Let me ask you something:

 Have you ever gone on vacation and had such a great time and were SO excited to come home and relive your trip by looking at  your photos and videos only to find that those great pictures you thought you took weren’t so great after all? 

In order to help us all level up our photography skills, I have invited a professional photographer to share his wisdom with us, Ralph Velasco.

Ralph is a professional travel photographer, author, and experienced tour organizer who over the past 13 years has organized and led more than 100 international tours around the world.


ATB: Do you have any recommendations of some gear that we should bring with us when we travel so we can, you know, come back with some great memories in the form of photos and videos?  

Ralph: Yeah. You know as they say, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” Smartphones are always with us so I would start there. And I’m shooting more and more with my smartphone.

The first tip in my book is it’s not about the camera. People get really caught up in gear and I think it really gets in the way of just getting out there and shooting. They think “I’ll start taking pictures when I get a bigger, better camera” and that’s just not the way to go about it. Don’t wait until you travel to get out and shoot. Go out in your hometown, your neighborhood, your backyard, and make mistakes when they don’t count as much.

My number two tip is to know your gear. Whether it’s a smartphone, a DSLR, a mirrorless camera…KNOW YOUR GEAR because on a once-in-a-lifetime trip is not the time to figure it out. I get a lot of people that say, “I just got a new camera” you know, three days before a trip. “I’ll read the manual on the way over” and they wonder why their photos are crap.

ATB: I know even with my DSLR, I’m sure I’m not even using a fraction of the capability that it has.

Ralph:  The more you work with your gear, the more it becomes a part of you, I can absolutely guarantee the better your photos will become.


ATB: I just recently transitioned to an iPhone and the main reason was because of the great camera it has. Do you have any tips for using your cell phone (camera) to its best ability?

Ralph:  Sure. You know, always have it ready and with you. Know how to get to the camera function very quickly. And the other thing is, don’t just use your smartphone for photographs. The beauty of these devices is that you can do time lapses, slow motion, video, panoramas, all kinds of different uses all in the same device.  

And then you can post-process within the device. I like to use Snapseed which is a free, very easy-to-use post-processing app for smartphone photographs and you can share them right to any social media if you want, text them to someone, …whatever.

These devices are just so wonderfully diverse. Now another tip is to make sure that the lenses are clean. You know, they’re in our pockets, they’re in the bottom of our purses, there’s dust and grime and stuff. Just give it a quick clean kind of at the beginning of your time out and make sure that it’s not smudged or some, you know, piece of lint or something got caught on it and that’s going to ruin your photographs for the rest of the day.

ATB: Yeah, I always forget to do that.


Ralph:  A lot of professional photographers have moved away from DSLR cameras to mirrorless systems. It’s a little bit of a hybrid but the cameras are smaller, they’re lighter, they’re less expensive, the quality tends to be just as good.  You know, I don’t even notice the difference in quality.

ATB: Ralph, I know you mentioned when we spoke before that you have a relatively new course on Skillshare. Can you tell us something about that?

Ralph:  Yeah. It’s a free course. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial and you can take my course which is about 90 minutes long and it’s  called “Make Travel Photography Everyone Wants to See.” It’s a fairly basic course but I think people will get a lot of good information out of it.

ATB: Gosh, we’ve gotten some really great tips from you, Ralph. I know everyone is going to get a lot out of it. Where can we find you online?

Ralph:  Well, you can find me at The Continental Drifter on YouTube. My websites – because I’ve got a ContinentalDrifter.co is my travel blog. There’s also PhotoEnrichment.com for my Photo Enrichment Adventures which are a little bit more based on photography and then I created a new travel brand called Alla Campagna Experiences. “Alla campagna” means “to the countryside” and so we’re staying at smaller, more interesting locations. And then I’m on all the social media outlets mostly @RalphVelasco.

ATB: Check out the links above and check out all of Ralph’s great stuff. Maybe book a tour with one of his tour companies.

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