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How to step up your travel photography game

travel photography

I’m Grace, and for the past four years I’ve been a videographer, photographer, editor, and drone operator behind Grace Visuals. Originally a dancer, I transitioned into filming professional videos for choreographers and later pursued my dream of traveling and filmmaking. After building a portfolio in Bali over two months, I’m now recognized for my work in the travel industry.

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A Step by Step Guide to Filming the Best Travel Videos

A Step by Step Guide to Filming the Best Travel Videos

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How do you prepare for a content shoot?

To get ready for a content shoot for a client, start by clearly defining goals and deliverables. Find some inspiration from different photographers and brands you like, and check out some of the newest trends that you can make your own – this will signal to the algorithm that your content is relevant and popular, therefore giving your client a higher chance of being featured on explore pages and reaching a wider audience.

You should also plan cool and smooth transitions between shots, especially in videos. I like to make a shot-list on my phone ahead of time to make sure I don’t miss anything when I’m on the go in multiple locations.

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What kind of equipment do you bring?

I bring a Sony a7SIII, two lenses, a drone (DJI Mini 3 Pro), and a GoPro. When traveling, I keep equipment light and try to focus on only bringing the essentials. I use a 16-35mm zoom lens for versatility, and a 55mm prime lens for close-ups. 

The Sony a7SIII is my preferred camera for its filming capabilities, especially in low light, but there are plenty of resources on youtube to clearly explain what camera would suit your needs depending on your budget, and if you want to focus on photography or film. 

Drones also add a unique perspective, and I use the DJI Mini 3 Pro for its ease of use, different perspective, and social media appeal, as aerial shots stand out in a crowded feed of the usual standard phone videos. 

How many photos do you take before achieving the perfect shot?

The number of photos varies based on the situation. In candid shoots, I capture numerous moments, ensuring a broad selection for editing. For planned shoots, I take fewer shots, focusing on directing (almost like choreographing a take, the people are told exactly what to do an say and you can do a number of takes till you get the desired outcome) and composition (looking at how the image fills the screen, do you want the subject in the centre or to the left or right of the frame? What angle would be the most visually appealing?).

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What’s your favourite part about being a photographer? How did you get into it?

My favourite aspect of being a visual creator is having the ability to come up with a vivid concept, and then being able to figure out a way to communicate that vision through the lens. Initially a professional dancer, my career path changed when I crossed paths with filmmaker Christos Creates who mentored me. 

Leveraging my network in the dance industry, I transitioned from being in front of the camera to working behind it, and as my skills developed I started gravitating towards the travel industry, where I found a fulfilling outlet for my creativity. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?

I would say build a diverse portfolio to explore possible niches you would like to work in  – it’s good to specialize so that you can easily market yourself and find regular work. You should also take time to understand business basics, master self-promotion, and hone negotiation skills. Check out the ‘Full Time Filmmaker’ course or youtube channel, it’s directed towards filmmakers, but there is a great amount of business resources that can be applied to photography too. 

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How can I get a good picture of a landscape?

Use a wide-angle lens, incorporate leading lines and foreground interest, shoot during the golden hour for soft light, and pay attention to the sky. Experimenting with angles, compositions, and lighting conditions is key!

Is landscape or portrait mode better?

The preference depends on the platform. Portrait mode suits social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram better, while landscape mode is ideal for cinematic videos on platforms like YouTube.

I personally prefer to post landscape photos in a portrait format for a full experience, this means the image fills the whole screen, but the viewer has to rotate their phone 90 degrees to see it properly. Clients usually opt for things to be filmed in portrait mode and posted in portrait mode, as it’s the trendiest way to share content.

Are there any settings you recommend using on the camera app?

Here’s a quick tip – play with brightness and exposure: 

This works great during sunset or low-light conditions as it can create a moody cinematic effect.

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Does my phone model impact photo quality, and how can I take good photos with an older model?

Despite having an older phone model, you can maintain photo quality by cleaning the lens, stabilising the phone, and managing your storage. Adequate storage is crucial for photo quality over time and this applies to the flashy new phones as well.

You may have noticed this on yours or a friend’s phone, that overtime the quality starts to deplete. This is due to there not being enough space for the phone to capture images with as much information. For example if it’s supposed to be in 4k, it might not have the capacity to execute this level of quality if your phone storage is full.

What are the best selfie angles/tips for selfies and group photos?

These tips can apply to singular and group selfies!

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Any poses you recommend?

I say keep it candid (if you can), just have a laugh! I like goofy pics cause I’m not a fan of selfies, I am usually the one to ruin one by pulling a silly face. The most well-known rule with selfies is to hold the camera slightly above eye level for a flattering angle.

How do you get people organised for a photo? How can I make sure the photos I take are candid?

To organise people for a photo, create a relaxed environment and be patient. For candid shots, tell jokes and ask for fake laughs initially. Authentic laughter often follows, creating contagious moments perfect for capturing genuine and candid photos. You’ll likely find yourself laughing behind the camera too!

Do you prefer shooting people or landscapes?

Can I say I like capturing people in landscapes? I think it offers a broader range of creativity as you have a subject and a variety of possible scenery to tell different narratives. Especially if it is a video, as it helps with the storytelling and transitions.

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