More Than Point and Shoot

Tips for Taking Memorable Photos While Traveling

By Baylee Pendleton

Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

Summer is in full swing, and it’s most people’s favorite time of year to travel. To learn how to capture those special moments away from home and enjoy them for years to come, we sat down with talented photographer Andrea Hutchinson, who also is a new addition to The Voice-Tribune’s staff.

1. Timing Is Everything

Time of day is key to getting a good shot, she explains. “The best lighting for pictures is early in the morning or later in the evening. These times of day also help you avoid mass tourist flows or crowds at attractions. A lot of people think they’re going to get that beautiful postcard shot, but when they get there, they’re surprised to find massive crowds wearing ponchos, inhibiting their shot.” Timing your photos for slower moments will help you avoid these less-than-picturesque settings.

2. Focus on the Bigger Picture

Taking a step back and observing the bigger components of your shot can serve to improve your end result. Hutchinson explains, “I like to turn my photo grid on. It looks like a tic-tac-toe box and it helps me keep the ‘Rule of Thirds’ that most photographers swear by.” The idea here is that dividing your shot into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, improves the overall composition of the photograph. You can easily turn this on in your smartphone’s camera settings.

She also encourages travelers to think outside the box when you’re out-and-about. “Try and get different vantage points,” she says. “If you can get 20 feet in the air using a nearby parking garage, then you can have a bird’s-eye view on life below you. Or, you set your camera down on the ground and get a worm’s-eye-view.”

Trying to catch that perfect sunset at the beach or capture the treeline on your hiking adventure? Tap your focus onto the sky so your exposure adjusts. Hutchinson says, “I like to shoot landscapes dark. In other words, I like to underexpose them. Most people, when they go to shoot a landscape or the horizon, the sky is blown out. Make sure you focus on the sky, tapping it to adjust your camera’s exposure, helping you get the most detail of the actual landscape.”

3. Selfie Alternatives

We’ve all been guilty of capturing the dreaded “selfie,” but Hutchinson explains that getting shots of yourself is still a crucial part of your travel experience. “It’s important that people exist in their travel pictures. A lot of times, people don’t want to take selfies.” But she highlighted other ways you can be in your own photos. “Your shoe is the easiest tripod. Take it off and balance your phone in it. Sometimes I even carry an extra shoe in my bag instead of a tripod. And don’t be afraid to approach other people to take that portrait. Just be picky with who you choose.” 

4. Back to Basics

Sometimes we have to go back to the basics: “Realize that your phone is more interactive than just the shutter button. Before you approach a shot, wipe off your phone’s camera lens. Make sure you tap to focus on your subject and make sure your camera is straight. Often, I’ll think I have everything in focus and the exposure is perfect, but when I go back and look at it, the shot isn’t straight. Keep in mind if you’re tilting your phone forward or backward. Lenses are concave pieces of glass, so if you tilt it back towards your face, it will make things appear taller and larger. When you tilt it forward, you diminish the size of your subject.”

5. Apps for Editing

“People are into moving pictures now, so I love to use an app called ‘8mm,’ which lets me take vintage-looking reels,” she says. “They give a more romantic feel to videos – it helps put the nostalgia back into your shots. I also use VSCO a lot for editing pictures. An app called ‘Slow Shutter Cam’ allows you to do long-term exposure shots.” Even if the apps aren’t free, Hutchinson says, they generally make up for their own cost in the value they add to your travel shots. VT