At Last, Make Travel Photo Memories Like a Tech Savvy Travel Blogger (no DSLR Camera Required)!

I have always taken photos while away on holiday.  It is always great to periodically get out my old photo albums which help to bring back great memories.  In the modern age of digital photography it is extremely easy to take photos on a plethora of devices, including smartphones, tablet computers, dedicated compact cameras and Digital SLR cameras.

The aim of this article is to help you to take an easy approach to plan and execute your travel photos which result in travel photo memories like mine (as a travel blogger).  In this current age of technology there are many options out there but the aim is to keep it as simple (and as cheap) as possible with the following seven tips.  And no, you won’t need a DSLR camera…

1.   Synchronise the Date and Time on Your Photo Devices

If you intend to use multiple devices on your trip a key tip is to ensure that the date and time on each device is synchronised before you start taking your photos.

The reason why is that when you finish your trip if you merge all of the photos taken into a single folder on your computer, this approach ensures that the photos are all in the correct sequence.  This then makes it much easier to review the photos and select your favourites.

Situations where you may have multiple devices include the following:

  • Where you take photos on both a smartphone camera shots as well as some kind of dedicated camera such as a compact or DSLR camera.
  • If you have multiple people in your party each using their own device/s to take photos.

2.   Plan How to Back Up Your Travel Photos

While you are travelling it is essential to back up your photos, in the event that your photo device/s are stolen, damaged or lost.

If you are travelling in a country with easy access to wifi then an online storage option is the easiest.  My app of choice is Dropbox as once I have set up an account I can load the app onto multiple devices.  We have the Dropbox app loaded onto our smartphones, and one of the setttings is to automatically backup camera photos to Dropbox when wifi is connected.  This setting can be turned on and off as it suits you.  If you use other cloud storage options check out whether they have a similar feature.

If you are travelling in a country where wifi access is limited then consider the option to back up your photos to a separate compact hard drive, and plan to store this drive in a separate bag to where your camera is stored.

3.   Consider How You Will Use Your Travel Photos

Before you depart consider how you plan to use your travel photos.  Do you plan to make a photo album (or write a travel blog article in my case) when you return, or are you just planning to share the highlights on social media?

Think about how you will tell the story of your trip.  Make sure that you plan to include some photos of yourself or your group.  Plan ahead by either purchasing a selfie stick or planning to ask other people to take photos of your group.

If you plan to share your photos via social media then ensure that you have set up your accounts and connected with your friends before you depart.  Practise using the camera and apps before you go.  Also consider whether you will have data or wifi access in your destination – you may need to consider purchasing a local phone SIM card or wifi package.

4.   Don’t Take Too Many Photos…

It is easy to get snap happy but when you later need to review the photos if you have taken too many it becomes a major chore.  For example, when we went to Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo my husband took 1600 photos on his DSLR camera.  I dread reviewing those photos to determine our photo shortlist.

If you are taking too many photos you are not allowing yourself to just enjoy the moment.  I have ‘fond’ memories 😕  of seeing tourists wander through a major art gallery taking photos and videos so they can look at them when they get home and not once ever raising their head and looking and just appreciating the art at that moment in time.

So plan to find the right balance between taking some photos and just enjoying the experience.

Don’t worry if you are just a happy snapper – your photos are YOUR memories of the trip.  With modern cameras you can take pretty reasonable photos without being a pro so focus on enjoying your trip without worrying about whether you will take the ‘ideal’ photo.  Plan to learn a little more about how to use your camera before you go.  Options to take panoramic photos are useful, and also learn how to set you camera up for night time / dark environment photos.

Also, another tip is to not plan to purchase a DSLR camera just before you head off on your trip.  Being able to take professional looking photos is a skill that needs to be developed over a period of time – and a trained photographer can take good photos even on a basic camera.  But an untrained photographer will still take average photos with a DSLR camera, plus a DSLR is big and heavy to carry which is annoying when you are travelling.  So if you currently just use your smartphone to take photos then plan to keep using it on your trip!  Just make sure you have a back up battery option.

You may not realise but most of the photos on this blog have been taken using a smartphone camera.  My husband has a DSLR camera setup, and I appreciate his photo skills and use his photos when they are available, but most of the photos are mine!  The trick is to learn how to quickly edit your photos – see point 6 below for more detailed information on photo editing.

5.   Sorting your Photos

When you return home the next step is to review and sort all of your photos.  If you have taken too many photos then this can be a bit of a daunting task – I am still going through the photos from our recent Japan trip – we only have around 6,000 photos (a combination of photos from two smartphones and my husband’s DSLR camera photos) from a two week trip…

First ensure that you have downloaded all of your photos to a single folder.  If you go on a large trip I recommend that you then break the photos down into sub-folders for each section of your trip.  Once you have a manageable chunk of photos you can then create a ‘photo favourites’ folder and make copies of your favourite photos into this folder.  you can see an example in the image below, which is how I have structured our recent Japan trip photos.

