Travel Portrait Photography 101

I love travel photography and I also love travel portraits. Here are some tips to help you capture stunning travel portraits during your next adventure.

Create An Environmental Portrait

An environmental portrait is a portrait taken of a person in a situation that they live or work in or a place that says something about who they are. It gives context to the subject you’re photographing and often gives the viewer insight into the personality and lifestyle of your subject.

Be Ready For The Right Moment

Perfect photo opportunities often flash before our eyes therefore, we must be ready at all times. Bring your camera everywhere with you. If you are aiming for a more photojournalistic approach then timing is key. Be ready and keep your eyes open because any moment is potential for a great photograph.


Get To Know Your Subject

Try to establish a connection with your subject. Instead of approaching with your camera and snapping a photo right away, put the camera down and have a 10 minute conversation. Try to identify what it is about the person that fascinates you. It can be intimidating for some people if you approach them with your heavy-duty camera. A lot of people are camera shy but if you take the time to make them feel comfortable they may be more willing to be the subject of your photograph. Getting to know your subject first will create a more meaningful photo and help establish a story.

Ask For Permission

It is always respectful to first ask someone before you take their photo. Don’t be afraid to approach people and strike up a conversation. Most locals are happy to learn about foreigners. If you are nervous to approach someone, start with kids. From my experience, kids love having their photograph taken and they probably won’t let you stop.

Keep It Simple

A little goes a long way with photography equipment. A fancy camera and 5 lens’ doesn’t always equate to amazing photos. Pick your most versatile lens and go with it. I often try to travel as light as possible and if I brought ALL my equipment it would create more hassle and worry than I need. I travel with my Nikon d610, 28-300mm, and 50mm lens. The 50mm goes a long way especially with portraits.

Camera Settings

There is no right or wrong way to set your camera up for a portrait as it will depend on the effect you’re after and the situation you’re shooting in. I like to shoot with a larger aperture (smaller numbers) to keep my subject sharp and the background out of focus. Ultimately, it depends on what you are after and it is never a bad idea to create a variety of shots anyways.

Travel Out Of The Tourist Area

Once you venture off the beaten path there are great possibilities. Depending on where you are travelling, take a hike through the villages, explore the local markets, take the train out of the city to and explore a lesser known area.

Notice Your Light

Notice the light around you and how that will affect your image but try not to move your subject in order to avoid a too-posed photograph. You can adjust light in the photograph by changing your position or even just by having your subject turn their head to the left or right. Pay attention to the angle you are shooting at and how this can impact your photo.


What is the most interesting travel portrait you have ever taken?



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