Travel photographer Eleanor Marriott shares five simple but effective tips to give your travel photos the professional edge.

Eleanor Marriott is a travel photographer specializing in Latin America. Her ‘Enchanted Eye’ exhibition of Cuban, Mexican and Belizean photographs will be on show at Canning House on London’s Belgrave Square  from 12th September to 6th October (10am to 4pm Mon-Fri plus selected evenings). If you would like to attend the Private Viewing of ‘An Enchanted Eye’ on 13th September, with cocktails and canapes courtesy of Cubana Restaurant, send an email to entitled ‘JLA invitation’ by 6th September and she will send five people an invitation for themselves plus a guest. 

Here Eleanor shares some of her travel photography tips:

Images by Tom Parrott


Aim to look beyond the normal tourist shots. That world-famous historic building in front of you may be stunning but the chances are that the folks back home have seen images of it several times before.

The best travel photographs in my mind tell a story. They can be humorous or poignant, or can just capture the essence of a place. So, don’t point your camera in the same direction as the crowds – be ever alert for those unique photo opportunities that you won’t necessarily see in the guidebooks. Observe the dress of the people, the food that they sell in the markets, their transport, their crafts, how they decorate their houses. By all means photograph the main sites as well, but if you include some observations of everyday life in your collection you will come back with a much more rounded photographic diary of the place you visited.


Don’t just limit yourself to your camera’s auto button. It may ensure that everything is in focus but sometimes that isn’t the most interesting effect. If something is moving then try using a slower shutter speed to capture that sense of movement. Experiment with different aperture settings too. A large aperture setting such as 5.6 or higher is good for portraiture photographs as it gives greater depth of field, blurring the background and making the viewer focus on the main object or person in the frame. If your camera is semi-automatic then look for the special settings options such as sports or portraits which essentially alter the shutter speed or aperture for you.


Take a few moments to frame your photograph properly. Look for unsightly objects that detract from the main subject then see if there is a way of omitting them from the frame by repositioning yourself or the camera. Follow the rule of thirds instead of plonking the main subject in the middle of the frame – it is much more aesthetically pleasing if you have it off to one side. Don’t be afraid to come in really close to a subject: it can create a bold photograph without any clutter distracting the eye.


Light is probably the most important factor in taking good photos. The best light occurs early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the sun is lower. It is softer then with more contrast and the yellow magenta dominance to the hues makes them richer and more vivid. The best light often comes during a storm or after the rain so don’t limit yourself to just sunny days for photography. Rainy or misty conditions can also produce some wonderfully atmospheric photo opportunities. Also, watch how the light falls. A ray of light illuminating your subject can transform a photograph.

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