An Example - how I Sort My Photos
An Example – how I Sort My Photos

Once you have completed your initial review of your photos I recommend that you then back up this folder.

6.   Editing your Photos for Free

Once you have completed your sorting the next step is to edit your photos.  You do not need to be an expert to touch up and improve your photos.  Modern tools like PicMonkey enable anyone to produce professional looking photos for free.  PicMonkey is the major tool that I use to edit my photos for this blog – I also use Canva but find that for basic photo editing that PicMonkey is my preferred option.

In Picmonkey select ‘Edit’ and then choose the photo you wish to edit.  It opens into the ‘Basic Edits’ section.  Note that you do not need to sign up for the free trial – that is for the premium Royale service, but you can do all of the steps below without needing to sign up to the service.

PicMonkey - Starting Photo
PicMonkey – Starting Photo

My usual photo editing workflow is as follows:

  • Rotate – use this tool to straighten your photo. The straighten slider enables you to rotate the photo until you are happy that it is straight.  Use the grid to find a point of reference and use that to straighten the photo.  Hit apply and you are done.
PicMonkey - Photo Straightening
PicMonkey – Photo Straightening
  • Exposure – use this tool to improve the colours in your photo. I usually deepen the shadows slightly (take the slider to the left), and have a play with the other settings to see if your photo looks better.  Be careful that you do not overdo it – you want it to look like a reasonably natural photo.  Once you are done then hit apply.
PicMonkey - Adjusting Exposure
PicMonkey – Adjusting Exposure
  • Colors – use this tool to finish improving the colours in your photo. I usually increase the saturation of the photo (take the slider to the right) – usually only marginally, again less is more.  You can also play with the temperature setting to make the photo more blue or red.  Hit apply.
PicMonkey - Adjusting Photo Colour
PicMonkey – Adjusting Photo Colour
  • Crop – use this tool to crop your photo. I finish with cropping – see this link for tips on how to crop.  Consider what you plan to use the photo for.  If it is going into a photo album what is a size which will fit your album?  If you are posting to social media again check the preferred photo size.
PicMonkey - Photo Cropping
PicMonkey – Photo Cropping
  • Save – finally save your photo using the menu at the top. Again depending on how you will use the photo you can select three different sizes.  If you are going to use in a photo album select the highest quality, if you plan to use on social media or in a blog article then select the lower quality option.  I always leave the original file name the same and then add on a note to the end of the file name eg ‘edited – low quality’ to remind me how I have edited the photo.  Be careful that you do not over write your original file!
PicMonkey - Saving Your Photos
PicMonkey – Saving Your Photos
  • Other Features – you can also have a play with the other features of the PicMonkey app to add text, filters etc as it suits you. You can also create collages with multiple photos in both PicMonkey and Canva.
PicMonkey Photo Editing - The Final Product
PicMonkey Photo Editing – The Final Product

7.   Creating Photo Memories

We always like to put together a photo album for our travel experiences.  We regularly use the online Snapfish website (Australia) to put together our albums, which is quite easy.

You first upload all of your photos, and you can then set up your photo book. They regularly run promo deals to get your album printed at a cheaper price, so for photo books we set it up, wait for a promo deal to come through and then get it printed.  You can also get a heap of other photo memories printed to suit your own taste.  Similar services are available for most countries so find your own local options to get photo books and photo memories printed.

There is also the option to set up your photo albums and galleries online using sites such as SmugMug, which is a paid service.  I am planning to check out these services in the near future.

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I hope this article has helped you to plan how you will create your travel photo memories.  Please leave a comment below to share your experience.

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  • Great travel photo tips Anne. I made the mistake of purchasing a DLSR camera prior to embarking on our around Australia trip and didn’t really know how to use it properly. Since returning I am finally learning how to use it properly. I use Fotor to edit my photos but since purchasing an Apple laptop computer it can all be done through their Photos app. This really saves time! I also create photobooks of all of our trips via Photobooks Express. They are very good quality.

    • Kathy, thank you for your comment. I know that I prefer to use a point and shoot style of camera, whereas my husband has had the interest and patience to learn to use a DSLR. That photobook option sounds good!

  • Small modern cameras with good zoom can fit into your pocket and are great when walking around town etc. Even on full auto they can take great pics in all sorts of places even in low light. Still work on good composition though. The ones I have had have gps built in and can be used to track your trip.

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