What Do You Need To Take Great Travel Pictures?


There’s an often repeated story of a photographer who goes to a friend’s house for dinner where the comment is made, “You take really good photos, you must have a really good camera”.  At the end of the meal, the photographer thanks the host for the meal with “Dinner was fantastic, you must have a really great oven”.

Regardless of how true this story is, the meaning behind it is fairly clear. Be it cooking or photography, a large amount of the finished product depends on the skill of the person involved, rather than the equipment used.

While I’m not suggesting that the fantastic images in high end magazines could be shot on an iPhone, it is certainly true that expensive camera gear doesn’t guarantee a great photo.

So what do you need to take great travel pictures? To answer that question, I’ve asked Scott to give us a few hints.

  1. An eye for composition. Your average photographer who cuts people’s heads off with a phone, or a point and shoot camera isn’t going to do any better with thousands of dollars worth of the latest digital SLR technology. Thinking about where your subject is placed in the shot goes along way toward determining the quality of the shot. Check out our article Seven Tips For Taking Great Travel Photos for some great tips on composing your photos.
  2. Good knowledge of your camera – even if your camera happens to be your phone. The confidence that comes with knowing how the different settings will affect the outcome of your photos will help you decide how to get the best image you can. And you won’t be left fumbling when a great photo opportunity pops up.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. As with any skill, practice is a key element. Being able to size up what looks good, and take the photo on the best settings will become second nature if you keep practicing. Even if you take three photos a day starting from tomorrow, in two weeks time you will be taking better photos- give it a try!

Do you have any secrets to getting a great shot? If you do, we’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Until next time – au revoir.

P.S. The photo of Tournon-sur-Rhône above was taken by Scott with Janelle’s little point and shoot camera.



About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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5 thoughts on “What Do You Need To Take Great Travel Pictures?

  • Jan Leishman

    I knew my old SLR film camera so well, but just haven’t yet mastered the digital (too easy to put it on automatic!). But it’s SO much better for composition being able to ‘see’ it first. Great tip to practise with 3 photos a day – I’m going out now to try it!

    • Janelle Post author

      Good luck Jan. And I’ve got to tell you, that I love the photos on your blog…I don’t think you need that much practice! But enjoy the creative process while you are practicing!

  • Jean-Marie

    Hi Janelle & Scott,

    This is so true! One thing that is also very important – specially with smartphones – is the lighting!
    Try to avoid shadows over your subject, be it food or people. Shadows might be used strategically on architecture shots though or landscape. If you can try to use natural light rather than artificial, then you will have better results as well. Most of my IG photos are taken on an iPhone 6 now. I still use my Olympus PEN with a prime 17mm lens for the website. The good thing with digital photography is that practice doesn’t cost anything and you have instant feedback!

    • Janelle Post author

      I couldn’t agree more Jean-Marie – lighting is so important. Scott is still trying to teach me that! And you are right about digital photography- I think that the technology has made photography so much more accessible – I know that is certainly true for me.