One of the best things about traveling is taking photos that I can look back at and share with my friends. My skills have definitely improved over the years, and while I’m by no means a professional photographer, I do get a lot of compliments on my pics! Here are a few tips for you to beef up your own skills.

1. Take More Photos Than You Think You Need

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I used to not do this, and then when I viewed my photos on my computer, I’d be sad that some photos were blurry or otherwise unusable. You can’t always go back where you took the photo to take it again, ya know? And because you’re no longer processing actual film, there’s really no reason not to take hundreds of photos. Trust me: you’ll delete a ton, but it’s better to have options when it comes to your pics.

2. Take at Least 3 of Everything

I learned this tip at the Travel + Leisure Expo last year, and I’ve been using it ever since. Let’s say you want to take a photo of a sand dune in Death Valley. First, take one from far away so you get the landscape.

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Then take one zoomed in a little.

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Then take one close up. You can also vary your angle for more interesting perspective.

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3. Take Both Phone and Camera Photos

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Sometimes I don’t feel like pulling out my point-and-shoot (like when it’s drizzling in San Francisco), so I use my phone camera. Typically it takes pretty good shots, unless the lighting is low. But it’s often faster to whip out and take a quick shot, like of an inexplicable Mickey Mouse walking down the street in Marseille.

4. Leave the Heavy Camera at Home

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I had a Nikon with removable lenses. It made me feel super professional. But I haaaaated lugging that thing around and worrying that I’d drop it. So now I have a Sony RX100, which I can slip in my pocket. It takes surprisingly great photos for a point and shoot (most of the pics on my blog come from it).

5. Frame a Landscape with Something Interesting

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When I go camping in the desert, I take a crapload of photos, but after a while the monotony of desertscapes gets old. So I try to mix it up by including something in the foreground, like a person, a tent, or a rock.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to taking great travel photos. Just remember to get from behind the camera sometimes so you actually enjoy your experiences in the moment, rather than just digitally after the fact.