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How to make your travel photos stand out

As part of our photography series with CEWE, photographer Pete Goding shares his secrets on how to make your shots 'pop'

How to make your travel photos stand out
Pete's dramatic shot of the horse herd in Drakensberg. Image: Pete Goding

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I’m constantly searching for something to sum up the atmosphere and personality of where I am. This could be anything, such as a person, place or animal. All the while I’m searching for the optimum lighting conditions that frame it, too. So, when on location it’s not just the subject I’m after, it’s the place that surrounds the personality of the subject within the image. 

A recent example of this arose when I was on location in Drakensberg, South Africa. Having arranged for a sunrise photoshoot, I set off with my guide to capture the changing colours of the morning light. We were greeted by the warm glow of the morning sunshine illuminating the lush green hillside, instantly creating an exceptional landscape photo. I bracketed my aperture settings to find the ideal exposure and as I began photographing, a band of horses entered the scene, kicking up a cloud of dust in their wake, creating an additional narrative to the scene. It conjured up a sense of wilderness and rural charm, and when the solitary herdsman entered the frame, bathed in golden light, the shot came together.

Pete uses Adobe software to tweak his images post-shoot. Image: Getty

When I’m home, touching up my photos, I like to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I import the images into Lightroom and then scan for the best photos from the set — I’ll initially tweak the shots, depending on the colour tones according to saturation, contrast and brightness, for example. The cataloguing process allows you to return to the original to make changes without loss of quality and you can save the preferences to replicate the treatment to produce a coherent set of images. Any additional retouching — which might involve cloning out dust, airbrushing or toning down highlights — I do in Photoshop for the final edit.

When it comes to social media, Instagram is great way to stay in touch and share ideas, but that said, giclée or fine-art printing is usually my go-to print process if I’m looking to display my work. The quality can vary from place to place, however it’s important to use a well-respected printer as your first consideration. 

Finally happy with your travel photos? Why not bring them to life in a CEWE PHOTOBOOK? Check out how to put together your very own book.

CEWE Photoworld Photography Partner of Natonal Geographic Traveller (UK)

If you’re feeling inspired, find out what our art director, Chris Hudson, looks for in a travel photo story, or get some invaluable tips from travel photographer, Slawek Kozdras.