6 Steps to Better Travel Posing

6 Steps to Better Travel Poses

Jordan and I have spent a lot of time traveling and taken a lot of photos. I don't know if we're exactly experts, but one things we're pretty good at is getting great posed shots while traveling, which is especially skillful when you realize I only have one pose -- smiling. On our last trip to Egypt I got the idea to share some of the things we picked up along the way and hopefully at least one of these ideas will help you next time you're out and about.

1. Pay attention to your clothes. Just like in regular posed shots, clothing can make a big difference. When packing for a trip take a minute to think about how you’ll look in the photos. I’m not saying to pack a fancy wardrobe (I traveled for a year with just a couple shirts), but choose a color that flatters you well and that will stand out or complement your surroundings.

Jordan blends into the surroundings, making this photo less exciting.
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No matter where I am in the temples of Angkor, you can spot me easily because I'm wearing hot pink!
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If you do want to look stylish, but are concerned about space, I’d suggest packing a couple scarves so you can quickly change your outfit and add variety.


I wore the same shirt every day on our trip to Egypt.
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But you don't notice because I distract you with scarves.
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It's like a super power.
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Also, keep in mind that accessories like your raincoat, umbrella and bag may end up being the star of every photo you're in. So choose wisely.


It rained every day we were in Paris. Luckily my umbrella and coat matched and brought color to what would have been drab photos.
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2. Wait for your moment. You've probably experienced being somewhere just at the same time as everyone else. Trying to get a photo in these circumstances can be difficult and stressful. The thing to remember is to stop and wait. Enjoy the surroundings, people watch, and before too long you'll probably experience an ebb in the flow and a quiet moment will be yours to get the shot you want. Even in really busy places, just waiting a minute or two can be the difference between a great shot and a ho hum shot.


A minute either way and this shot would have had more tourists than just me.
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3. Try a different angle. Sometimes the crowds are just too big to get that ideal photo. If that’s the case, try a different angle. Try getting up on a ledge and shooting up or down. Try moving your feet and walking around to the back or the side. You’d be surprised at how many people never make it past the entrance.


The front of Angkor War is always swarming with people, but in the back there is no one, and it looks just as cool back there.
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This view going up minimizes the number of extra people in the photo with me.
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Don't forget to look down as well.
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Sometimes you just need to embrace the crowd: the Mona Lisa is more interesting in context.
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4. Get the spacing right. When you’re trying to capture a monument or building, spacing is key. In my experience, people tend to stand exactly in the wrong place, getting photos which highlight neither the person, nor the background. Stand close, or stand far away, but try not to stand in the middle.


Okay photo. Neither me nor the background looks exciting.
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This zoom is much better at focusing on my face and the view of Budapest behind me.
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With me far away you can see the emptiness and size of this church in Zagreb.
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5. Look beyond the typical travel backgrounds. When you’re out and about is the best time to find new and exciting backdrops for a great profile shot. Keep an eye out for graffiti, interesting walls, flowers, etc which may not be a well recognized landmark, but can make a terrific posed shot.


Jordan looks tough against this wall of chains.
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This wall of graffiti makes a bright and colorful backdrop.
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6. Embrace your inner tourist. The best advice I can give is don’t be embarrassed to stop and take a photo. Whether you've traveled far, or just down the road, photos are a giant reason why we remember special moments. Don’t be embarrassed to stop and get the shot you want. You can be pretty sure that no one is going to remember a lone tourist stopping for a photo, but for years after you will be able to remember that one moment.


I'm sure that guy in the background won't remember me from any other tourist who stopped to immortalize eating ice cream in the steps of ancient Egyptians.
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Recent Comments

Marlyn Ramirez
Marlyn Ramirez Thu, 03/06/2014 - 04:37

fantastic tips! thanks!

Magdalena Einarsen
Magdalena Einarsen Thu, 01/23/2014 - 23:40

I find myself coming back to this post again and again. It's such good advice!
Thank you again :-)

Eve Care
Eve Care Thu, 01/16/2014 - 18:47

Thank you Marisa, this is very helpful for me to know, especially when I'm out in nature and to be mindful of the clothes, surroundings, and angels. Also 'wait for your moment' and 'embrace your inner tourist' are things that I hadn't realized I was doing (or not doing for that matter) but now I'm aware I had actually done that and missed photos as a result. Thanks for pointing these out as they are really important for me and I'm sure anyone who has missed a photo opportunity for those reasons will appreciate these helpful reminders :)

Karina Debard
Karina Debard Tue, 12/31/2013 - 15:37

Great tips! Thanks for sharing :-)

Kay Myers
Kay Myers Wed, 09/25/2013 - 14:03

Isn't it funny how sometimes you learn more from a friendly person than from a course on photography. I love how you incorporated not only photography tips but also packing and travel tips. I hope I can use some of your tips for my upcoming trip to Hawaii.

Dawn Evans
Dawn Evans Mon, 07/01/2013 - 03:26

Thanks Marisa - great tips and I would NEVER have noticed it was the same shirt !!!

