Phones are fun, but digital cameras are better. If you're taking the trip of a lifetime, or you are hoping to zoom in on a subject or to create a print that doesn't feel pixelated when blown up, it's best to shoot with a proper digital lens camera on the road. For a compact digital camera we love the Sony Cyber Shot, Panasonic Lumix, and, for a real splurge, the Leica Q.
For adrenaline activities, consider an action cam. These days it's so easy to snap photos and video on autopilot while jumping out of an airplane or rafting wild whitewater. The two big players in this market are GoPro and Sony. We own both, but love our Sony ActionCam best for its super steady shooting capabilities, extended battery life, and ability to shoot 4K-quality video.
Keep it simple. When photographing on the road, try to keep what's inside the frame relatively simple. Look for one subject (maybe two), and focus on these rather than cluttering up the shot with too much material.
The same goes for open space. Don't worry if you have a lot of open space in your photo as long as you have one definitive subject. Let's say you're shooting in the dunes of Namibia and want to show viewers just how empty this land is. Try focusing on one tree or plant, then leaving the rest of the frame open. This technique will enhance the subject in relation to its environment.
Who is the audience? Are you taking pictures to print out and frame, or just to post on social media? Your perceived audience can dictate the way you frame a picture. For Instagram, for instance, you'll want a photo that fits properly into a square frame—so you need to consider this when shooting. For a blog or a print, however, a more traditional, wide-screen variety may be more appropriate.
Know your megapixels. There's nothing worse than shooting a bunch of pictures on the road—photos that look great on a tiny smartphone or LCD screen—and then realizing they are completely pixelated when blown up even to Facebook size. To make sure this doesn't happen, shoot with a camera that has a minimum of 8MP if you plan to post the images to the web. For high-quality large prints, start in the 16MP range.
Always ask permission. In some cultures, taking a photograph is considered taboo, so travelers should always ask before taking a close-up of a person or even a small group. The exception might be a crowd shot. For sensitivity's sake, however, it is always best to ask if you're shooting in a place where you don't know the rules.
Timing is everything. Plan ahead if you're counting on your photographs. This means that if you're just passing through a location, you should try to anticipate when you'll arrive so that you can shoot the place in optimal lighting—when the juxtaposition of shadows and highlights is at its peak.
Consider an app. Use technology to figure out the best times to shoot a particular location so that you can plan accordingly. Try downloading an app like Sun Seeker that shows the position of the sun at various times of the day.
Keep an eye out for the bizarre and the hyper-local. From unique signs to giant sculptures, watch for anything out of the ordinary while you're on a trip, and try to convey a sense of place by photographing the subject in a manner that also captures the destination. This might include taking a series of shots from different angles.