Not much compares to the adventure of traveling. Our world becomes both bigger and smaller with each adventure outside our homes. As a mom of 5 kids, I hope to instill a love for adventure and people in my kids. When we venture to places both near and far, my camera is always in hand to document our experiences. Looking back at travel photos, we are reminded again of the experiences we gained, beauty we stood in awe of and the people we met along the way. Below are ten tips for capturing your travel adventures, whether you are using a fancy DSLR or a smartphone as your main camera.

Learn the basics of photography before your adventure

As you plan your itinerary, take time to dive into the basics of photography. Whether you increase your knowledge through library books, online forums or workshops, understanding the foundational elements of photography will give you an upper hand on capturing your adventure in stunning ways.

Avoid “Say Cheese”

It is so tempting to take photos standing in front of something you want to remember with a big “say cheese” smile. Instead of forced smiles in front of every landmark, aim to capture real moments even if they don’t include big smiles. Let your camera observe and record moments without interfering with what is happening in front of you.

Capture Details

We often focus so much on the big picture during travel — the majestic mountain, the vast plains — that we can overlook the details that make up the journey. Slow down to notice the details of your adventures, like the way your son’s hiking boots are just a bit too big or the way your friend always kneels the same way when lighting the campfire. It the midst of capturing the scenery, capture the details too.

Use the rule of thirds

Imagine a grid of 9 rectangles when you look through your camera (3 columns across, 3 rows down). Try keeping your subject near the intersection points instead of the very center. This is a simple way to add interest to your photos.

Pay attention to your light

Large areas of open shade can produce beautiful portraits. The harsh direct sun of midday can add dramatic shadows to your photos. The early morning and late day light can provide sun flares, softness and stunning backgrounds. As you explore your location, watch for the way the light interacts with the setting and people.

Get up early

If you are visiting a popular tourist destination, you can often avoid large crowds and extra people in your shots by beginning your day early. If your schedule allows, get up at sunrise and capture photos with beautiful light and less people.

Stay out late

You are also less likely to run into crowds when you stay out a little later, and you can capture the golden light at sunset. At many tourist destinations, the crowds tend to disperse around the dinnertime hours. Wildlife are generally more active during evening hours as well, so you may be rewarded with an opportunity to see animals out and about.

Change your angle

Instead of simply aiming your camera at the subject, move around. Get low, get high, come in close, get far back – change it up a bit. Or a lot!

You need light to freeze action

The brighter the light, the more likely you can sharply capture action without using your in-camera flash. When shooting in the auto setting on your camera or using a smartphone, keep in mind: the more light, the sharper the moving subject.

Invest in a selfie stick

When capturing yourself in photos, sometimes using a big camera and self timer is just not practical. Selfie sticks attach to your phone, extend out and allow you to capture yourself and the scenery in a photo.

Photos by Ashley Campbell