Linda Bollengier
Linda Bollengier Sat, 06/01/2013 - 21:11

I really enjoyed this article and will try to incorporate some of the great tips… I always overpack - I need to take more scarves and less clothes!! LOL

Magdalena Einarsen
Magdalena Einarsen Sat, 06/01/2013 - 12:25

These are not only great photography tips but fabulous packing tips as well!
Thank you for sharing :-)

Melissa Bechtloff
Melissa Bechtloff Mon, 02/25/2013 - 12:55

wow, those were some really great tips .... some of the things i do, but some I never even thought of.

Cat Armstrong
Cat Armstrong Fri, 02/08/2013 - 15:38

I love your travel photos. I would love to travel, but my husband doesn't like it...*sigh*. I see you had a chance to see the Mona Lisa. I actually got to see her when I was very young and was only about 2 feet away from it. She was at the local art gallery where I was taking art lessons. Its kinda a funny story - one of the kids I was with reached into the booth to touch the painting and set off all the alarms. We were escorted out of the gallery by about 20 armed security officers. We were only 11 years old at the time and didn't understand what the painting meant to the world...

Janet Scott
Janet Scott Sun, 01/20/2013 - 22:28

Great tips! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post.

Lindsey Cosby
Lindsey Cosby Tue, 01/15/2013 - 11:31

I've been a photographer for over 20 years and never learned these things in photography. We were taught how to make sure no one "extra" would be in your shot or you just don't get it. I also have never traveled much but plan to do some very soon durring the next year so thank you so much for this. Is it to soon to tell you I love you? LOL

Lea Boston
Lea Boston Tue, 01/15/2013 - 08:09

love your pictures and advice! thanks!

Meridy Reeve
Meridy Reeve Fri, 01/11/2013 - 08:34

Thanks so much for the tips!

Lourdes
Lourdes Thu, 01/10/2013 - 20:49

The photographs are beautiful! I especially love the ones from Angkor.

Jean Notte
Jean Notte Thu, 01/10/2013 - 19:29

Thanks! Great tips, great photos, great trips!

peggy aplSEEDS
peggy aplSEEDS Thu, 01/10/2013 - 00:09

great travel trips, Marisa! and your pictures are wonderful! i will try the scarf trick!

Caryn Love
Caryn Love Wed, 01/09/2013 - 23:55

Thank you so much for the great tips - going to use it for my everyday photos too :)

Xaria Menzies
Xaria Menzies Wed, 01/09/2013 - 22:04

Great suggestions. Thanks

Gay Harper
Gay Harper Wed, 01/09/2013 - 20:09

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing them!

Beth Bayer
Beth Bayer Wed, 01/09/2013 - 18:10

You look so pretty in pink xoxox Beth

Diana Lee
Diana Lee Wed, 01/09/2013 - 18:05

Thanx for the awesome tips! Your photos are amazing!

Brooke Gazarek
Brooke Gazarek Wed, 01/09/2013 - 12:02

totally bookmarking this post! wonderful tips for all sorts of photography! and, oh, the places you've been...amazing!

Janet Hull
Janet Hull Wed, 01/09/2013 - 10:47

Thank you Marisa for all the tips. This is one thing that I am working on this year - to take better photos!

Emelyn Magpoc
Emelyn Magpoc Wed, 01/09/2013 - 09:59

Your travel photos are amazing!! And love your tips, especially about changing an accessory, totally didn't notice the same shirt, awesome idea!! Thanks!

Sharon-Dewi Stolp
Sharon-Dewi Stolp Wed, 01/09/2013 - 08:57

Thank you for these amazing useful tips! I will definitely use your scarf tip for my trip to Indonesia next week! Then I can try to travel lighter;).

Candy Lee
Candy Lee Wed, 01/09/2013 - 08:09

Wow! What great pictures... Thanks for the tips. Now, if I just had somewhere to go...

Jessica Alexandra
Jessica Alexandra Wed, 01/09/2013 - 08:07

Thanks so much for the tips. Gives me many ideas. :D

Robin McKenty
Robin McKenty Wed, 01/09/2013 - 06:12

great pictures, and great tips! I never thought about my wardrobe before. I'll keep that in mind the next time I pack for a trip. :)

Lady Phillippa
Lady Phillippa Wed, 01/09/2013 - 04:24

These are great tips! I would have never thought about the wardrobe aspect! I need more bright scarves. :) The last tip is probably the one I need to work on. I don't like other people watching me take a picture, which is silly.

Cynthia arnett
Cynthia arnett Wed, 01/09/2013 - 03:54

Thank you for the tips. Love seeing all the art at yhe places you've been.

Lana Fischer
Lana Fischer Wed, 01/09/2013 - 03:35

Loved reading the tips and looking at the beautiful photos. Your camera takes beautiful pictures. The places you have been are amazing...I could only hope to go to one of those places in my lifetime..you both are so lucky!!

Jessica Feagle
Jessica Feagle Wed, 01/09/2013 - 03:18

great tips! thank you

Sunny Faith Rush
Sunny Faith Rush Wed, 01/09/2013 - 01:22

What GREAT suggestions! Every one of them was an "Ah-HA"! moment, for me. I always marveled at those great photos of yours.