Are you a photographer who loves traveling? Well, adventure photography is your niche. The mix of people and stunning landscapes is the perfect combination to create some incredible photos. However, it can be hard at the beginning. These are the 30 best adventure photography tips to get you on track to creating stunning travel photos.
The people, exotic locations, and thrilling activities are just a few of the reasons to start capturing these crazy moments. Every travel destination has a unique charm. Adventure photography takes more gear, time, and precision than other types to master. So, if you are ready to up your photography game, you must take some time to prepare. Adventure photography takes time to learn.
A camera is only as good as the photographer behind the lens. Once you know the basics of your camera, it is time to dive deeper into creating stunning travel photos. Use these adventure photography tips to improve your travel pictures on your next trip!
What is Adventure Photography?
Adventure photography focuses on capturing extreme activities in exotic locations. Dramatic landscapes, aerial views, and extreme sports are all part of adventure photography. Extreme activities range from skydiving to backcountry skiing.
Adventure photography requires a much different skill set than other areas. First, the photographer has to enjoy being outdoors, usually participates in the activity, and can handle risk for getting the right shot.
Many difficulties are present in this field of photography. Harsh weather, early mornings, and lugging camera gear up mountains can be quite a challenge. However, these are all worth it for the incredible views and photos!
30 Adventure Photography Tips
The following tips are perfect to start your journey to becoming an adventure travel photographer. The tips are broken into five categories to help you stay organized. Everything from your before you leave, to after you get back. First, let’s start with some tips to help your planning part of adventure.
Adventure Photography Tips: Pre-Trip Checklist
1. Adventure Travel Photography Requires Research of Your Destination Prior to Arrival
Capturing the right picture requires knowing your destination. When at home, you should begin to create a list of possible locations to shoot. These destinations include the top spots for sunrise or sunset, vantage points, and the local landmarks.
Browse the internet before leaving for your adventure. The use of blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, and travel guides. All of these sources can provide the top areas. Use as many as you can to get a complete picture of the location. If possible, you should try to talk to someone who has been there before. Also, you can reach out to other photographers through social media for suggestions.
Read as much as you can. Always be thinking about photography opportunities. The best list is one mixed of famous locations and hidden gems.
On your list of locations include directions, best time of day for lighting, what time an attraction opens, or how much time it will take to reach a specific vantage point. The creation of a plan is usually helpful when traveling. Best transportation there and how long will it take? Does your location require specific gear to get to? Do you have to get physical? Best time to shoot at that location?
2. Find Unique Shooting Locations
Famous locations are great to have, but start searching for more unique spots. Do not only head after the same picture you have seen a thousand times! It is okay to grab a few but never only seek the shooting locations everyone else does.
The worst part of shooting travel photography is arriving at a stunning location to photograph an epic sunrise with twenty other photographers. Sometimes all it takes is an extra 10-minute walk down the path to capture a shot completely unique.
And if unavoidable, just shooting the subject from a slightly different angle. Your shooting angle and foreground are crucial to capturing the right image. It can make all the difference. Remember, get creative and think outside of the box. Do what you have never seen before.
3. Dedicate Time to Adventure Travel Photography
The right image usually does not just come by chance. You have to be willing to work for it. Laziness will lead you to the same pictures as every other travel photographer. The last thing you want is to have the same boring photo as everyone else.
You must set aside time for your travel photography. It takes a solid commitment to creating amazing photos. Your trip will be filled with early mornings, long days, and grueling treks.
Travel photography is not easy. Keep this in mind when planning trips with others. Many will not understand the amount of time you must dedicate to capture incredible photos. Never let this take away from your mission!
4. Always Buy Camera Insurance For Adventure Photography
Here is a huge adventure photography tip: get insurance. Gear is expensive. Anything can happen out in the wild. Cameras get dropped, stolen, and soaked in moisture with the elements.
You can buy insurance at the time you purchase you gear, or you can use a company like Professional Photographers of America.
Whether you are traveling by air, sea, or land, unfortunately gear gets stolen while traveling. Always pay attention to your gear. Expensive gear should never leave your side. Discrete bags and hiding your camera in dangerous locations is a must.
