The Idealist

Top Tips for Travel Photographers Part 1 – Get High, Get Close, Get Lost

Travel photographer Jens Lennartsson is on a journey around the world with images that capture the humanity and local character of every place he visits. Join him as we share his tips to help you enhance your intuition and to give you a new perspective on people and places around you. You don’t need a better camera, more equipment or expensive software. You only need a fresh approach.

Get High

One of the goals of a travel photographer is to show viewers a place from an angle they haven’t seen before. While everyone else is busy walking through a city’s streets and alleys, take a moment to look up. Where can you go to get an overview of the city? How far up can you go?

When taking pictures from above, you’re elevating viewers to a place they probably wouldn’t find themselves.

Find the highest point in the area and go there. Half an hour earlier, I had taken the stairs up to the roof of the cathedral in the middle of Piazza del Duomo. Now I was just waiting for the right light.

Tourists on manic shopping sprees were walking from store to store under the large cupola covering the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The saints were balancing on their stone pillars surrounding the cathedral. I watched the dome’s white light spread into the approaching night, showing Milan at its most beautiful.

Get Up There!

Get Close

Renowned photographer Robert Capa once said:

If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.


Even though you should take this with a grain of salt, keep the old master’s voice in the back of your mind. A photographer isn’t supposed to capture everything in one frame, just the interesting parts. Don’t forget to look really closely, because you might find a completely new world. Get as close as possible and capture the smallest details.

I’d been walking back and forth on a sandy road, looking for the path that was supposed to lead into the jungle. An old couple had been watching me and when I passed for the fifth time they waved for me to come over. They were sitting on a wooden porch in front of their small house. They didn’t speak a word of English and I certainly didn’t have any skills inThai. Nevertheless, we spent a couple of hours together sharing lunch, bananas and a weird orange fruit that I actually thought might kill me for a couple of white-knuckled minutes.

It’s All in the Details


Get Lost!

As a photographer you HAVE to take pictures. It is your job, even if you’re not a professional. And sometimes that means that you won’t please everyone. So be rude. Go out there with the attitude that you’re going to take that picture, no matter what. When you do see a picture, just take it and deal with the consequences later.

Be Rude!

This is the Department of Cultural History in the tiny town of Casablanca, just outside Havana. It consists of one very worn-out room with a similarly worn-out, chain-smoking woman.She told us about the origin of the town’s name and why Che Guevara got married there, and showed us pictures of the first inhabitants. But she wouldn’t let me take her picture. Fortunately, people aren’t very good at judging how much fits in a picture. She thought I was photographing the painting on the wall behind her.

Find Out More

These tips are taken from Hide in Plain Sight by Jens Lennartsson, which brings together 100 tips for better travel photography. It’s available from Amazon for £16.59.

  • Jens is a lifestyle photographer in the purest sense, focusing on regular people and how they lead their lives. Through his photography, website, books and non-profit initiatives like EYE AM and The Ethnicity Project, he aims to inspire, share knowledge and make new connections. Though he’s based in Malmö, Jens’ passion for photography, travel and amazing food takes him to every corner of the globe. He’s known for his Zen approach to practicing his craft, using minimal equipment, natural light and living in the moment.

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