[Edited Video Transcript]

Do you want to learn how to bring home better travel photos and videos from your next adventure?  

Taking great shots involves a lot more than just pointing and shooting, so I’ve enlisted the help of professional travel photographer and tour guide, Ralph Velasco. He has graciously agreed to share his time and his many pearls of wisdom from his years of experience traveling the world.

So if you missed Part 1 of the “Take Better Travel Photos & Videos: Best Camera Gear,” check it out here but before you do, make sure you watch THIS video all the way through. There’s even more great information from Ralph. And even if you only implement a few of the tips, I’m sure your next batch of travel photos and videos will be even better than the previous one.

[ATB: A Traveling Broad  //  RV: Ralph Velasco ]


I think pictures are such an important part of any kind of travel. Someone I used to date used to get really mad when I would stop and take pictures on our trips and he’d say, “you’re not enjoying yourself” and I’d say “this is HOW I enjoy myself. And when I go home, I can look at the beautiful pictures I took and I can remember where I was and what I was doing and what was going on around me.

RV: I always am saying don’t be afraid to put the camera down and enjoy the place. Be there now. Don’t go through a whole trip seeing it through the viewfinder of a lens. Now, it’s entirely a personal thing but sometimes we do that and we come back with nice shots but then you end up having seen the place just through the viewfinder of a lens and maybe didn’t really experience it.

ATB: It’s a tough balance because, you know, you don’t want to miss anything cool that’s going on around you but you do also want to live in the moment.

RV: I’ve come to realize that I’m not going to get every shot and as soon as I got that mindset, I was able to enjoy myself a lot more and not feel like I’m missing something.

And if I can make another suggestion in that situation where you, you know, you have someone…you’re traveling with someone that maybe isn’t necessarily into photography, get out early by yourself.

Number one, the best time of day to shoot is early in the morning when the light’s really great and there are fewer tourists out, before the heat of the day but also, you don’t feel rushed by someone who’s maybe not into photography and you do your own thing. And then you come back and meet them for breakfast and have the middle of the day when the light’s terrible and all the people are out and have that together with them, but you got out on your own at your own pace and you enjoyed it that way.

I don’t even get my groups out for every sunrise. Typically we have breakfast maybe 7:00-7:30 am, go out 7:30 am/8:00 am. We’re out there when the kids are on their way to school, people are on their way to work, the locals are around, there’s less crime at that time of day because there are no tourists. Pickpockets and stuff are out when there are tourists.

ATB: Getting up early definitely has its benefits.


ATB: We already talked about time around sunrise being really good as far as the light is good and there are fewer people out. Are there any other times a day that you think are the best times to catch some really great shots?

RV:  Well, you know, you’ve got The Golden Hour and that’s like sunrise and sunset but there’s also The Blue Hour and that’s BEFORE sunrise and AFTER sunset and if uh, you know, a lot of times, especially at sunset people will photograph the sunset as soon as the sun hits the horizon, they pack up and leave but I recommend waiting around a little bit longer and you’ll often get that blue hour and that’s a really deep blue sky and it’s really such a great time of day.

Now, this also happens before sunrise so that means getting out even earlier than sunrise. You know, in summer the days are going to be a lot longer so you’ve got to get out even earlier and stay out later. So I like traveling and doing my group tours more in Spring and Fall whatever hemisphere I’m in because the days are sort of medium length.  

In winter, they’re even, the days are shorter but you know oftentimes it can be cold and it’s really important uh you know for your own travels and so understanding that but that Blue Hour. you can get some really unique shots that other people aren’t getting.


With sunset and sunrise, you usually don’t want the sun in the shot actually. You know, there’s a very short window of time, maybe 5 or 10 minutes as the sun just comes up over the horizon at sunrise or just as it’s going to hit the horizon at sunset.

If it’s too high, it’s going to be too bright in the frame. You’re going to have a lot of trouble with exposure, the camera is going to want to knock the exposure down because it’s so bright, and then all your foregrounds and things all the shadows are blocked up and they’re black.  

You can frame so the sun it’s not in the shot and maybe there’s a photo opportunity there. I think that the photo opportunity is what the sun is shining ON, which is usually behind you if you’re looking at the sunset or sunrise. It’s that beautiful Golden Hour on those buildings behind you or those mountains behind you that the sun is shining on, not necessarily the actual sun.


RV:  When it comes to video, I absolutely recommend always shooting horizontally because there’s nothing worse than watching the news and you know someone submitted a video or whatever and they shot it vertically and then you see those two big black bars on either side and you get this tiny little photo or video in the middle. I’m always thinking about shooting for my YouTube channel or that one day that I might capture the alien ship landing and I want to make sure it’s a vertical video.

The thing about video is a lot of times, people want to follow the action. So to me, it’s more about trying to be still and letting the action happen in front of you.

Try to maybe lean up against a tree or a building and just keep it nice and steady. If you need to move, move very slowly towards where, you know, something else is happening if that’s the case, and don’t make all these jerky moves.

The other thing is sound. Sound is so important and you can get very inexpensive lavalier mics for $15 or $20 and connect them right to your phone, even wireless ones that are usually a little bit more expensive but quality sound is so important when it comes to video. You know, they’ll click away for bad sound before bad video.  

ATB: Thank you so much! You’ve given us all so much to think about and all these new things to try, so I think all of our vacation photography is going to be leveling up after this talk!

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