Focus your Photos

One of the best things you will take home with you after studying abroad will be your pictures. Everyone will want to look at them! But it can be surprisingly hard to take good pictures and get the most of your time abroad.

We all know those people who only see the world through their camera lens. They are constantly taking pictures of everything and don’t seem to actually experience the moment. That’s the first difference between a tourist and a traveler. I urge you all to strive to become a traveler!  Read this article about blending in for tips!


I’d say quality over quantity is important here. You will get so much more out of a few really good photos than thousands of mediocre photos. But how to you get those good photos? Well, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to get some good snapshots abroad. Here are some basic tips to help you focus your photos!

Photograph experiences, not landmarks

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take pictures of landmarks. But sometimes, tourists get overly focused on the landmarks instead of what is happening around them. So let your eye wander. Get creative and take a shot from a different angle! What are the locals doing?  Look behind the scenes. These are the pictures that will mean the most to you.

Photo by Emily Farnan


Details, Details, Details! 

When it comes to photographing things up close, find the small details and focus in on that! For example, when photographing food zero in on the details that make the food so good: the melted cheese, the golden brown bread, the colorful vegetables! Remove all the extra stuff that doesn’t matter. Remove the extra napkins, cups, lightposts, signs, and people from the frame if possible! Make it seem like you were the only person there.


Photo by Emily Farnan


Photo by Emily Farnan


Photo by Sally Carmichael

Play with color. 

You don’t have to have Photoshop to edit a picture! It’s really easy to do on your camera, on your computer, or on your phone! Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with colors. It will make your photos more interesting at the end of the day. Just experiment with different filters, change the level of saturation, change the contrast…..there are all sorts of things you can do to make your picture unique! It was one of the coolest things to see my pictures change by just editing it a bit!


Photo by Emily Farnan


Photo by Sally Carmichael

Don’t become obsessed 

Pictures are great memories and will last a lifetime, but it’s also important to not see the world from behind a camera. You will see more and experience more if you take it all in. Look at the little things that make the environment unique. Try to understand the culture and the essence of a country.

Make sure you are in your pictures

It’s really cool to have a ton of pictures of cool places, but it’s even more meaningful if YOU are in them! I guarantee these will be some of your favorite pictures (they’re some of mine). Ask random people to take your picture, they’ll be happy to do it! Also, selfies don’t count and aren’t nearly as awesome.