Top tips and expert secrets for taking breathtaking and creative travel portraits!
#1 - Research!
I can't say this enough - do your research before your travel! Definitely seek out the iconic and picture perfect sights, but I always recommend searching for off the beaten path spots. Whenever I travel to a new place (or even a place I've been to many times!), I always scour Instagram and Pinterest for new spots to shoot. On Instagram, I search through local hashtags and influencers, and on Pinterest, I search for specific neighborhoods/areas and go from there. You never know what you will find!
When looking for locations, I specifically look for bright colors and interesting architecture that will catch the eye. Below I shot Linnea on the scenic the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge in Portland, Oregon and Giulia at this fabulous wall outside Pietro Nolita in NYC - both places we found through researching unique spots in the city.
#2 - Go early
Avoid waiting for strangers to get out of your shot and go early. For public places, go a half hour after sunrise for the best light, and for places that have an opening time, be the first in line to get in. You will (hopefully) have full rein of the spot and more time to work your magic.
Below is Giulia at the Brooklyn Bridge and Kristi at the Top of the Rock. For both of these shoots we went at 8am before the sites were over run by other people! If you're going to a private location, book your entry ticket in advance (and also make sure to check their photography policy).
Pro Tip - Remove distracting elements
If you can't avoid the crowds during your shoot, opt to remove them and other distracting elements post production. This will give your shots that magical, wanderlust feel we all love.
#3 - Take a step back
Fight the urge to stand right next to, under, or in front of the monument, sign etc. you want in the shot. Instead, have your subject stand a couple yards away and make sure it's framing their body. For really large monuments and sites, opt to shoot from a look out area, like Kerry Park in Seattle for a picture perfect view of the Space Needle.
Below while shooting with Krisiti at Pike Place Market, instead of having her stand directly underneath the iconic sign, I brought her out towards the street so both she becomes the main focus while still including the sign. With Cassandra at the Seattle Great Wheel, we shot from across the pier to get a similar effect.
#4 - Take a different view
Go against the grain and take the picture no one else is taking! Experiment with angles by getting on the ground or trekking up high! Seek out the vantage point less traveled and you could wind up with fantastically unique shots.
Again at the Top of the Rock, I ventured to the very top observation deck, leaving Krisit below so I could get a great, almost aerial shot. With Sney on the right, we forwent the typical middle of the street shot in DUMBO and opted for a more casual shot on the sidewalk.
What do you love about travel photography? Where in the world would you want to shoot? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
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Karya Schanilec is a Seattle based photographer specializing in fashion, portrait, and performance photography.
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