Travel Photography is Tricky and Here’s Why

Travel Photography is Tricky. Here's our Polaroid and Canon Rebel

Yes, travel photography is tricky! I just recently came across this great travel and fashion blog called “Hidden Gems” and frankly, I’m a little bit jealous or maybe envious but also a happy. I’m happy that there are great resources there for travel information and travel photography. In my summer bucket list, I wanted to make sure that I improve my photography skills and indeed, this is a must. I just want to make sure that we deliver the right stuff here!

I’ve never really owned a DSLR camera (now we have an old one) and I’ve never really tried to take photos that much. I don’t even like looking at photos of myself but hey, we live in this digital sharing age right? But man, seeing the photos on Hidden Gem by Cristina really struck a chord. Here is her post on Rio de Janeiro – Brazil.

Travel Photography is Tricky. Here's our Polaroid and Canon RebelI wanted to start a travel and lifestyle blog that focuses on saving money while enjoying this great life. As a college student and part time academic tutor, I have always loved to find ways to enjoy life while saving money. The being-a-part-time-academic-tutor part relates to how I love inspiring the youth to learn. But hey, here we are on Nearby Wanderer: A lifestyle and travel blog by two college students.

Travel Photography Is Tricky

As travelers, we must focus on enjoying our trips. We must focus on learning from the place and from the people of that particular region of the world. But then, I still want to share photos from the trip that could possibly inspire people to take the same journey (with your own twist to it, of course).

You might not get the chance to shoot that great photo

So the question is: “How do we fully enjoy a trip when we are focused too much on travel photography?”

I still want to share with you the greatest content I can possibly write. I want you to be inspired but as a person of limited visual creativity skills, I fear that it might not be good enough.

It is very difficult to shoot photos while weaving through a busy street. It is more difficult when there is a certain schedule to be followed. Also, you’re more likely to find blurry photos on your smartphone or get camera shake on your DSLR. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out for you.

Although, you never know just what magic you’re going to get from a random shot. For example, sometimes we just point-and-shoot (actually, we don’t even point; we just shoot!) and we would later find out that we’ve got the perfect photo!

And they’re looking at you like you’re crazy

Now that we have an old DSLR camera working again (it was shelved for what it seems like a thousand years, covered in dust) it has been a lot of fun trying to shoot great photos. To tell you the truth, all of the travel photos on this blog are only shot with an iPhone 6s or my BlackBerry Passport.

Portland Pearl District Street Car travel photography

Is that nice lady looking at us? – While we were waiting for the street car at Portland’s Pearl District.

Let’s be honest here. Well, let’s be honest on two fronts. (1) First, phone cameras–just suck! You can never quite take a crisp and good photo or at least as good as a professional looking one. (2) Second, despite the quality of these portable gadgets, people don’t look at you as crazy when you’re just shooting a quick one with your iPhone.

When I’m trying to get a good shot of something, people are looking at us like we’re crazy. Well, I’m sorry locals… we’re merely tourists. Although, I hate looking like a tourist for some odd reason and for the same reason that you hate looking like a tourist too!

With old DSLR cameras, the LCD screen tricks you!

We have an old DSLR camera that we hope to use for travel photography. We’ve used the camera for other kinds of subjects but not yet travel related. What I’ve noticed is that when it’s a bright day (it’s always sunny in California), you really can’t tell if you’ve got your great photo just by looking at the LCD screen.

You might find yourself covering the LCD space and sticking your eye in it like a second viewfinder. And in my experience, I still don’t know if I’ve got the great shot I want.

So you might be tempted to just point-and-shoot!

When we’re in a new city, a new place, a new beautiful and magical kingdom–we just point our smartphones at the subject and shoot! There goes my confession. Most of the travel photos you see here on Nearby Wanderer are phone photos. But hey, we are about to change that.

Also, we just point and shoot with our Fujifilm INSTAX (like the one on the featured image above). Just so we could keep printed memories right away. Get your Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 8 on Amazon!

Portland North Park Blocks travel photography

A quick point and shoot of the Portland Park Blocks

Anyway, I’ll come out of my shell and just won’t give a hoot!

We are heading to New York soon and it will be the first time that we will bring our DSLR camera with us. I’ve studied (not extensively) the complexities of the camera and I hope that I get to shoot wonderful photos with them for you all to see. Just like the great travel photos online.

If people look at me weird, I shouldn’t be flustered or be ashamed. If anything, I should act like a professional or better yet just a human being curious about the beauty of their place.

These photos are of our memories after all and we are in the age of documenting our lives. To whose benefit? I’m not sure. If it is for our benefit, then it’s great that we can share these memories with friends and family. If it is for you, then I hope that we’ve inspired you to travel or do something in some way.

