5 Travel Photography Tips for the Postcard Perfect Shot

  January 25, 2017 travel posts ๐Ÿ•‘ 4 minutes read


Howler monkey. Chilling. In Mombacho, Nicaragua.


The low-pitched, deafening call echoed for miles.


I fully expected to see King Kong crash through the jungle foliage of Mombacho, Nicaragua.


Instead, I saw the guy you see above.


A Howler monkey. Lazing in the forest canopy.


Kelli and I have been blessed to see some amazing places and to capture fabulous images from our 6 year world tour.


I want to share 5 tips to help you preserve postcard worthy images.


1: Check Your Energy


Kelli and I were having fun, feeling the love of being in such a beautiful place.


As we toured the ancient ruins of Paphos, Cyprus, she snapped a shot which displayed the stifling, desert-like conditions in the area.


Brutal heat in Paphos, Cyprus.


Look at those heat waves enveloping the church and surrounding mountainside!


Amazing how the mirage effect of the brutal heat in this region distorted the photo.


We snapped this money shot because we were in the moment, having fun, and not desperate to get the perfect shot.


Becoming a good photographer is an energy game. Have fun snapping shots. Feel the love and gratitude of traveling to fabulous spots. With some patience, you will record a slew of eye-popping images because your energy aligned you with these dazzling pictures.


2: Check Your Lighting


Check out the other-worldly beauty of green, lush, Rivas, Costa Rica.


Gorgeous Rivas, Costa Rica.


I snapped this image at about 9 AM local time. From where we were located in the hills this was the perfect time to dial in to optimal lighting, courtesy of Father Sun.


Trying to capture the image at around noon would have created a flat shot. No crispness because the sun shined evenly on the landscape, providing me with no contrast.


Later in the day the images from our vantage point would fall in shadows. Meaning a lifeless, dull, plain photo.


For day shots, make sure the subject gets ample sunlight, without drowning out the photo in a ball of shine.


3: Check Your Subject


Kelli ensured my V-tapir served as the focal point. Without blocking out the sun. When she snapped this image in Koh Lanta, Thailand.


Me, my V-tapir and astounding Nature at play in Koh Lanta, Thailand.


I am slightly to the right of center. The sunrise is slightly to the left of center. Both subjects are aligned nicely to create an eye-popping, enthralling image of a Koh Lanta sunrise from the back deck.


Remember that every element in this pic has a part to play, from the Thai long tail boats to the bay at low tide to the bean bags and tables and the mountain in the distance.


Think of what you want to capture. Before you capture it. This helps you preserve a clearer reflection of the subjectsย  involved when you take the photo.


4: Practice Practice Practice


Practicing makes you a better photographer.


As you snap more shots you will preserve the postcard-perfect image. Like I did in Savusavu, Fiji, below.


Savusavu, Fiji sunset from the front porch.


I intuitively knew that the sunsets above the bay are breathtaking on clear, peaceful evenings but simply snapping thousands of shots over the years helped me record this image at the perfect moment.


Note the fireball-like nature of the setting sun, the subtle currents dancing about in the water and the lazy palm fronds tickling your senses in the foreground.


Again, I used no filters for these shots.


Maybe I cheated because Savusavu is one of the most pristine, beautiful places on earth but my photography experience and developing skill set helped me capture this photo.


5: Play the Angles


Some of my best shots occurred because I played the angles.


I either:


  • raised my viewpoint by positioning myself higher than the subject (via ladder or a few stories)
  • snapped the shot from the ground level


I crouched for this shot in New York City.


Bous and the Freedom Tower.


I positioned myself below Bous the Cat and the Freedom Tower to capture the image.


I also liked how the smudge-stained windows offer contrast to the brilliant sunlight, giving the NYC skyline some flavor.


Note; it helps to dive intoย a variety of tripods and support to choose fromย when establishing angles because not all settings will be as favorable as a quiet, comfortable luxury apartment 19 stories above the city in Manhattan.


Your Turn


How do you capture the perfect travel shot?


What tips can you add to this list?

  1. Ryan Biddulph says:
    at 11:29 am

    Come on, pretty pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

    The Universe drips with humor; this is the first post in eons where I actually built it around images, referencing them all.

    We will get ’em fixed.