However, gear does still break and get stolen. Register your products and keep receipts organized to speed up any insurance claims. For tracking stolen gear, use the serial numbers with this system to track down your stolen camera.
5. Back Up Your Travel Photos in Multiple Places
Pictures need to be organized and in multiple areas for safe keeping. Technology is not always reliable. Especially when you account for the extreme weather you will experience as an adventure photographer. You never want to lose all of your photos because you only had them saved in one spot.
If you do not want to lose all of your footage you must backup your photos as you go on your trip. There are several different options: online cloud storage, external hard drive, or dual memory cards. The key is for organization.
In fact, you should be able to easily locate all of your photos. Otherwise, you could spend countless hours searching for a particular image, or worse never finding it again. Organization will help you backup your photos like a pro.
Adventure Photography Tips: Camera Gear
6. Get A Travel Bag That Can Fit All of Your Gear
Elements can create a huge challenge with camera gear. Adventure photography requires a compact, durable, and waterproof backpack. A bag that keeps everything securely packed away and dry.
The worst is to lug around several bags. You need one bag that fits all your essentials. This is one of the best purchases you will make for adventure photography. The 35 – 42L McKinnon Camera Bag is perfect for every adventure.
7. A Light and Compact Tripod
A travel tripod is the perfect addition to your gear to avoid blurry shots. It is a requirement to get the most out of your camera. Tripods can be a life saver for low light, long exposure shots, better photos of yourself, and night photography.
If you want to capture better travel photos, then a lightweight and durable tripod is a must.
8. You need ND filters
A neutral density (ND) filter is placed over the lens to reduce the amount of light entering the camera. ND filters work as sunglasses for your lens. Thus, you can shoot at slower shutter speeds, in brighter conditions, without overexposing your photos. However, just make sure to have a tripod if slowing down too much to avoid blurry photos.
ND filters are a crucial piece of camera gear that should be in every travel photographer’s bag. An absolute must if you are planning to take any pictures during the brightest hours of the day.
ND filters can create incredible effects to your images at any time during the day. These are a must for creating unique travel photos. A 10-stop ND filter will work great as a travel photographer.
Investing in a solid set of neutral density filters is one of the best ways to upgrade your adventure photography instantly.
9. Get a DRONE!
Aerial views are awesome. Drones allow for some impressive shots, otherwise impossible to obtain. The unique angles can completely change the aesthetics of your photo.
Different compositions are able to tell a creative story. Remember, photography is all about telling your own story. A drone is a great way to capture a location in a new manner.
You can easily learn to fly a drone. So, do not let that stop you from adding this piece of equipment to your list of gear. Also, make sure to get your FAA Part 107 license for commercial use.
Adventure Photography Tips: Camera Settings
10. Shoot in RAW
If you plan to edit your images, you must shoot in RAW. A RAW image is minimally processed and uncompressed. RAW images keep all the necessary data for maximizing your post-processing edits on your computer.
Otherwise, you are able to shoot in JPEG if you do not plan to edit. A JPEG is a compressed file, much smaller, that is easy to take from in camera without the editing process. However, you compromise on quality when shooting JPEG over RAW. But if you do not plan to edit than JPEG is the way to go.
It is okay to start shooting in JPEG. As you become more comfortable in your photography, you can always switch over to shooting in RAW.
11. Always Shoot in Manual Mode
You can shoot in AUTO or MANUAL mode. Auto mode is great for beginners. The camera will be in control of the settings. However, it will significantly limit your ability to create a spectacular image.
If you want to take your adventure photography up a level than you must shoot on manual mode. With this mode you are able to control a variety of settings on your camera. You should be proficient with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. If you want to take the best images, you must understand the relationship between the three.
ISO is the artificial light added into an image. ISO must be kept as low as possible to reduce the amount of noise in the photo. Noise causes graininess in the image. The normal range of ISO is 100 to 3200. As you continue to climb upward, the image becomes too noisy.
Next, aperture is the amount of light entering the camera. Low apertures allow the most light into the image. Additionally, the lower apertures cause blurring of the background to create a depth of field, or bokeh.
