How To Take The Worst Ever Travel Photos | Anti Travel Photography Tips

Nomadic Samuel taking travel photos

In recent months, I’ve quite regularly been contributing select travel photography tips, as a self-taught travel photographer, in order to hopefully help you improve your travel photography.  I’ve covered topics such as changing your vantage point, taking candid portraits, ways to protect and share your travel photos and when you should upgrade your travel camera.

Nomadic Samuel taking a video at Machu Picchu

It should not be shocking for you to expect another gem of a post outlining ways to improve this and that related to taking better travel photos; however, you’ll get none of that here.  Instead what I’ve decided to do is tell you how to take the worst travel photos possible.

That’s right!  Want to take photos that will make your family, friends and followers cringe at all the time?

 

Here is the guide on how to do it ‘truly’ cringe worthy style:

 

1)  Take Shots Only Of You

  That’s right.  Make sure you’re in every single one of your photos.  Better yet, try to block any boring subject matter that may be behind you, such as the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal.  Those kinds of boring structures won’t stand alone well on their own.  Bonus points for always being in the centre of your pictures.  Double up by having objects growing out your head, such as trees.

2)  Never Edit Your Photos

You’re a genius behind the lens.  Why bother editing?  What a waste of time.  Send your photos straight from your camera onto your favourite platform such as facebook.  Earn bonus points for taking 15 straight shots of you making the exact same pose over and over again.

3)  Keep Your Camera Always Pointed At Chest Level

We all know that the camera was meant to be held at chest level.  Why bother leaning down to get a unique vantage point.  Just keep your camera at chest level and receive plenty of bonus points by firing away.

4)  Use Special Effects Image Enhancements All Of The Time

Who needs to take a proper exposure these days?  With tilt shift, HDR & instragram, it’s a waste of time shooting normally.  Who cares if your HDR photos are as cheesy and potentially greasy as an 80′s mullet?  It’s what all the cool kids are doing and it’s what you should be doing as well.

5)  Stand Up Straight; Don’t Lean Over

Why even bother bending down, hiking up to get a unique vantage point or pointing the camera above your head for an overhead perspective?  Just stand straight up because it’s comfortable and you might split your swanky hipster pants open otherwise.

6)    Don’t Delete Any Of Your Photos

The advancements of digital photography mean you’re now free to take as many shots as you’d like without wasting rolls upon rolls of film, so why not go hog wild?  Take as many shots as you possibly can, bonus points for repetitive ones, and show them to all your friends.  Because after-all, they’re waiting impatiently for you to entertain them for hours on end.

7)  Always Shoot in Auto

This is my favourite!  Why bother learning about exposure, ISO, shutter speed or aperture when you’ve got Auto to play around with?  Cameras are designed to take good photos.  It’s not you taking the photos it’s your camera.  Trust in your camera and it will never let you down.

I guarantee if you master all 7 of these you’ll be well on your way to taking the worst travel photos ever!  GUARANTEED! :P

Nomadic Samuel taking some more travel pics

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Hogga September 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm

AMAZING… especially the ‘Take shots only of you’ suggestion. Just as bad is never taking any shots of you. I mean, nobody is THAT ugly, right?

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 6:09 am

Hahaha…truly nobody could be that ugly. If they were they’d break the camera, right?

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Irina September 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Would you be surprised to learn that I have a lot of “professional” travel photographers among my Facebook friends? They usually hit all of your tips and add some personal touches of which my favourite was a bunch of blurry pictures of a floor in Brazil…

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 6:10 am

The shots of the blurry floor in Brazil sounds very artistic. I like seeing photographers taking risks or being creative with their shots :)

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Amanda September 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Haha, thanks for the tips! The “Don’t Delete Any of Your Photos” one is my favorite – I LOVE when people upload 50 versions of the same crappy photo to Facebook!

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Bethany ~ twoOregonians September 25, 2012 at 4:46 am

UGH! For serious. ;)

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 6:54 am

Hahahaha…oh, it’s brilliant isn’t it? :P

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Juliann September 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm

8) Never zoom in on anything interesting. Let it fade into the obscurity of the background. (My husband does this — a LOT.)

