During the years I’ve worked organizing photo tours, I have seen a lot of things, and helped people take a lot of incredible photographs. My clients often ask me for tips on how to do travel photography well, as it is quite different from other types of photography, and so I have come up with a list of essential tips that I think everyone should keep in mind when heading on a photographic tour or workshop.

Great Travel Photos Require Planning

Some great photos seem spontaneous when you look at them, but the truth is, almost all great photos are a result of a time investment and good planning, not just a lucky shot.

When planning a picture you need to evaluate everything, look at where the light is coming from, how it falls, how it changes over the course of an hour or two. Watch the scene, see who comes and goes, how they stand against the background, and if this is the background you want. You need to pay attention because the devil’s in the details. Are the people coming from the same places, going to the same places? Is the motion more chaotic? You need time to notice some patterns about their movement. Also, what is the light doing, is it acting a certain way due to cloud cover, something that could vary greatly from minute to minute?

Get Creative; There are Options Where You Least Expect Them

Sometimes it seems you are confronted with a shot that is impossible to take. When this happens, it is time to get creative. Especially in travel photography, the scene is almost never going to be exactly what you want. You need to move around the space, see how the story changes with respect to your position. See which subjects suddenly become important or appear when they had not been apparent before. You may need to do a bit of actual climbing to get up or down from a subject, or wait, as I said in point one, to see how the light will change your shot.