I’ll be frank. If you’re already a photography expert, this article isn’t going to teach you much.

If, however, you’re looking to improve your photography skills, try taking these rules into account they next time you snap a shot while travelling.

Focus on practicing one rule at a time, until it becomes a habit, and then move on to the next.

Get your shots during the golden hour, the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset.

Conversely, you should try to avoid shooting at noon; midday sunlight is generally unflattering, and difficult for beginners to handle, particularly if you’re shooting portraits of your friends. If you’re shooting portraits of your enemies, it doesn’t really matter.

Check out: http://www.golden-hour.com, a comprehensive website and app that will let you figure out golden hour timings anywhere in the world.

Be aware of things like people walking into your frame, wires overhead, garbage underfoot and other elements that will make your shot look messy.

Ideally, each photo should tell a story; you should consciously asking yourself: “Does this element add to the overall story?”. If not, eliminate it by zooming in, or applying the next tip.

In the words of war photographer Robert Capa: “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

When first starting out, try an exercise where whatever it is you’re taking fills the majority of the frame. It’s tempting to always use the zoom function on your camera, but don’t be afraid to move your feet, and get closer to the subject, or change the angle of your approach. Don’t be too afraid of getting close to your subject.

Place points of interest, or elements that you’re trying to emphasise, along the areas demarcated in red.


If you’re an iPhone user, you can start practicing by using your camera phone. Here’s how:

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Photos & Camera.
  3. Scroll towards the bottom of the page. Under the Camera section, there is an option for Grid. Turn the feature On.

As a simple exercise, try to see how the rule of thirds apply to these photos.

Program or Auto Mode is useful in a pinch, but whether you have a DSLR or a point-and-click, it’s best to know what your camera’s full capabilities are. The three elements you need to be aware of make up what is known as the photographic triangle. These elements also correspond to modes on your camera. To make some gross (but useful) generalisation:

Shutter Priority (S or Tv Mode) : Useful for taking photos of fast-moving objects or people.

Aperture Priority (A or Av Mode) : Affects depth of field, or how sharp the backgrounds or foregrounds are.

Program Mode (P Mode) : Useful when you’re in a hurry to get a shot and don’t have the time to fiddle with your settings.

Felix Olivier

about Felix Olivier

Felix Olivier heads Departure’s Explorer Section. He is a photojournalist who aspires to capture essential moments. He believes that photography is essentially about truth, and not just aesthetics. In his youth, he never, ever had a mohawk. Honest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>