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 6:55 am

Ah, that’s a good one! I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of all of the seven things not to do at some point in time :P

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Lilliane | wanderlass September 25, 2012 at 1:57 am

I agree on all except shoot in auto. The modern cameras now are really smarter than many people. If only they can also decide on the composition, but they cannot. So that’s still up for the “photographer” or the camera holder if you’re so strict with the term. Cheers.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:56 am

They certainly are a lot better and there would be some instances where shooting in auto would be beneficial without having to tinker around with your settings; however, for special shots ‘such as sunsets’ it’s far better in my opinion to have full control over your exposure.

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Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog September 25, 2012 at 3:47 am

Funny but true anti photography tips. I was laughing at #1 although I’m not that bad :) I always make sure I capture the attraction with & without me present. By the way love the first photo. It looks as if he’s posing for the camera :)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:54 am

Hahaha…thanks. With and without is a great compromise in my opinion.

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Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog September 25, 2012 at 3:50 am

Oops, I meant the 2nd photo where that cute animal is posing.

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Dean September 25, 2012 at 4:54 am

These are really handy tips Sam! :D. Another great tip – Buy a really expensive DSLR, put it on Auto and hold it out in front of you with the screen view on like a point and shoot. I see it all the time so it must be the best way!

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:53 am

Definitely see that way too often as well Dean! Can’t believe people would drop that much money on a camera just to use it like a point and shoot.

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Jessica Wray September 25, 2012 at 7:09 am

Very true! haha. But why do so many people live by these ways?! I hate seeing the same pose and the same picture a gazillion times on Facebook. One day when I can get myself a nice camera I will swear to stay away from all of these :)

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

:) I hope for those who enjoy being in every photo they’ll eventually expand their posing repertoire :P

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Shalu Sharma September 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

Something like this happens all the time. Some of us just cant delete any photos no matter how bad they are. No will ever look at it but gather dust on the hard drive. Great advice on how to take the worst photos. Makes a lot of sense.

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thanks Shalu,

I think you bring up a valid point – distinguishing between photos you share with others and those you keep in your personal collection :)

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wftristan September 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

Hi

I couldn’t agree more on number 4 – I am sick of seeing overblown HDR effects, 99% of the time they just look nasty.

Tristan

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 7:12 am

I agree with you Tristan. Out of all them I dislike HDR photography the most. I feel some do it exceptionally well but it’s a very small percentage and the rest is lacklustre at best.

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Maddy @ I'm Not Home September 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Samuel, have you been following me, taking notes on my photography skills? This list is creepily reflective of my photog style. Anyway I think the Taj Mahal looks so much better with me in the foreground. Hmph. And my parents can’t wait to see my 20,000 out-of-focus shots in a continuous slideshow when I get home, so there.

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 7:08 am

Hehehe, you’re a much better photographer than you give yourself credit for :) That’s a good point! Mom will always appreciate the shots of you and that reminds me I had better take some more of those for my Mom.

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Maddy @ I'm Not Home October 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Awww… shucks Samuel, you are too kind! I bet your mum loves all those vlogs you and Audrey are posting :-)

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Priyank September 26, 2012 at 12:47 am

Hi Samuel, Never crop, frame or use the rule of thirds works wonders as well! I see lots of people (guys in particular) taking pictures while holding their cameras in one hand as if its a macho thing. I hope they enjoy the blurs! Oh oh I can’t resist this one: Use flash everytime, even when you are taking a picture of niagara falls at night. :D
cheers, Priyank

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Nomadic Samuel September 26, 2012 at 7:06 am

Hahaha, yeah, I don’t understand the one hand thing either. Yes! Overuse of flash is terrible. Even worse is the portrait that gives the deer in the headlight appearance :)

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wftristan September 26, 2012 at 7:55 am

I must admit i do use my slr one handed – but that when i am doing street photography and speed is of the essence
rules of the road for me now are if it takes more than 30 seconds to edit – its rubbish ;-)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:53 am

That’s a great rule of thumb Tristan – over-editing in most cases would be sign of trying to salvage a lousy shot.

