Hi, I'm Angi
Welcome to my corner of the internet! My passions include travel, photography, books, music, Japanese language and culture, Italian language and culture, and art.

Here at Abbott Lane you'll find my thoughts on these topics and much more. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Stop Taking Tourist Snapshots: 5 Tips to Take Your Travel Photos to the Next Level

Hey folks! So, this is the time of year that many of you will head off on a vacation (...and where are you going??? Tell me in the comments - I love hearing about others' travel plans!). I thought it'd be great to share some things to think about as you head off into the greater world with camera in hand. I often hear people return from their trip and lament that they feel something is missing from the images they brought back. Of course, nothing can match the magic of actually being there, but keeping a few of these tips in mind while shooting will help you return with photos that go beyond typical snapshots, so you can bring a little bit of the love back home with you.

1. Seek the Unusual
This is probably the most obvious tip, and the one that comes most naturally to people when away from home traveling. But when I say unusual, I mean UNUSUAL. Be a little daring. Seek out nooks and crannies that offer up interesting bits to photograph. Go off the beaten path a little, even if you're in a big city. Tell a weird little story in your photo. This photo was taken in an alley in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. No, I have no idea what it is. But it was fun finding it, and I still get a laugh when I see this photo!

2. Seek the Mundane
Yup. I'm suggesting you also seek out the dull, the quotidian, and the everyday. Why? Because these are the photos that truly fascinate. There's a reason people photograph laundry hanging outside of windows in places like Italy, and it's not because laundry is a gloriously beautiful thing. It's because these types of images give us a sense of our place in the world - how cultures are similar to our own, and how they differ. I love this photo of an electronics store in the Shibuya area of Tokyo. There's just something so every day about it, and at the same time it provides a great glimpse into the energy of the city.

3. Get up early (or stay out late)
Some of the best times to explore large cities are before it awakens, or after it goes to bed. There's something beautiful and magical about a large urban area completely - or nearly - empty of its usual hustle and bustle. And it should go without saying - be aware of your surroundings, and stay safe!

4. Look around you
When you're at famous monuments or historical sites, be sure to look around and see what else your vantage point has to offer. I took this at the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, but facing the opposite direction of the world famous view. If I hadn't taken a moment to look behind me, I would have missed it!

5. Photograph for yourself
While it's great to come home with photos of incredible sunsets, amazing vistas, and typical tourist shots of Important Places to prove you were there, in my opinion it's more important to bring home photos that trigger personal memories. This is one of my favorite photos from my time in Tokyo. Surprised? Probably. But let me explain why. This was taken the morning of our first full day in the city. We woke up and walked a bit around our neighborhood until we stumbled across this adorably tiny coffee shop. Up on the second level of the cafe was this small seating area. Not much was there except for a couple of tables, a hanger, a stool, and this stack of books on a box. The smell of coffee filtered up from downstairs, and warm light streamed in through the windows. We sat and watched people move through the streets below on their way to work, while the hissing sound of the espresso machine drifted up from downstairs. I remember how beautifully crafted our drinks were when they arrived at our table, and I remember that this was the very moment I started to fall in love with Tokyo. All of that resides in this photo which, on the surface, probably looks pretty boring to most people. But to me, it's full of precious memories.

BONUS TIP: Print your photos, or make them into an album. It's so important, in this age of speed and disposability, to have something tangible to flip through and enjoy for years to come. When technology moves on to different storage media, or your hard drive (heaven forbid) crashes, you'll still have something in hand to revisit and share with family and friends well into the future.


  1. Hi Angi, thanks for the tips! We are headed to a beach wedding in Greece, a mountain cabin on the German/Austrian border, the city of Nuernberg, and in addition I get to spend a day in Berlin and sing a Sunday morning service with a traveling choir in Leipzig's Thomaskirche, where Bach was head music guy. Very very lucky.
    I plan to travel light with just with my iPhone camera. I am a way amateur photographer, but have some running collections of images I like, triggered by what catches my eye: street musicians, metal and stone, bicycles, doors and windows, shoes, roofs and facades, flowers.

    1. Your trip sounds absolutely INCREDIBLE! You'll be spoiled for choice with all of the locations you'll be hitting. And the iPhone makes for an incredible travel companion! Do you use any apps to edit your images? I'm a big fan of both Snapseed and VSCO. They both give my iPhone photos a little something extra when they need it. Enjoy your travels!!!


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