If you’re interested in travel photography…

Just do your very best. Learn from travel photographers and travel bloggers. Sometimes, taking photos for can be hard and tricky but put your heart and creative spirit into it. Don’t worry about the weird looks you get from a crowd of people.

I guess, if you’re really into travel photography then at some point, you really have to invest in your gear and accessories. Also, practice and practice more. Learn from others and stay inspired!

So I hope I get to deliver great travel photos and stories for you all!

I would like to say that I do take this blog seriously. We have many projects in mind all rooted in the idea of “inspiration.” There are so many travel bloggers there that inspires me. When I see their trips, I try to look for something to learn and from now on, I hope that you leave with something valuable or at least a piece of inspiration.

This would sound like what a politician would say: You just deserve better! I sincerely believe that. Why should you waste your time on the Internet looking at mediocre and insincere content? So if I don’t deliver the goods, I guess I will see in some statistical way.

What are your favorite things about travel photography? How do you shoot travel photos? Do you have any advice? (and I’m serious about soliciting for some)

  • chris


    Interesting touching base article. Travel photography is indeed special since “that opportunity” may not come again. Some times that is the downhill since by looking for a great photo travelers miss the “moment” too 🙂

    • Ron

      It’s all about the moment! Hope you’re well 🙂

  • Julia Bluhm


    I’m not really a travel photographer, but I can still relate to a lot of these issues! I often feel kinda silly carrying around my big dslr, and tempted to just take photos on my phone instead. But you’re right, they’re not as great quality.
    This was such a helpful post!
    Julia ||

    • Ron

      Hi Julia! Carrying a DSLR can be a pain but they do take the best photos. I still take pictures on a phone if I really can’t bring the DSLR. Better than nothing, I guess! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  • Nataliya


    (cont Pt 2) What I decided to do was to simply rent from Lumoid. 🙂 It allowed me to experiment with different settings and lenses and capture the perfect shots I needed depending on the setting.
    Let me know if you need any NYC recommendations FYI! Would love to share more tips but comment space is limited. 🙁
    Style Tomes

    • Ron

      Hi Nataliya! You did a Safari to Africa? How great! Did you get great pictures? I will check out Lumoid and see if it works for us. We’re in NYC and having a great time. We’re pressed for time now though and please share tips at least for our next trip back here. Thanks, Nataliya!

  • Nataliya


    Great thoughts and musings on travel photography, Ron!

    I’ve always enjoyed taking photographs on my travels, but I never really fully took it seriously until I planned a trip to a safari in South Africa. I had a Canon Rebel T3i at that point (a very good camera, but still an introductory model to semi-professional photography), with some decent lenses at my disposal. (cont.)

  • Ruxandra


    I also have a rather old camera where I cannot tell if the photo I took is sharp enough. Plus, it’s chunky and taking the photo with the phone so much easier. The majority of my photos on my blog are taken with my Samsung S6 which honestly has a pretty good camera.

    • Ron

      Hi Ruxandra! Yes, sometimes phones are just easier than DSLRs. Depending on the situation of course. But if you’re traveling, it’s much easier to just use a smartphone than carry a heavy/chunky camera! Thanks for dropping by!

  • Marie


    Great advice! I really want to get a dslr camera for my blog but I need to save up money first! Excited to hear about your trip to New York!


  • Jen morrison


    love this! I can totally relate! keep it up

    • Ron

      Thanks, Jen!

  • Thuymi


    Can you imagine I shoot in M mode even when I travel? A real pain even though I am trying to enjoy the experience! Plus camera is so heavy and you always have that right hand taken for the camera all wrapped around because you are paranoid! Going to Rio next week, a bit scared to be honest to do the same since it will only draw attention…

    • Ron

      Yes, I try to shoot in M mode as much as possible so I can practice. It can be quite tricky and difficult especially when you’re on the move. I wish you a great time in Rio and I hope you at least draw “good” attention! Have a great trip!

  • Jay


    Great post, if you’re new to using a DSLR, I’d recommend putting it into P (Program) mode, it will automatically select the best setting for you – but it also allows you to make changes if you feel it’s necessary. Once you want a bit more freedom, move to Av Mode (Aperture Priority) – where you’ll be able to set the aperture & ISO ; the camera will automatically set the Shutter Speed for you.

    • Ron

      Hi Jay. Yeah, I used to do P mode and AV but now I like having more control so I just go manual. Sometimes, I get a good shot, sometimes not. It can be tricky but practice is a must! Thanks for dropping by!

  • kittylimon


    great advice, it’s always hard to find a balance between enjoying the experience and wanting to share it through photograph. although in my opinion learning to use different cameras including using your phone in some situations takes practice and with practice you can take a great shot with any of them.

    • Ron

      I completely agree — We just need to keep practicing. And yes, finding that balance between documenting and just enjoying the whole experience is key. Thanks for dropping by!

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