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Ada | Adaphobic Travels September 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

I was laughing to the whole time I read this such a unique posts of taking worse travel photos HAHA! Even if we hate seeing the same pose, we still do it!!! That’s the fun right? HAHA!

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:49 am

It can be fun to do that. I’m guilty of making silly poses :P

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Julie McNamee September 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I do just about all of those apart from the special effects because I don’t know how to do that one. Are you saying there’s something wrong with these techniques? ;o)

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Jan Goldsmith October 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I agree with Julie :-), except I do HDR :-)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:50 am

Hahaha…you’ll have to learn the special effects then ;0

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Tamika D. September 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Funny! I am trying to get into photography more… It’s fun learning my camera, but I do need to get me some professional help! :)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:48 am

Thanks Tamika, I think cameras do take a while to master. If you keep at it you’ll feel more comfortable soon.

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Georgeonthego September 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I love those people who take one hundred photos of their face in different settings but they are so close to the camera you can’t really see where they are anyway. I also love taking photos of the back of peoples heads, I don’t know why.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:47 am

That would make quite a unique photo essay: taking photos of the back of peoples heads :)

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Cassie September 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Love this! Over-Instagramming is my pet peeve, but something I’ve been guilty of myself! If it’s a crappy photo, it will still be a crappy photo, albeit one with a cool effect.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:46 am

Hahaha…that’s nicely put…a crappy photo will still be a crappy photo :)

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Sankara Subramanian C September 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Ha ha! Nice list. Self-obsessive people will make some or all of the mistakes highlighted above. Inquisitive people will not make any of the mistakes. Great post!

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:45 am

That’s a good way of putting it! I never thought of it like that before :)

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Zarek September 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

This is hilarious Samuel. I especially like the first one! Who’s not guilty of that?

Many of your points and experience echo my own. I actually just posted my own guide on 25 ways to improve travel photography without worrying about the camera settings, check it out if you get a chance!

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:45 am

Thanks Zarek, I think even the most experienced photographers can (and should) break the rules from time to time.

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Molly September 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I´m waiting for Christmas for a new camera with built wifi for instant sharing. Until then I reply on my iPhone4 and instagram retouching. Big cameras are great for amazing shots but are too bulky sometimes to lug about…

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:44 am

I agree with you Molly. I’m pleased my most recent body was smaller than my previous camera. I’d love to downgrade in size while upgrading in features :)

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CreditDonkey September 29, 2012 at 7:29 am

Very funny! That’s also a sure-fire way of earning the title of “Worst Travel Photographer of all Time”!

I just love seeing the same face and pose over and over again and in the background, just a small glimpse of something nice and beautiful.;)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

Glad you found this funny :)

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Charles September 30, 2012 at 7:55 am

No. 1 really is true! I don’t get it…before they even soak in the place, they need to get a picture of themselves dead centre against the setting!

Here’s one I’ve actually heard:
“It’s the one that had the most megapixels in the store, so it just does everything by itself.”

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:40 am

Hahaha…sounds like a great marketing scheme. Let the megapixels take over from your finger.

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Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com September 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Great post! I just hate it when people are guilty of #2. Why post 95 photos of the same poses again and again?? LOL #6 is funny too. I try to avoid those friends as much as I can.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:39 am

Hahaha…the repetition can be annoying. I wish more people would locate the delete button :P

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Callie September 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hahaha! Addition to #1: Pictures of you should be obvious selfies (arm visible, naturally), and you should be making a kissy face/duck face in each.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:38 am

LOL, cheesy cute poses would be a great addition here :P

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kimolsonphoto October 1, 2012 at 1:22 am

Nice! Definitely excellent advice we should all keep in mind. :)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:38 am

Thanks Kim :)

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Melanie @ Easy Recipes With Pictures October 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm

That’s funny! Great observations! Yes, I think everyone is guilty of “me with the Eiffel tower” kind of pictures :)

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:37 am

Thanks Melanie, I think those shots are important to take but hopefully aren’t the only ones taken :)

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Bob R October 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

It should come as no surprise that many who characterize themselves as ‘travel photographers’ take many of those tips to heart.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:37 am

Thanks Bob,

I personally know I used to break all those rules and probably still do quite often.

