If you want to capture stunning travel photography , you have to master composition.
A thoughtful composition is an essential ingredient in every great vacation image – so if you can learn to create beautiful compositions, you’ll be well on your way to shooting gorgeous photos of far-flung cities, landscapes, and much more.
In this article, I actually share with you my top eight travel photography composition guidelines, from the basics to more advanced techniques that’ll help you refine your skills.
Bottom line: Whether you are a beginner looking to capture beautiful travel photos or even an intermediate shooter trying to really dive into traveling photography composition, this article stocks everything you need.
Let us jump right in.
1 . Use structures to emphasize architectural subjects
One of the great things about cities and cities are the wonderful buildings and structures they feature, many of which sport fascinating pillars and arches.
Fortunately, as a take a trip photographer, you can use such elements to capture lovely frame-within-a-frame compositions . In other words, you can place one subject within an additional, just like this:
The result is beautiful because the “frame” directs the particular viewer’s eye toward the main subject, plus it provides interesting context and contrast. The frame can also provide scale (or even produce a fun false sense of scale, where the frame looks much larger than the subject, as in the image above).
So when you find a building you would like to picture, look around for potential frames. Note that you don’t frequently need to frame one creating within another. You can frame a building within itself , you can also capture a building framed by trees, bridges, car windows, etc .
2 . Use symmetry to produce balance
Journey photography composition techniques in many cases are excellent tools for shooting familiar subjects in different ways. One of my favorite techniques is definitely symmetry , where you find a point associated with reflection and mirror half the image across the composition.
Symmetry can work well for many travel-related subjects because there are reflective surfaces everywhere , yet I highly recommend you look for interesting structures near drinking water. This might be a beautiful constructing overlooking a pond, though you can also create amazing outcomes with puddles, car bonnet reflections, and handholdable showcases.
Whenever you include symmetry in a composition, the shot will often include good balance and a sensation of harmony (and reflective symmetry in a body of water also lends a feeling of calm and peace towards the shot).
3. Look for leading lines to draw in the viewer
As the name indicates, leading lines help guide the particular viewer’s eye through the frame, generally from the bottom of the composition toward the main subject matter in the middle or top (though leading lines can also proceed horizontally or diagonally over the frame). Leading lines also add a sense of movement, or dynamism , to a composition, which is always a good thing!
Often , when traveling, you’ll come on footpaths or cobblestone highways, and these look amazing while leading lines. Simply place the path at the bottom of your structure, and watch as it draws the particular viewer straight into the framework.
(For extra pizazz , try getting down low with a wide-angle lens; this will magnify the leading outlines to great effect. )
Actually, you can find leading lines pretty much everywhere, as long as you take the time to end and look! Rivers winding toward mountains, light trails turning toward buildings, jetties heading out to sea – every travel destination has a few, and if you can search them out, they’ll guarantee a beautiful image or two.
4. Get up great for an unique view
Every travel photographer should follow this suggestion at least once during their trip:
Get up high plus shoot down.
It’s easy to get obsessed with the subjects perfect in front of our faces, when you can get above the city or landscape, you’ll often find plenty of interesting elements: constructing spires, lakes winding their own way down to the sea, and more.
Even if your trek up higher doesn’t reveal any new subjects, an elevated position will help you think about familiar subjects in new ways, plus the good looks bird’s-eye-view photos just appear interesting and can help attract the viewer into the framework and toward your issue.
five. Use the rule of thirds for travel landscapes
Yes, the rule of thirds is a basic compositional guideline that gets discussed to death, but have you tried it in your photos? I mean, really tried it?
You see, the rule associated with thirds urges you to place key elements a third of the way into the frame, and I present that it works beautifully for the purpose of travel landscape shots. To put it simply the horizon in the top-third position, and you get a brilliantly balanced, dynamic image:
Of course , if you’re faced with a dramatic skies with interesting clouds, you might try the opposite: place the horizon on the bottom-third position, which will emphasize the sky and deemphasize the foreground. This can look stunning, especially when the particular sky is dark and moody or during a colourful sunset.
(If you’re not sure whether you should place the horizon along the top-third or bottom-third line, don’t fret. Simply try both and see which you choose! )
6. Place your subject dead-center in the composition
In the previous section, I talked about the value of putting key elements a 3rd of the way into the frame. But sometimes it’s great to break rules, and one of the most effective ways to create exclusive and striking travel compositions is by placing your own subject on the inside in the framework.
Each time a person or object is placed dead center, the viewer will be instantly drawn to the subject. And they’ll immediately understand the main theme and story of the image, thanks to the insufficient distractions.
If you’re feeling especially bold, take this further; combine some leading lines with your on the inside positioned subject to add perspective, dynamism, and energy. For instance , you might shoot a road that leads to a car or even mountain in the middle of the frame.
7. Add an interesting foreground element
Foreground elements appearance great in travel pictures, especially when using wide-angle lenses.
Why? Because they add depth to the scene. They show the viewer the area right beneath the photographer’s feet…
…before sweeping the viewer out there into the more distant sea, city, or mountains.
Travel photographers use this technique all the time in seascape and cityscape shots; they find a nice downroad element, like a rock on the beach or a bridge by water, they position it in the foreground, and allow it to suck the viewer straight to the shot.
So when you’re next out there with your camera and wide-angle lens, look for a nice foreground element to add to the shot – a tree, several flowers, a rock, a streetlight, or even just waves in the sand. Position it in the bottom third from the composition (see the guideline of thirds, discussed above! ), then watch being an ordinary image becomes unusual.
6. Use shapes and designs
Shapes plus patterns exist everywhere, plus an easy way to create travel images with more impact is to identify and use these features.
Right here, I’m really talking about becoming more abstract in your travel compositions. Don’t just photograph your own subject; instead, look for interesting shapes and patterns that make up your subject, then compose with them in mind.
When capturing the compelling tree, for example , most travel photographers will simply shoot the whole tree – you could elevate your image by framing some patterns in the leaves or roots. Some other examples of travel themes and subjects you can shoot along with interesting shapes and designs include water, architectural information, and even food.
Pro tip: While you can always photograph these types of elements with a wide-angle lens, it often helps to go longer (i. e., use a key length beyond 50mm or so). For especially distinctive shots, consider using a macro lens.
Take a trip photography composition tips: final words
How you compose your travel pictures will majorly impact the last image. By using some of the suggestions mentioned above – such as mounting your subject, finding top lines, and going a lot more abstract – your shots will instantly improve.
So have fun, and do what you can to explore your own different compositional options!
Now over to you:
Which usually of these travel composition strategies do you plan to use? Do you have any favorite techniques of your? Share your thoughts in the comments below!