Tips for exciting travel photography - Jacob James


The early morning sun in Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan, breaks through the roof of the yurt, creating a magical shaft of light through the cooking steam.
LUMIX GX8 with LEICA DG SUMMILUX 15mm / F1.7 ASPH.(H-X015)
1/50 sec, F1.7, ISO 500

As the sun set behind the church in Breb, Maramures, the golden light began to glisten through the smoke rising from the village houses.
LUMIX GX7 with LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S.(H-HS35100)
1/640 sec, F5.6, ISO 200

Pilgrim in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel
1/60 sec, F1.2, ISO 800

Having started as a photographer of ‘anything really’, Jacob James discovered travel photography some years ago. It soon became his gateway to learning more about cultures and meeting interesting people. Today he is so enthusiastic about what travel photography offers him that he wants everyone to explore the world and make the best images they can. Start improving your travel pics right here and now by reading Jacob’s tips.

Get closer
If I weren’t a photographer I would still travel because to me exploring places and meeting people is my greatest passion. It is the human aspect that I find the most fascinating. So my first tip would be to get closer to people. I often travel with a local person who can speak the language, or I befriend someone while I’m somewhere to help me communicate with the people and to understand the area in which I’m travelling. Take an extra step to build up some kind of relationship with your subject, so that you can get into their world.

Use burst mode
Stick a camera in front of people and they freeze; this is the same whether you’re in Mumbai or in London. Often when I shoot portraits of people, I shoot in burst mode. I hold my finger down on the shutter to take multiple images in one go and usually the third, fourth or fifth image into the sequence is the best. Generally, there is a split second between when your subject thinks the picture is being taken and when the next will come. In that moment, they relax a tiny bit and that’s when you’ll capture the best facial expression, the best look for people.

Be creative
In my experience, my best images were often taken after I got the image I thought I wanted. You go into a situation with an idea, capture the idea and then creatively you kind of relax. That’s when I start experimenting with the composition, try out different things and usually that is when the better image is made. Work the theme, keep shooting, do more than you think you need to do.

Use the light
A bad subject with good light generally results in a better image than a good subject with bad light. I find the light to be definitely more important than the subject. It is when you have them both together that you can take a striking image. A lot of people suggest photographing at sunrise or sunset, which I think is good for a certain kind of beautiful image, but great light is the right kind of light you need for your subject and atmosphere. 

Jacob James

Jacob James

Travel and cultural documentary photographer Jacob James has a passion for new cultures and experiences.
His work centres on capturing the human aspect of life for people across the globe and has been published in well-known magazines and photography journals.
[instagram] @jacobjamesphoto