Improving Your Image Through Visual Communications

Journalist - Photographer - Writer

Friday, 28 August 2009

What is a good travel photograph?

By Darren Stones

I’m no expert on the matter, so don’t shoot me – please. When looking at travel photographs I look for a definite subject. How many times have we seen a beautiful sunset photograph which doesn’t contain a subject of interest within the frame?

Photographs of beautiful sunsets are common, but what lifts an image above others in the pack? Usually, it’s a definite subject in the frame besides that of the lovely coloured clouds and sky.

Large black areas without detail in a photograph tend to detract from an image. Photography is all about light, and the skilful use of it enhances the subject matter you’re photographing. The less black areas in your photos the better – I believe.

Whether it’s an outdoor candid portrait, a landscape or seascape, a building or other architectural feature, lighthouse, etc., the good use of light is paramount in impressing viewers of your images. View good travel photography and analyse why you like particular images. Where will you find good travel photography? Travel guide books, newspaper travel lift-outs, travel magazines, travel brochures, and the like.

Include a definite subject in the frame which creates interest in your travel photograph.

Dog Rocks, Batesford, Victoria, Australia IMG_4013-1_Dog Rocks
Dog Rocks by Darren Stones
2008 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Bronze Statuette Winner

I view many travel photographs each month, and the one’s that impress me are those that have a definite subject that’s well lit, interesting and not over manipulated. Large black areas in a travel photograph are not really conducive to holding my attention, so I generally move on to other images quite quickly.

Of course this is just my opinion; however I believe I have a better idea of what is an attractive travel photograph as compared to 10 years ago. I suppose this has come from years of viewing published photographs, practical experience, being published in various publications, received awards and sold and licensed images. No intent to blow my trumpet, just giving some sort of background to how I’ve developed.

In travel photography, it’s best to create images which are a true representation of the subject as they are the images which seem most attractive to people.

One of the best ways to improve your travel photography is to actively seek a critique. Internet forums are an excellent avenue to seek opinion on your work, and if you spare time to give some advice to your peers, you’ll generally receive such in return.

So, put your work out there for others to view, actively seek a critique, and give a bit back to those who assist you. What have you got to lose? Quite frankly, I think you’ve got plenty to gain from the interactive experience. You’ll be on your way to making better travel photographs.

Here are two sites where my Australian travel photography is exhibited:

Online print sales gallery:
Flickr Photography Gallery:

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