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Great Photography is Not About Selfies

In a tour, group leaders often juggle a hundred different priorities. While overseeing a punctual, fun and well-prepared tour, few have time to orchestrate a travel photo shoot.

That’s where technology comes in. In the past couple of decades, photo technology has advanced so far that even novices can quickly snap postcard-worthy images. With a little know-how and practice, you can bring home quality photos that you can use in tour promotional materials, e-newsletters and social media.

Especially during the current pandemic, photography is an important way to connect people to the world. As people dream about their future travel plans, you can take the time to learn how to incorporate more technology into your photography. When regular travel resumes, you will be ready to snap a picture that makes viewers long to join in on your next adventure.

Starting at Zero

If potential travelers know that you personally took a photo, they will know it’s authentic, not a doctored promotional tool. To start taking more of your own photos on the road, first learn the fundamentals of composition. Even the most basic cameras can produce artistic photos using the right technique.

The three basics of photography composition are stability, light and the rule of thirds. For stability, try to rest your hand on something stationary or carry a lightweight travel tripod. Mobile tripods for smartphones allow for hands-free images and are barely bigger than your phone.

When considering lighting, try to take most of your outdoor photos in the morning or evening to avoid the midday harsh light.

The rule of thirds is used by professional photographers to place the photo subject along the left or right side of the frame rather than in the center, to make the image more visually interesting. An easy way to keep this in mind is to turn on your camera or phone’s grid feature, which displays the grid of thirds on your screen.

These tips just scratch the surface of photography. Take the time to educate yourself on more in-depth techniques by researching online. The internet is full of travel photography tips from online articles to YouTube videos to online degrees in photography. After learning these tips, practice them before your next trip to make them more of a habit.

Phone or Camera?

Once you understand some photography basics, you must first decide whether to take your group’s travel photos with your phone or a camera. Both can work well, depending on your photography goals.

First, find out the resolution of your phone’s camera. Unless you are printing out images bigger than 8 by 10 inches or viewing them on a big screen, you probably won’t need more than 12 megapixels. This is a great size for sharing images to social media or for basic prints, though you won’t be able to crop and edit as much as you would with a higher resolution camera, which can get up to 50 megapixels.

If you want more editing capabilities or need the images in print brochures, point-and-shoot cameras can take fantastic images and still fit in your pocket. Research some quality point-and-shoot cameras online to find some fully automated options that will allow you to quickly snap an image without messing with complicated settings.

If you want to dive deeper into photography as a hobby, plenty of digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras market to beginner photographers. These heftier cameras allow you to switch out lenses if you need to zoom in on wildlife or capture wide-angle scenic images. With larger image sensors and higher resolution, digital SLRs take professional-quality shots.

With online tutorials, you can practice with these cameras to quickly find the right lighting settings in almost every situation. Newer models even have built-in Wi-Fi that offers similar instant-sharing conveniences to smartphones.

However, these cameras still take more time to master and are heavier to lug around on a tour. If you are looking primarily for convenience, consider learning how to enhance your phone’s photo capabilities before committing to a more expensive camera.

Outfitting Your Phone

Not that long ago, people could usually tell if someone used their phone to take a picture due to the poor lighting and grainy quality. With advanced technology, affordable phones can now produce appealing images with ease.

To maximize your phone camera’s capabilities, keep a lens cloth handy while on trips. There is no amount of editing that will fix a dirty lens. To give your photos a more professional look, purchase an attachable lens for your phone at the fraction of a cost of the digital SLR camera lenses. From telephoto lenses to anamorphic lenses that take wider landscapes, these attachable lenses widen the range of phone photography possibilities.

Since most phone flashes cast ugly shadows, one of the only ways to improve lighting for a phone camera is with an app. The Pro HDR X app uses a process called high-dynamic range imaging, or HDR, to capture multiple shots of the same scene with different lighting settings. The app then blends them into a single image with deeper color hues and bright highlights.

After taking the photo, Photoshop, Movavi Photo Editor and other editing apps offer intuitive features for those that want one-touch photo enhancements. Group leaders should also carefully consider what photo-sharing app they want to use that will allow them to easily send links of their photos to the members of the tour.

Dropbox, Flickr and Google Photos are some of the most used for sharing, saving and organizing. These sites allow you to show off your perfectly framed, well-lit travel photos so your members will eagerly sign up for the next group outing.

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