Travel Photo Tips - Rome and Paris

Get ready for photo overload! As promised, today's post is all about my trip to Europe. I hope you enjoy it and can learn a few useful tips for getting the photos you want when you are traveling. I'll also discuss how I balance shooting with my phone vs. my camera. 

I photographed my trip with three different cameras: my trusty iPhone 6s, my Nikon d7000 and my absolute favorite, a medium format film camera called the Hasselblad 500 c/m. Let's get one thing straight about me; I absolutely LOVE film. I used Kodak Portra 400 for the photos below. Unfortunately, purchasing and developing film can get expensive, and it is a more time consuming format when on-the-go, otherwise I probably would have easily shot 30 rolls on this trip! Here are a few of my favorites. 

Ponte Sant'Angelo - Bridge of Angels

Photographing Rome - Castel San'tAngelo - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

Trajan Column & Heart of Rome

Photographing Rome - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

Colosseum Detail

Photographing Rome - Colosseum - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

Streets of Montmartre, France

Photographing Paris - Montmartre - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

Paris Street Artist

Photographing Paris - Montmartre - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

This is easily one of my favorite shots of my whole trip. This lady was so fun to talk to; I loved her accent, learning about her art background and techniques and hearing how her father also made a living as an artist in Montmartre before his old age. 

Photographing Paris - Montmartre - Street & Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

When shooting film, you have to be super careful to get the right composition, exposure and especially make sure you subject is in focus. I shot this at f/2.8 which was risky, but I really wanted the image to capture the essence of who she is. I didn't want any other faces to distract in the background, but you still see enough of the quaint streets and the majestic Sacre Coeur behind her. Luckily, I snapped it at the perfect moment when she had the expression I was hoping for. 


Moving on to some shots from my digital camera, I have to say that I LOVED having my wide angle lens for this trip! I use the Sigma 10-20mm lens which you can find here on Amazon. A wide angle helps so much when photographing landscapes, architecture and interiors. I was amazed at how much more I could get in my frame, especially when photographing inside cathedrals such as St. Peter's Basilica and Sainte-Chappel. It also allowed me to be close to a structure and still squeeze the majority of it in my frame. 

Photographing Rome - Pantheon - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris
Photographing Rome - Capitol Building - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

One thing to note is that many places you might visit are CROWDED! It is hard to get ideal photographs when there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people in the way. I decided to embrace it and then get creative with my compositions in order to eliminate the distracting people. I honestly loved how in Rome, you'll turn a random street corner and HELLO! There's an incredible historic landmark right in the middle. So this photo of the Pantheon shows that reality. I might not frame it, but I want to remember how I felt when I first saw it. 

Photographing Rome - Roman Pantheon - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

By walking closer and changing my composition, I'm able to get a good shot of just the Pantheon and nobody else in my frame. You don't have to settle; work around your scenario to get what you want! 

Photographing Rome - Roman Pantheon - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

Remember when I mentioned THOUSANDS of people? It wasn't easy navigating our way down the Spanish Steps. A simple iPhone photo was fine enough here for me. 

Pictures of Rome - The Spanish Steps - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

It was fun to try and capture the culture and life in both Paris and Rome as well as photographing the main attractions. Look for details or side streets that catch your eye. I was also in love with the trees in Rome (see below). 

Photographing Rome - Rome Street - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris
Photographing Rome - Roman Forum - Travel Photography Tips and Highlights from Rome & Paris

We walked through the Roman Forum (below) in the middle of the day when the sun was at its highest and harshest point. I decided to play around with my aperture and shot this at f/22 to tone the sun down. I then brightened the foreground of the image in post-processing in order to see more detail. If I exposed for the foreground here, my sky would have blown out to all white. Try and get off the auto setting and you can get some really fun results. 

Pictures of Rome - The Roman Forum - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

Sainte-Chappel in Paris was easily my favorite cathedral. The 13th century stained-glass windows are absolutely breath-taking and are known as some of the best in the world! The entire structure is lined with fifteen huge panels; it's like a giant light box. 

Pictures of Paris - Sainte-Chappel - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

The sun peeked through the clouds a few minutes after we walked in and completely changed the look and feel of the whole chapel. The light that flooded through brought the colors to life and the glow was amazing. I'll never forget it. Both of these photos were shot with my wide-angle Sigma lens; I didn't regret packing that one along that day. 

Pictures of Paris - Sainte-Chappel - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

One huge benefit of carrying a DSLR on a trip is for photos at night. My iPhone images of this Eiffel Tower scene below are pretty much a laughing-matter. At night or in dark settings, phone photos can get so grainy and hardly hold any detail. It gets ten times worse if you try and zoom in at night. If you missed my previous post about my favorite travel tripod, the extremely small and affordable Pedco UltraPod II, check it out! I tried wrapping my little travel tripod around the fence at the top of the Arch de Triomphe but the fence wobbles too much to get a sharp long exposure. I had to reach through the fence and hold my camera by the strap (very risky, but I just couldn't resist!!) , and set the tripod on a ledge to get a steady surface for this shot. You just can't get this result with a phone camera.

Pictures of Paris - Eiffel Tower - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

Don't get me wrong, I love having an iPhone. So let's switch gears to my thoughts on iPhone photos! It was really nice to be able to tuck my camera away and make life easier by snapping a few iPhone photos whenever I wanted. It's light, fast and easy and for simple every-day memories, and for that, it does just fine. 

Pictures of Rome - St. Peter's Basilica - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

If you've followed my blog long enough, you will already know how much I love the panorama feature on the iPhone :) 

Pictures of Rome - Walking in Rome - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos
Pictures of Rome - The Roman Forum - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

I also pair my iPhone with the app Snapseed to get better edited iPhone images. I highly recommend checking it out! Read my review of Snapseed here.

Pictures of Rome - Pictures of Paris - Tips for Taking Good Travel Photos

Well, that really is just a glimpse of what I saw while walking through the streets of Paris and Rome. Thanks for letting me get personal with this one, but I do hope I helped you get a step closer to getting better travel photos. Have a happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!