The last major control is the shutter speed. The shutter speed is in control of adding light to the image, as well as creating a dramatic effect to motion. Fast shutter speeds are required for capturing quick movement. On the other hand, slow shutter speeds are used to create motion blur, like when shooting waterfalls.
12. Shoot with Your Edit Style in Mind
Always take your pictures with your edit style in mind. The best way to produce the image you want is to do as much as you can within your camera.
As you get more into adventure photography, you will begin to acquire your own style. For example, you could enjoy a light and airy look, or more of a dark and moody vibe.
The difference between styles will require you to change the way you shoot your subject from the beginning. If you like a dark and moody look, you will have to underexpose all your photos while taking them.
Keep your end goal in mind. This will require a different group of settings to get the aesthetics of the image you are wanting to create. The creation of the image you have in mind is best done in camera at the time of shooting. There is only so much that can be done on Lightroom, or any other editing software.
13. Choose Your Foreground, Subject, and Background Carefully
The subject, background, and foreground need to be properly placed into your photo. In terms of landscapes, make sure to take the picture at the right angle and distance to avoid cutting off certain portions of the subject. The worst part of a photo is to miss a portion of your subject, or background by accident.
Additionally, you can add a little foreground into your image. A small amount of leaves, or a little bit of rocks, directly in front of you can add depth to your image. Always be thinking about changing the combination of the three to create a unique perspective to your photography.
Another key point is to think about the purpose of the photo. Always try to leave some buffer room if you are planning to share your photos on social media. Different social medias have their own ideal dimensions. Additionally, if you are editing your photo and you realize the mountain is not straight, than this could cut off a portion when trying to fix it.
14. Strategies to Create Beautiful Composition
Always shoot from different angles to get the right image. Several composition ideas to put in your photos include leading lines, rule of thirds, and the right foreground into your photography. However, these are just suggestions. The best part of adventure photography is that it is an art. So, always be open to finding your inner creativity.
Use what is in your environment: roads, bridges, rivers, and trails are perfect for leading lines. Leading lines help to direct your viewer’s attention to the subject of the photo, whether it is a mountain or your travel partner.
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds help for you to create balance in your photo. First, break down your picture into thirds, horizontally and vertically. The breakdown helps to place your subject.
Adding grid lines and a center point to your camera screen are other adventure photography tips to upgrade your composition. These boxes will help with placing your subject, and keeping the picture straight.
Foreground can add depth of field, color, and contrast to your image. A powerful foreground has the ability to add a creative touch to your background. It is not always about just the background. For example, if shooting a mountain range, try to add a colorful flower to the mix. The use of different foregrounds can create an incredible amount of contrast and 3-dimensional feel.
You do not always need to just take a picture straight on. Try getting low, or climbing up a nearby structure to shoot towards the subject in a different way. Drones are also a great addition for creative aerial shots.
15. Take a Mix of Far, Mid, and Close-up Shots
When taking travel photos, make sure to include a variety of shots. Never settle for your first idea. In fact, you could decide a different type of shot fits the image so much better than you initially thought.
The best way to tell the story of the trip is to capture everything from a close-up of your friend’s face to the wide shots of an entire mountain range. All of the different shots help to tell your story.
A variety of distances can completely change your photography. Often, small details are missed when traveling. Thinking about a range of shots could spark a new creative twist to your travel photography. Capturing the beauty of a location involves a mixture of close, mid, and wide shots.
Adventure Photography Tips: While on Your Trip
16. Always Bring Your Camera
Prepare for the unexpected. You never know what opportunity will arise. Even when you think you will not use it, it is still better to have it on you. Being ready for anything will pay off.
Always be ready to capture a special moment. You may stumble across an incredible travel photo opportunity when you least expect it. The best way to create stunning photos is to always be ready for them.
Additionally, keep your camera accessible. If it is hard to take your camera out of your bag, than you are less likely to go through the effort. This can be very common when out hiking, or doing anything active. Make it as easy as possible.
