-field will shrink. So the part of the photo in focus from front to back will get so shallow at an aperture of ƒ/1.4 that it can look out of focus. Here I shot the flower at ƒ/5.6. I could have quickly shot at ƒ/11, and the background would still be out of focus.

Carry extra batteries

Carry Extra memory cards

Carry them with you during the day

Every night is sure to recharge your camera batteries. Each morning, remember to pack the extra batteries and memory cards in some small case you can put in a pocket or a backpack.

Carry Pocket Size Moleskin Notebook

Get a good notebook. Mine stands up well to living in my pocket for a few weeks, no matter what I might be doing.

Carry a good pen

The pen must write with a very high level of reliability on the pocket notebooks that I use. “Dud” pens aren’t acceptable, nor are cells that sometimes choose to write only at a certain angle. These pens must be faithful and reliable, always writing when I pull one out to jot down a note.

I write down things like where I have been during the day. If I talk to someone, then I write their name down. Sometimes I get business cards and stick them in the notebook.

This is the screenshot of my software PhotoMechanic that I use to embed the text into each photo.

My workflow may be pretty different than yours, but I take time to be sure I put in the IPTC the location as well as some caption information so I can share this when I post a photo on social media, and it also helps me remind me where I have been and seen.

Book Cover – Buy the book on

Shoot for a coffee table book

While you may not do one every time, having something in mind will help you capture more variety.

Check out the link on the book above. You can see a preview of the book without purchasing online. Here is a blog post on producing a book I wrote earlier.

You can see how I combined some text with the photos to help me remember all we saw.

These are just some tips, and while there are many other things to share about the shooting, I hope this gets you started and excited about your travel plans this summer.