So, you’ve planned a trip. You can just envision the stunning views, the beautiful vistas, and how happy you’ll be to seeing beautiful sights. But if you’re worried about how to capture those views to share with friends and family back home, I’ve got your back.
I chatted with Andrew Mizzi, an Australian pilot, traveler and photographer based in Hong Kong. Andrew travels around Asia, taking beautiful photos in between flights. He’s been working on a series in Myanmar lately, producing stunning images of the people and places.
I was blown away by his work, so I had to pick his brain and figure out how we could improve our own travel photos.
Getting Started in Photography
While Andrew studied photography in high school, it was underwater photography that sparked his interest as he was diving in the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns, Australia.
“This was where I began to hone my skills and develop a passion for photography,” he said. “One of the most important photography differences above and below water is that when diving, light is scarce but still as important, composition is crucial, and fish are skittish! Patience was the key! Being able to master those skills underwater definitely made a huge impact on dry land.”
Now, he uses the skills he honed underwater while he travels all over Asia. “I’m now fortunate to travel internationally several times per month, to contrasting locations, and my camera is always by my side,” he said. “In 2016 I was traveling somewhere for over 300 days of the year, and made it to over 20 countries.”
Travel Photo Tips
Andrew said that there are a few things he does to find the perfect shots he looks for while he’s traveling. The first step is research. That’s right, while you’re looking into the best restaurants and activities for a trip, use some of that Pinterest time to figure out what kind of photos are out there. “It’s hard to find a path that hasn’t been travelled and shot before, but there are always new ways to capture something unique,” he said. “Take some time to identify what you like or dislike about an image and consider what you would do differently. Before you know it, a walk down a new and unexplored street bursts with ideas and concepts you can shoot.”
You might have gained some insight on where to go from your initial research, but timing is key if you want to get the perfect shot. Be sure you’re aiming to be in your top spots just after sunrise or before sunset. “The difference between shooting at midday, versus at ‘golden hour’ which is just after sunrise or just before sunset, where warm light and long shadows, can dramatically turn an average photo into a great one,” he said.
Finally, if you’re working with a DSLR, you need to actually know how to use it. “Knowing how to correctly expose an image is important, and can lead to new photographers not being able to get the shot they’re seeing with their own two eyes,” he said. He recommends looking up tutorials on Youtube to help you learn the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
Tools for Great Photo
Luckily, Andrew says that the tools of the trade are becoming less important for travel photographers these days, especially as smartphones develop better and better in-phone cameras. “Instagram has created a new genre of photographers, all shooting with something we all have in our pockets,” he said.
That said, if you’re really serious about photography, there are some things a phone can’t do, and it might be worthwhile to invest in a camera. But he assured me that you can be successful no matter what tools you’re using. “It’s not the tools which create good photos anyway, it’s the skill set,” he said. “The biggest thing that will improve your skills is to get out there and shoot as often as you can, develop your knowledge of how cameras work, what the modes do, train yourself into using the manual, shutter priority and aperture priority modes, and continually work on the art.”
Mistakes to Avoid
I love that Andrew said one of the biggest mistakes he sees can be corrected with a mindset shift, from just trying to get a picture of a landscape, to telling a story through images. “Especially with travel photos, while we all like to see a pretty sunset or rolling hills, it doesn’t quite capture the internal, adventurous spirit of the viewer, and want them to know more, ask where it was taken, and contemplate some exotic culture or location,” he said.
That said, don’t get too hung up on the photos, but just enjoy your trip. “Too many incredible experiences are missed by trying to take a photo of something instead of just taking it all in,” he said.
When I asked him for his best editing tips, Andrew circled back to taking great photos in the first place. “In most circumstances, having a correctly exposed and composed image, out of the camera, greatly helps post processing, saves time, and allows for greater manipulation to reach the final product,” he said.
But, since having a perfect photo right off the camera isn’t always possible, he suggests getting started with free tools like the Google Nik Collection for your Mac/PC, and Snapseed for iOS/Android. But watch out for overdoing your editing. “Beware of processing your photos too much, and always have a look back a few days later at your edits with ‘fresh’ eyes,” he said.
Thank you Andrew for sharing these awesome tips with my readers! I hope you feel empowered to get to know your camera and get out shooting your best photos yet.
Still have travel photo questions? Drop them in the comments and I’ll connect with Andrew so we can learn even more from him.