To be a photographer, you have to act like a photographer

When you’re backpacking and travelling, you’re opening yourself up to some of the world’s most stunning sights and attractions. On any round the world trip, you could find yourself standing in front of the terrific Taj Mahal in India, overlooking the ancient ruins of magical Machu Picchu in Peru, or feeling the full force of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe; obviously you’ll want to capture the moment.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a camera phone, a simple compact camera, or an advanced DSLR, the important thing is that you use it. After all, when you’re surrounded by beauty, the photos almost take themselves. However, to be a photographer, you have to act like a photographer, and that comes down to mentality more than anything else.

Here are some simple tips on acting like a photographer, and hopefully they’ll help you take some super snaps.

Act like a photographer

Be Creative

One of the greatest things about being on the road is you can’t help but be inspired and influenced by what you’re seeing and experiencing every day. How does that translate to photography? It lets you be creative.

Don’t just point, click and move on, but really think about each and every shot before taking it. Think about the light and the shadows; think about the colours and the composition; think about what’s going on in the photo. Trust me when I say this, but you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands when you’re travelling; use it wisely and experiment with different apertures and exposures. You’ll quickly teach yourself what your camera is capable of, and you’ll quickly learn what each setting does.

If you see something that gives you that flash of inspiration, don’t just think “huh, that’s cool” and move on, but think, “actually, that is cool. If I take a photo at this angle I can get a completely different perspective.” You really do have to train yourself to view everything through the eye of a photographer.

At An Adventurous World, all three of us are photographers. Do we ever take the same photo? Never! That’s because the three of us think differently, think differently, and that translates into our photos too. Brian is incredibly artistic, Brianna captures people’s spirits, and I capture unique moments, but we are all different.

Be creative with your shots

Use People

On a round the world trip, you’re going to meet a million and one people, and even if you’re travelling on your own, you certainly won’t be for long.

If you’re already travelling with someone, use them in your photos. A model can really bring a photo to life, and again, if you experiment and practice with different compositions, you’ll soon be taking photos that are perfect for any blog or website.

However, don’t just get your friend to pose, take a photo and move on, but get them to do something. Everybody does the former, not everybody does the latter.

When I see staged photos of people, I always think to myself “aww, that’s nice”, and two seconds later I’m onto the next photo. When I see a photo of someone in a reflected pool of water, or of their blowing in the wind, then I really pause and look.

Saying that though, one photo opportunity that you can’t miss up on is group photos. You’ll be surprised at how hard these are to find on the internet, so make sure you get as many group shots as you can.

Use your surroundings and make sure you take your time

Take Your Time

Once you’ve seen something and you’ve captured it, make sure you’re happy with the results. Don’t just take the photo and move on, but check what it looks like on your camera’s display. I know that sounds obviously, but it’s all too easy to take a photo and walk on, only to get back to your hostel, look through all the photos you’ve taken that day, and find that the one photo you really wanted to capture is blurred.

Take your time. If you’ve imagined a picture in your mind’s eye, and you know exactly what you want, then make sure you get it!

Also, get yourself a 32gb / 64gb memory card and use the shotgun effect; if you take numerous pictures then you’ll know one or two of them will be keepers.

Don’t Delete

This is always a contentious point, but don’t delete photos. Ever.

When I first went travelling, I was so hung up about memory card space and taking ‘perfect’ photos that I deleted everything that wasn’t. Over the years I must’ve deleted thousands of photos, and once you hit that button, that’s it, they’re gone.

I would give anything to have those photos back to me. Yes, they’re most likely to be blurred and rubbish, completely unusable in every sense, but they are my photos, they are for me.

People forget this, but every single photo can take you back to a particular moment, to a particular place, so don’t delete them because you’re just deleting your memories.

So there you have it, some simple tips on being a photographer while backpacking and travelling. Now go forth and shoot.

If you’ve got any travel photography tips then why don’t you let us know in the comments below? We would love to hear from you and how you get that perfect shot while on the road.

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I don’t know about not deleting pictures. I do keep them if they’re the only picture I have of a place that I’ve been to, no matter how bad they are. But usually, I take a couple of them and if I can already see it’s blurred, I delete it instantly and take a new one. Browsing through them and seeing too many black/thumb/blurry ones bores me so I try to sort through them as soon as possible.
I definitely agree about keeping them if they’re the only shot of the place, though. It’s all about memories.


Some great tips Macca. I have become one of those people who never deletes photos now and wonder why my hard drive is nearly full… I am very guilty of rushing my photos though, I worry the people waiting for me are getting annoyed with my inability to take one shot, but you’re right it is important to experiment with angles and exposures. Thanks for reminding me.


Great post Macca. Interesting to hear the ‘don’t delete your photos’ and ‘shotgun’ advice. I’ve always been told to only take shots you ‘know’ will be perfect and to keep your memory card clear by deleting anything that isn’t. I MUCH prefer your advice… you’re so right. Every single photograph captures a moment in time that is gone forever…. don’t just erase the evidence.

Going to have to share this one :).