5 Useful Travel Photography Tips for the Visually Minded

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Robert Schrader in Finland

Typically, when I offer travel photography advice, it’s creative in nature. On the other hand, today’s tips are just as much about making your life easier as making your travel photography better. Although some of these may seem obvious for frequent photographers, other might feel counterintuitive, or even wrong. But trust me—this works!

Shoot in RAW—But Only Store JPEGs

I’ve recently become a big advocate for shooting in RAW, a format that allows you to make big edits to your pictures with only a small change in their quality. Unfortunately, the edits you can make to RAW files aren’t the only thing “big” about them: They can easily exceed 50 MB in size, each. (By contrast, average JPEGs tend to come out of the camera around 5 MB or so.)

Unless you carry an extra hard drive with you (more on that in a second), these files will overload your computer extremely fast, so delete them from your machine after you’re done editing. Reduce the burden of your travel photos on your hard drive even further by using an image resizer, which doesn’t necessarily reduce their physical dimensions, but removes unnecessary information within the file and, thus, reduces the file size, optimizing them for online sharing.

Back-up Your Photos in Multiple Places

Of course, deleting your RAW files outright precludes you from going back, in the future, and re-editing them if necessary. Instead, delete them from your computer itself only after you’ve backed them (and the JPEGs themselves) up to an external hard drive or even an auxiliary memory card. Additionally, back the contents of your computer up to the cloud so that you have your travel photos in three places, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll ever be “gone for good.”

Go Through Your Photos Daily

Speaking of memory cards, you’ve probably noticed that you can store tens of thousands of images on them, slightly less if you shoot in RAW. Although this feature of modern digital storage is attractive on paper, it can be disastrous for your sanity—can you imagine getting back from two weeks in Cuba and suddenly having 20,000 photos to edit? Go through your photos as you take them.

And Delete Your Memory Card Every Day, Too

Remember how I promised this post would be more practical in nature than esoteric? Well, I just can’t keep myself from going all New-Agey. Indeed, deleting your memory card every day might seem counterintuitive, practically-speaking, unless of course you’ve taken my back-up advice above. But I find that deleting old images, and in particular those who didn’t make the “final cut” onto your computer, frees you up creatively, allowing each day to truly embody a unique expression.

Remember That Less is More

Yes, I did just suggest that only a certain percentage of your photos should ever make it onto your computer. And I do believe that only a certain percentage of those should be seen by other people. In fact, although I advocate taking as many photos as possible during a given trip, I would say that realistically, only about 1-2% of them should ever see the light of day. Harsh? Maybe. But it’s downright humane compared to how it would’ve been back in the film days.

What about you? Can you think of any additional travel photography tips? If so, share them in the “Comments” section.

 

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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