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An Instagram Star's Tricks for Making Your Travel Photos Look Amazing

These tips are pretty much priceless.

Marianna Jamadi has spent a lifetime capturing what words often fail to convey. As a full-time professional travel photographer, Jamadi has traveled the world—from Finland to Mongolia, Nicaragua to Colombia—creating a time capsule of images embodying the essence and soul of a place. When not documenting her travels via iPhone on her Instagram feed, @nomadic_habit, her camera of choice is a Canon Mark III. I caught up with the jetsetter herself to learn how we can all take better photographs while on trips, no matter our photography equipment at hand.

At Mercado Bazurto in Cartagena, Colombia, Jamadi frames this shot around light pouring in from the open canopy above.

1. Discover light and play with shadows.

Light may be one of the most important elements of photography. It changes the way a landscape and setting appears, and the balance can be a key factor in creating the most dramatic photos. “Play with capturing light and shadows in various forms at various times of day. I find early morning light to be the most incredible,” Jamadi says.

Jamadi first asked these New Delhi men permission before photographing them, allowing their vibrant personalities to shine forth.

2. Make a connection.

Taking candid portraits of locals can be a sensitive matter. All cultures are different, and some people may be flattered if you ask to photograph them, while others will be more cautious. “It's always a good idea to ask permission if you feel you are intruding upon someone’s personal space. If you’re lucky, locals are more than excited to show their personality,” Jamadi says.

Jamadi captures fire dancers in motion at Koh Phi Phi beach in Thailand.

3. Play with motion.

Motion, whether crisp or clear, creates the most dynamic images, triggering a sense of emotion, which often adds another layer of feeling to a photograph. “Just because something is blurry does not mean you should automatically discard it. Whether it's a moving car, train, person, or object, remember that traveling is all about momentum,” Jamadi says. 

Jamadi uses a person to show the vastness and scale of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert landscape.

4. Explore the sense of scale.

Sometimes photographs don’t accurately capture what the naked eye sees. A breathtaking landscape can be before you, but the image doesn’t represent the grandeur you’re witnessing. To combat this, Jamadi suggests creating a sense of scale through objects and people. “Inserting a person or object into the scene can help create the drama and gravity of a landscape,” Jamadi says. 

Jamadi snapped this photograph while riding in a van down a bumpy dirt road in Mongolia.
5. Photograph from windows.

The best photographs don’t necessarily come from actually being in a place. You can be moving through it, by land or air, and still take beautiful images. “Just because you’re traveling by car, train, or tuk-tuk does not mean your camera has to be put away. I've captured some of my favorite shots out of a moving car,” Jamadi says. 

To keep up with Jamadi’s travels, follow her on Instagram, @nomadic_habit.

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