How to take better travel photos


Pro Stephen Alvarez shares his key tips for taking better travel photos, to help you succeed in an awesome photo challenge

Photographer Stephen Alvarez

Travel photographer Stephen Alvarez specialises in amazing shots of incredible locations. The National Geographic shooter recently took on a challenge to shoot the American West armed only with a Nokia Lumia 1020 – the most photographically advanced smartphone to date.

Now Nokia are challenging you to create great travel photos too, for the chance to win a masterclass with Stephen, a Nokia Lumia 1020, your photos featured on the National Geographic hub – and an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime to Puerto Rico to shoot with Nokia’s game-changing cameraphone. To find out more, check out the challenge.

Before you do, here are Stephen Alvarez’s top five travel photography tips to help you get the most from your location shots.

1.    Have a fail-safe camera, lens and smartphone that you always pack

“For any assignment I always pack Canon 5D MK III cameras, a 35mm f1.4 lens and my Nokia Lumia 1020.”

2.    Keep expensive equipment discreet while travelling

“Get a camera bag that doesn’t scream ‘Camera bag!’. I use the Thinktank Photo CityWalker series.”

3.    Dress appropriately and have clothes and footwear for different terrain and climates

“Do some research and make sure you have the right sort of clothes for where you are going. When travelling as a photographer, less is more.”

4.    Hire good local guides to get you to those breath-taking beauty spots safely

“A guide is critical to getting to good locations and often your guide will be the difference between a successful assignment and an unsuccessful one. Ask around. Almost all the guides I hire come recommended by other photographers.”

5.    Digital photos on the go – save your work

“I back-up obsessively in the field. Every day, without fail, sometimes twice a day… I am not happy until each day’s take is saved on three separate hard drives. Every evening I download all the photographs I’ve shot during the day and then make back-up copies” 

For more tips on how to shoot the world’s most inspiring locations, you can find an interview with Stephen in issue 136 of Digital Photographer, which can be purchased via our iTunes app.

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