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Michelle October 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I cracked up at this post, I have seen so many pictures that could have been straight from this perspective. Thankfully Number 1 will never apply to me cause I HATE having pictures taken of me, phew!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I’ve added you to my google reader too.

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:36 am

Thanks Michelle,

It was great to discover your blog. I’m not big on having pictures taken of me either. It’s probably bad enough that I need to create suggesting I do take more…haha

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Kevin from Trailsnet.com October 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

After leading student tours for almost 20 years, I can add another “worst ever travel photos” tip.
Take numerous pictures of every stray dog and cat you encounter, to the exclusion of fellow travelers, landmarks and landscapes. Because you can’t see something as unique and exotic as dogs and cats back home. (-:

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Nomadic Samuel October 4, 2012 at 3:34 am

That’s a good one Kevin! It must have been awfully repetitive seeing that over time.

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Anis October 6, 2012 at 1:14 am

Can I also say- take multiple shots of you propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, carrying the Eiffel Tower in the palm of your hand and pinching the tip of the Taj Mahal? LOL!

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Nomadic Samuel October 8, 2012 at 1:49 am

Hahahaha…what are you talking about? Nobody has done those before have they? :P

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Dani Blanchette October 7, 2012 at 7:12 am

When i was in Dubrovnik, Croatia me and a few travel buddies hoped on the back of a German walking tour (none of us are, or speak German), and every time the crowd took a photo, we’d mimic their movements and also take a photo. (same vantage point, all on 100% auto, etc)

I know have 2 full rolls of film titled “Bad Tourist Photos of Dubrovnik”. At the time we thought it hilarious. Now i realize i wasted about $20 being silly.

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Dani Blanchette October 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

I really need to spell/grammar check stuff before i leave comments…..

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Nomadic Samuel October 8, 2012 at 1:47 am

Hahaha..that actually sounds fun though :)

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Mandy October 8, 2012 at 3:07 am

Haha – love these! My husband is a photographer and I’m always doing everything OPPOSITE of him – especially when we are on a trip and I want to SHARE everything NOW! Even with my iPhone camera that switches vantage points, I still take 10 self-portraits covering the attraction I am in front of and end up deleting 9 of them, LOL! Fun read :)

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Belle October 9, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Love it! Cracked up laughing when I read this, i still get frustrated seeing how many people waste all this money on buying an SLR only to use it in Auto! Why bother buying an SLR camera if you just want to point and shoot!!!

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Jeremy October 11, 2012 at 3:28 am

Too funny! All of those are so true… I used to work a photo-lab and the worst photos I’ve seen were the 10 rolls of film all taken from the passenger seat of a Winnebago and a side-mirror in almost every shot lol…

I like the deleting one… I’m guilty of taking bad shots too like everyone else but I delete probably 2/3 of my photos and keep only 1 or 2 good similar shots…

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Nomadic Samuel October 12, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hahaha, that must have been torturous looking at the Winnebago shots :)

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Traveling Ted October 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I visited this page for some travel tips. Turns out I am already an expert at taking bad photos. Thank you for the confirmation.

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Erika November 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I can think of a few people I would like to email this post to – anonymously…. Thank you for putting it into words!

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Jeremy Fischer March 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Don’t forget to keep the tip of your finger over the lens. There’s nothing like a beautiful shot with your thumb in the corner :D

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Julio Moreno March 23, 2013 at 3:48 am

Pretty good tips. I especially like to be in the photo because no one will believe I was there unless I am in the photo. My friends and family won’t take my word for it! Nor will they fall for the “look its next to all the other pictures I took in the trip.” That’s the oldest trick in the book :P.

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Ashlea May 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

So funny and true, I never got the thing about having to have myself in every picture that I take. I think some people use it as proof that they were “really there”. I know I was there, isn’t that all that matters? Haha

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Escape Hunter January 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

It’s also essential to get a good DSLR camera and even a few good lenses, filters. A good camera may cost a lot, but on the long run it pays off.
And even the entry level DSLR cameras can produce terrible photos – especially during bad light and atmospheric conditions…

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