    Thanks for your patience my lovelies ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Anda @ Travel Notes & Beyond says:
    at 9:49 pm

    You opened my eyes on something I never noticed before: the heat waves. Why didn’t I think of this before? Maybe because I’ve never been in such an intense heat. You are so right, these heat waves create a very strange effect. You can almost feel the heat that surrounds the church and the area around. But then there was something else that caught my attention: you were having fun, and were not desperate to get the perfect shot. This is actually when you get the perfect shot, when you are not desperate. The thing is though that I am ALWAYS desperate to take the perfect shot. I am always ‘on a mission’ when it comes to documenting the places I visit (LOL)! Great tips, Ryan. Keep up the good work.

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 5:21 pm

      Hi Anda,

      So happy to do some eye opening ๐Ÿ˜‰ I barely noticed the waves before the shot because we became so used to the effect in Paphos, by the historic sites, but it really popped once we saw the image.

      Agreed on the perfect shot. I find the best shots in the moment, when I am being, having fun, enjoying the process of being in a beautiful spot and playfully snapping these shots.

      Thanks a bunch ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Brian and Felicia White says:
    at 8:49 pm

    Awesome tips Ryan! Will definitely do our best to implement these on our next venture! Appreciate you! Never thought to reposition ourselves above or below a particular target but it makes sense. We have done it unintentionally though like when we went to Arizona and took a pic of Brian from the ground looking up at him and a palm tree. Turned out super cool and so we know what you mean looking back on it now. You Rock my friend. Sharing!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 5:26 pm

      Hi B and Flea,

      I had no idea what I was doing on those angle shots guys. I thought about some of my more dramatic snaps – including one in Bali where I placed the camera at ground level to preserve a picture of a smoking offering (incense) and figured it was a cool way to get good shots.

      We rarely view life from anywhere but at eye level. Going high or low, like your picture of Brian and the palm tree, gives us a neat change up.

      Thanks guys ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Donna Merrill says:
    at 1:51 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    You’ve got such cool photos.

    You’ve got the techniques down, and since you travel and blog from paradise… it’s really important to do.

    I live near the beach, so I know the compulsion to get beautiful photos even if they’re not the “perfect shot” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 4:48 pm

      Hi Donna,

      I can imagine the postcard perfect shots you would capture from your slice of paradise.

      Dramatic scenery, raw nature, beautiful area of the country.

      I look forward to seeing your snaps!


  5. Mark Newsome says:
    at 6:56 pm

    Wow Ryan!

    You definitely have some serious photography skills my friend!

    Those are some breathe taking shots for sure! I had no idea, you were
    so gifted in this particular area!LOL!

    And to top things off, as you and Kelli globe trot, you get to experience
    all of these breathe taking events, as they actually unfold!LOL!

    It simply doesn’t get any better than that my friend, now does it?LOL!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 10:37 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Seriously, I honestly didn’t think I could shoot for a lick until I decided to write a different style post here on BFP.

      I got to creating this sucker and realized I actually have a decent strategy and follow set tips – mindlessly prior to the post ๐Ÿ˜‰ – to snap neat shots.

      Now I am sitting in Qatar in the Middle East. Bright and early as we arrived at 3 AM and I am still awake at 6:30 AM…..time to scout some local spots for sweet snaps.

      Thanks as always.


  6. Emily Kydd says:
    at 7:20 pm

    You almost lost me with that photo of the monkey, dreaded animals they are!

    I am seriously trying to up my photography game this year, so these are some great tips! Plus, i think quality place-based or culturally based photography is getting more and more important with the major overload of ego-based travel shots out there these days (Travelling the world with perfect outfits for Instagram and dragging your boyfriend etc). I have always said I want the slideshow at my funeral to be epic, so it all starts with great adventures and getting those shots!


    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 8:20 am

      Hi Emily,

      Hahaha we love them but they can DEFINITELY be naughty ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Full transparency; never gave this post title thought until someone brought the idea to me. Then I thought through how I snapped my best shots, built an outline and took it from there.

      Agreed on mixing the selfies with non-selfie shots. To this day my selfies far outperform my nature or non-selfie shots because people want to live vicariously through me, seeing themselves in my shoes, and because I get a lotta love for all the love I dole out. But I still dig sharing nature shots or snaps of other folks – doing that a big here in Qatar – for a change of pace.


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