Follow these simple photography rules for better travel photos (Dreamstime)
List 10 August

5 ever-so-simple photography rules

Photographer Max Milligan has travelled the length and breadth of his homeland Scotland for his new book. He takes a break to give you five top tips to improve your snaps

1. Avoid Clichés

It's a common thing to say, but shoot the shot you haven't seen before. In travel, landmark places like Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and Monument Valley have been photographed to death. You have all the shots you've ever seen in books and magazines in your head – the light or angle that strikes you as fresh is likely to be original.

2. Learn the lingo

A few words of a language, especially an unusual one like Quechua (a native South American language), will show you have at least made an effort and endear you a little to local people. I always ask directions even when I am not lost – it breaks the ice and with a pair of large cameras around your neck, people often end up asking for a portrait or a picture of their family.

3. Know your kit

You should be able to handle it even in the dark and play it like a piano – travel subjects, and wildllife especially, do not wait for you to change lens, shutter speed or aperture (taking for granted you never shoot on automatic). On safari I will keep my longest lens at the ready with the cap off, and shoot a test shot each time light changes through cloud cover or vegetation.

4. Shoot sparingly

I thank God I learned photography on expensive Kodachrome film. Discipline yourself to shoot two or three great shots instead of 20 to 30 careless ones. This reduces your time spent editing when you are tired later. I carry only one spare memory card, deleting the average shots constantly to leave only the good at day's end. On a long trip it also saves battery power and a few gigabytes of disc storage.

5. Body back up

Have a second (or third) camera body. Changing lenses is often clumsy under pressure and static pulls dust inside. One wide angle and a telephoto cover most subjects and you are ready at all times. Bodies can be on a different settings such as ISO or colour balance for flexibility. It also saves you when a Hippo eats one of them, or you leave it in a taxi...

The Soul of ScotlandMax Milligan's new photography book, The Soul of Scotland, showcases over 300 beautifully composed, intense and unique images of Scotland. Focusing on the country's rural splendour, cityscapes, farmland and suburbs, Milligan creates a mesmerising overview of the country, as well as presenting the people who inhabit these places and their distinct cultural styles. The Soul of Scotland is available to buy on Amazon now.

Want more travel photography tips? Pick up a copy of Take Better Travel Photos online – quote WEB0812 and save a £1 before 15 August 2012.

Or enter Wanderlust's Travel Photo of the Year competition for your chance to win a photography commission for Wanderlust magazine to Papua New Guinea. Find out more here.

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