Travel Photography Tips

So, I will be the first to admit that I am no photographer. I took photography in high school and the assignment that my teacher was most impressed with was my essay on photography. What’s funny about that is my friend Patty and I purposely wrote super cheesy essays just for fun. So yeah, I am no photographer. Fast forward to 2010 and I am living in Europe. I know I’m obligated to capture these magical moments so I spend the next four years pointing my phone at stuff and hoping for the best. Selfies or it didn’t happen, right?

Well, now I own the travel agency, have an Instagram, Facebook page, and blog. My business relies on me to prove to the world I’ve got street cred. I need to present beautiful, attainable moments to potential clients in the form of gorgeous photographs. All I really have though are a couple folders on my mac labeled things like EuopePics and RandomEurope. I knew I needed to get better at travel photography so I contacted two good friends of mine and one fellow blogger (all great photographers) and asked them some questions.

Photo courtesy of Laura Frasse

I’ve known Danyel for a long time. Our husbands were great friends before they even knew us. We’ve been friends for about ten years. Danyel has experience in graphic design and photography. She lives in Germany and I can’t wait to see her in 6 weeks. I’ve mentioned to her that she should start a blog; she’s a wealth of information. Melea Stoltenberg and I have been friends for seven years. We met in Germany and she’s awesome. Melea owns MJ’s Little Muse Photography and has traveled all over the world. She and her husband whisked Jay and I away on our first trip when we moved to Germany the first time. I just met Laura Frasse through a blogging group on Facebook. Her pictures are incredible and I was thrilled when she responded to my request about answering questions for this post. All three ladies answered the same 4 questions and their brilliant responses are below. If you’d like to see more of the contributor’s work, their links are at the end of the post. I learned so much from these awesome photographers and I hope you do too!

What advice can you give for taking a picture of people at a famous location? For example, if you want to get a picture of your family at the Eiffel tower or with a beautiful view behind them?

Photo courtesy of Danyel Burgett

Danyel: If you want to get a great picture at a tourist location with very little people in the background, I would suggest that you arrive very early to the location or very late. You will avoid most crowds and have the best chance at having the best lighting and composition for your photo.

The lighting one hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset is called the golden hour because the light is soft and warm. The golden morning and evening light creates amazing lighting for your best shots. Just think about it, if you were to shoot a location at high noon, the sun can cast shadows and can be so bright that your subjects are squinting. The blue hour is an hour after sunset or before sunrise, where you can find the sky blue with the city lights still on.

Melea:  When most people travel, they are rushed from tourist attraction to tourist attraction.  Of course you want to see as many things as possible!  If you want to take a photo at special location, make sure you take an extra minute to set up you photo.  Is everything from the scene you want in the photo

in the frame?  It is extremely disappointing to return home from vacation and want to print your photos only to find that someone’s arm is detached or you can’t see enough of the Eiffel Tower in the photo to see that you are actually in Paris.  Take the classic shot you have imagined or seen in other photos and then try new angles.  When traveling, I find it very helpful to take photos of signs before landmarks in case I forget when a photo is taken.  Sometimes whirlwind tours and jet lag will confuse your memory.

Laura: Pose the subjects in the sunshine in front of the location and then as a photographer move around looking for a great angle that will capture your family and the location behind them. Sometimes it is better to have the subject close with the location in the distant background rather than to have your family far away. They will end up looking tiny! 

What advice can you give about equipment?

Photo courtesy of Little Muse Photography

Danyel: Travel light. Traveling takes a lot out of you and carrying heavy equipment will make things difficult, but always bring a camera (not your iPhone camera). If you don’t bring the camera, you are 100% guaranteed to miss the shot! If my kids are with me, I give them a camera also, so that they can get perspectives and shots that I don’t think of. A kid’s perspective is always interesting. It also keeps them busy and engaged and off their phones!

Melea:  You don’t necessarily need an expensive camera or fancy equipment to capture your memories.  Most smaller point and shoot cameras will do a decent job.  However, you will want to carry extra batteries and memory cards.  Most tourist cities have shops that sell photography supplies, but you don’t want to loss opportunities to take photos!  Bring a sealing plastic bag to protect your camera, cards, and batteries from water.  

Laura: A tripod and a remote trigger can be a great investment!

What’s you favorite thing or place to photograph?

Courtesy of Laura Frasse

Danyel: I find that I love to take the shots that people are not paying attention to. I like to look at what everyone else is looking at and then find a different perspective. Look at the cathedral and then really look, are there storks in a nest on top of the cathedral? I always look down also, the floors in some places are amazing and nobody is looking at them! Change your view point to get a shot that nobody else has. Go up the stairs, stand on a table, get on your knees or get really close to take your photo.

After many years of traveling and photographing Europe with my family, I also have realized that every picture that I want to keep forever, is better if my kids are in it. Take the postcard photo and then don’t forget to put your family in a photo with the famous landmark because those are the photos you will really treasure and keep forever.

Melea: One of my favorite things to photograph is waterfalls and mountains (most go hand in hand).  I love hiking and finding waterfalls and all the treasures along the way.  I also love photographing architecture.  I especially like challenging myself by not using a flash inside buildings like cathedrals and night scenes. 

Laura: Nature! We live in Colorado and love to go hiking in the mountains and capture beautiful views along the trails.

What is one piece of travel photography advice you can give to the readers?


Photo courtesy of Danyel Burgett

Danyel: Research the shots that you really want ahead of time, take your time at each location, go off the beaten path to find the really cool stuff. Put down the camera sometimes and enjoy your travels. I usually take the shots I want and then purposely stand at the location and just look with my own eyes and not through the lens. Then I take it all in and enjoy the moment.

Melea:  Always plan for the unexpected.  Carry ibuprofen and drink LOTS of water.  See as much as possible.  Plan in advance.  Study the area you will be visiting before you leave and seek out other people’s advice and look at their photos.  Always ask a local.   

Laura: Start small and perfect your craft. We started with an iPhone and free editing app. Take lots of pictures and practice editing. Once you get the hang of it, move up to a “real” camera and editing program like Lightroom. But my biggest piece of advice: remember, its not just about the photo. A photo is a great takeaway of an amazing experience, but make sure to stay in the moment and enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Little Muse Photography

I really appreciate these ladies taking the time to answer my questions.  I learned so much and I love getting some different perspective.  Now I need a new camera!






Melea’s Info: Website:




Danyel’s Info: Instagram:


Laura’s Info: Website:



See all the contributor’s photos here:

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