17. Fill Your Memory Card
Do not worry about filling up your memory cards. Your goal should be to take as many photos as you can. After all, it is very easy to delete bad photos. However, you cannot go back to take more photos. Although it may be annoying to have more photos to go through, not taking enough can lead to missing the perfect shot.
18. Always Tell a Story With Adventure Photography
Telling a captivating story is one of the best adventure photography tips to create stunning photos. A great photo can share the emotions of an experience.
Storytelling grabs the attention of the viewer. Unlike just a simple image, a story inspires people and makes them feel emotion. While it can be a challenge to create these moments, it can have a powerful impact. As a result, you begin to connect on a deeper level with your audience.
With this in mind, leave some room in your photos for the viewer to ask questions to themselves. For example, lead your audience into wanting to know more about your photo. This will lead to more interest in your photography and is a great way to set yourself apart as a travel photographer.
19. Get Lost Off the Beaten Path
The best part of adventure photography is to capture your own version of a destination. Yes, some photos at the popular spots are acceptable. However, the real magic happens when you search for the undiscovered locations.
Make sure to explore. Is that not why you love to adventure anyways?
Getting lost off the beaten path on purpose is something everyone should be doing. Just pick a direction and start. If you really want to discover the true culture of a foreign place than you need to observe the locals. The locals will show you the hidden gems of any location, where few tourists often visit.
Skip the crowds and discover what lies underneath the hype. You will be thankful you took the time to discover something new.
20. Capture All Parts of Your Journey
Adventure photography tips include capturing images from your entire journey. You should never forget about the small moments. Often, you are so excited to reach your destination that you forget about the story leading up to it.
Your audience loves to see the “behind the scenes” action that lead to reaching an incredible landscape. Make sure to photograph all parts. The mix of the small moments, emotion, and difficulty all are just as important as a beautiful as a beautiful landscape.
What may seem uneventful can add a ton to your overall story. When you look back, you will be very happy you paid attention to documenting everything.
21. Timing is Essential to Specific Shots
Sunrise and sunset are great lighting opportunities for adventure travel photographers. However, other times throughout the day provide opportunity to create an incredible photo. It all depends on your subject.
For example, the mid-morning brighter sun is great for popping the blue in Caribbean waters, or reducing the dark shadows from an aerial shot of a tropical rain forest. Always be thinking about your subject and what lighting situation would be ideal.
Timing is essential for creating the most stunning travel photos.
22. Make Sure to Wake Up Early and Stay Out Late
Sunrise and sunset are typically the best times of the day for adventure photography. The mood, location, and weather will determine which is best for you.
The time before sunrise and after sunset is called the blue hour. The colors are cool, usually a mix of blue and purple. And the time after sunrise and before sunset is the golden hour. At this time the colors are warm and the shadows are filled with soft light. Once you start shooting during these times you will find it hard to take photos at any other time of the day.
Which do you prefer? Light is everything for great photography.
Either way, the real tip for adventure photography is to wake up early and stay out late. These ideal shooting times will make for some long days. However, you will definitely not regret this time spent to improve your adventure travel photos.
23. Get Ready the Night Before for Sunrise Shoots
Timing is everything. You need to make a plan. Sunrise shoots will lead to some of the best pictures on your trip. However, if you are not ready and plan accordingly, it is easy to miss out.
Sunrise photography, especially when in a remote location, will take some time to reach the perfect spot. Everything from directions to packing your bag should be done the night before.
When waking up, you will be ready to walk right out the door. You will never miss a sunrise shoot again. Instead of being rushed, you will have all your gear neatly packed, directions ready, and extra time for an occasional wrong turn. Another adventure photography tip is to always check your batteries.
24. Get to Popular Attractions Right at Opening
Popular attractions will be busy. If you want a great photo you must plan to arrive prior to the other tourists. Surprisingly, many people avoid waking up early. You miss the chance to have all the popular locations to yourself.
A little extra effort can make all the difference with your travel photography. Do what others do not want to do. You will be rewarded for your efforts. Arriving at popular locations at the time of opening can drastically cut down on the crowds.
25. Take Pictures of the Locals While Traveling
Photographing locals is often missed by adventure travel photographers. It can be intimidating to ask while on your trip. However, you should start doing this whenever you are in a foreign country.
