5 Tips For Taking Better Travel Photos With Mike Pham
Mike Pham is one of the coolest photographers getting around right now. From travel shots, portraits, landscapes and action sports, his shots capture your eye instantly yet still give you something to think about upon a closer inspection. Mike’s unique vision has seen him go from taking up photography seriously in 2016 (buying a Canon 7D, lens and tripod off his then boss for $1200) to now working with global brands and self-funding adventure trips through places like Alaska.
Growing up drawing and painting under the watchful gaze of his mom, who taught him about the importance of composition and composition, Mike is a keen study with inspiring attention to detail. We sat down with Mike recently to get his top 5 tips for taking better travel photos. Here are his key insights…
1. Planning is crucial.
Before any trip, look up locations for sunset and sunrise. I also create a google map of all my locations as I research, so that I have them all in one area and easily assessable. Looking at locations geographically helps plan your route as you plan your logistics.
2. Think about what to pack and pack light
Once you have an idea of locations, figure out what to pack. Bring only what you need, it’s hard but your back with thank you. When I travel I need to think about clothes, camping gear (if we are camping), sleeping gear, and camera gear. For adventures, my core camera gear is the Canon 5d mk iv, Canon L ii 35m 1.4(portraits, lifestyle), Canon L iii 16-35mm 2.8(landscapes), and sometimes the Canon L ii 70-200mm 2.8(landscapes, portraits).
3. Pay Attention To Lighting
Light often makes the shot. Before I shoot anything I’m always looking at the light. I try to find interesting light where ever that may be. Even if you are shooting at midday where the light is harsh, go inside or in the shade and see what happens.
4. Don’t Worry Too Much About Your Gear
Gear isn’t everything. You don’t need the best and latest camera gear. The best camera is the one you have and it is true even if it’s your iPhone. I shoot on my iPhone a lot and always carry a cheap point and shoot film camera. It’s all about shooting the genuine moments. To me, subject is everything. You can have a super clear, high-quality image but if the subject is poor then the overall image might fall short. However, you can have an unfocused photo shot with an iPhone of a great moment that ends up being your favorite shot.
5. My life pro tip: Have fun.
Can’t take anything in life seriously. Enjoy things and it will shine through in your work.
Mike’s Go-To Camera Bag
My go-to adventure one-stop bag is the Venturesafe X40 Plus with the Camsafe PCI-L or Medium insert. I’m a huge advocate of camera inserts!!! And Pacsafe has the some of the best ones on the market I’ve used and seen. I love camera inserts because you can pack your DSLR, 2-3 lens and interchange the insert between your backpacks. My camera inserts fit in my day pack, my backpacking pack or any duffle bag and I know my gear is secured and safe.
By Tim Hawken
Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading to his website, or following him on Instagram and Twitter.