Just break the ice to ease your way into photographing the locals. The best way is to start with a hello and strike up a conversation. Try asking them questions about the local area. Or check out some of their art work and hand-made goods. There are so many opportunities to make a friend. Many locals love to get to know tourists.
Prior to your trip, you can research the local language. Locals appreciate the effort. Either way, many locals are very welcoming to photographers. In addition, you can always tip them for their involvement, or find some way to help them out as a thank you.
The worst scenario is that they say no. Then, just thank them for their time and move on. Rejection is not too bad. It becomes much easier the more you ask.
26. Respect Other Photographers
Many photographers take their work super serious. As you should too! However, you must be friendly and respect the work of other photographers in your environment.
Do not be the adventure photographer that no one else wants to work with. Adventure photography is a great community to be a part of. Make sure to do your part to make it an enjoyable place.
Treat other photographers the way you would like to be treated. It is very simple. Share popular destinations, practice patience, and be aware of everyone’s shot around you.
Adventure Photography Tips: Invest in Your Skills
27. You Must Be Patient to Master Adventure Photography
Get used to being patient now. Adventure photography is all about timing and being in the right place. Weather, difficult locations, and distance can all make capturing the perfect shot time consuming.
Slow down and become aware of your surroundings. It is about looking around to find the right spot to shoot your subject when out on an adventure.
Small details can completely change your picture. Lighting, subjects, and the landscape can change quickly, so you must always be ready to get that 5-star photo. Patience is the king to creating stunning photos!
28. Expertise is More Important Than Camera Gear
Master your skills first. It does not matter how fancy your camera is if you do not know the fundamentals. In fact, you can have the best gear on the planet but that will not make your photography any better.
Expertise, skills, creativity, and dedication far outweigh the type of camera. If you really want to improve your photos, then make an investment in your photography skills. It will help more than the type of gear you have.
There is a time and place for expensive camera gear. Once you have the experience and knowledge, you can slowly start to upgrade your gear. This is because you reach a plateau. Only once you reach this time should you consider spending more money on your camera equipment. Otherwise, it will make no difference. Expensive cameras are great when trying to push the boundaries of photography. However, you must be patient, dedicated, and work hard to reach that level.
29. Re-Invest in Your Photography Skills
Consider taking an online photography course. You can never learn too much. So, investing in a course, or constantly seeking to learn new skills is a necessity for creating stunning travel images.
Always seek out to challenge yourself. There are so many different photography niches and a ton of information to learn. You can always use tips from another travel photographer. The more niches of photography you challenge yourself to learn, the more resourceful you become as an adventure photographer.
Additionally, go out and practice on a regular basis. It is hard to expect to create perfect images if you only use your camera when you travel.
30. Improve Your Editing Skills
Now you have learned how to take amazing adventure photos. You already use an editing software, like Lightroom, to edit all your travel pictures. The best way to keep improving your photos is to invest in your editing skills.
There are several ways to improve. You could start by watching some videos on Youtube to learn about more tools and advanced edit techniques. However, it can become overwhelming as there are so many skills to learn.
A higher level course could be the perfect answer to take your editing skills to the next level. However, do your research and find a course that suits your needs.
Post-processing is a crucial part to your photography. In fact, having great editing skills is more important than the camera gear you use. It can boost your photos from decent to exceptional with the right skills.
Time to Use These 30 Adventure Photography Tips For Your Next Adventure
These adventure photography tips are geared towards helping you improve your travel photos on your next trip. When traveling, documenting your trip should be a priority. You must practice and take a lot of photos to get the perfect shot. After all, taking stunning travel photos does take time and discipline.
Remember to tell a unique and captivating story that leaves your audience wanting more. Head off the normal path and go beyond what others have done before. Additionally, always be open to trying something new. The art of creating stunning travel photos requires you to be different.
Adventure photography is incredible. In fact, you are creating lasting memories for the rest of your life and telling a personal story of your journey. All these adventure photography tips will help you create stunning photos for you to share with everyone around you! After all, if you are ready to put in the work than you will succeed.