9 Tips To Be A Good Trek Photographer

My personal  journey with photography and wilderness has been a very special one. I began taking images of the wild only to share with my friends what I was experiencing.

But these days, enamoured by photo editing softwares, people are forgetting the essence of photography. Instead, they choose to beautify their images through post production. This seriously makes me cringe.

So if you’re going on a trek with the sole purpose of photography then I wouldn’t want you to click images that look like any other image on the website.

You must want to capture well-thought-out compositions and photographs that tell a story.

I am going to share a few tips with you that will make you change the way you take images. I’ll bring them out of my personal experience.

1. My first thought is always of light. 

I almost never set out to photograph a landscape, nor do I think of my camera as a means of recording a mountain or an animal unless I absolutely need a ‘record shot’. Light, on the other hand, is always on my mind. Light can do wonderful things in the mountains. Capture it, especially during dawn and dusk.

This image shows how light has established the drama to the landscape and lit up the valley.

Near Kempty Falls, Uttarakhand. Picture by Anuja Gupta

2. Don’t photograph everything 

The most effective photos – the ones your viewers will be moved by – are the ones that communicate the value of an experience. Photos that aim to turn something into an experience simply by virtue of being photographed – they’re not so important.

For me this shot of the bird translates to the freedom of Verditer Flycatcher in its very home. The faint image of the mountain in the background adds to the surreal structure of the image.

Unknown trails near Lohajung, Uttrakhand. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

3. Use your photography skills to enrich your life

Let the desire to ‘get the shot’ propel you to new places, but don’t feel like you have to document everything along the way. When you come across an experience or a feeling worth sharing, share it.

This image gives a glimpse of the diversity in the flora of that region. Hence spell binding the viewer with the riot of colors, and contrasting landscape.

Photo Credit: Galen Rowell, Bnaff National Park


4. Being in the wilderness, will evoke a lot of emotions in you

You may strike a cord with a scenery or people, and that will make you stand in awe. You may be astonished by a rawness that you had never seen before. You have to ask yourself what is the scene conveying to you, what are the elements you need to include or exclude to convey the emotions you felt.

Soon after sunset, on the summit camp of Roopkund the wind chill was making it unbearable for the trekkers to stay out any longer.  Thus the cloud cover and the retreating trekkers made this shot look like a war zone.

Bhagwabhasa, Roopkund. Picture by Anuja Gupta

5. Don’t be scared to experiment!

Go out on days you’d usually stay in, get up early, stay out late.  Make external commitments, if it helps you stick to your plan. The least you can walk away with is knowledge and experience – not bad!

While trekking you meet many locals pacing up and down with heavy load, carrying all the necessary equipment to make camping comfortable for the trekkers. This shows how hard-working people in the mountains are. Hence this image becomes important for a photo-essay.

On the way to Juda ka talab, Kedarkantha. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

6. The desire to take a great photo pushes one to chase an experience

An experience that was valuable even when the photos didn’t turn out the way you expected.

This image was photographed while the clouds were passing across the forests of Ghaeroli Patal, Roopkund. When I stood there and looked at the view, I was reminded of many fairy-tales that I read in my childhood. I was instantly transported to my childhood.

Forest before Gharoli Patal, Roopkund. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

7. Look for scenes that make you feel something

Once you find something that touches you, use your technical and composition skills to bring that feeling to the forefront.

The sunlight leaking through the clouds felt like spotlights on the Chandratal Lake.

View from top of Chandratal Lake, Spiti. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

8. Don’t be disheartened at a bad photo

Instead, study it, looking for patterns between what your eyes saw and what your camera produced. Being able to approach a scene and understand how it will look as a photograph will open doors.

I will admit that, while shooting this image from my phone camera, I had not seen the guy jumping with joy, till I saw the image on my computer. This made the image very intriguing. So I decided to keep it.

Bhagwabhasa, Roopkund. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

9. Imagine how you want your photos to look

Use that vision to guide your work. The strength of your photos, and your commitment to creating them, will no doubt increase.

While walking on the gentle slopes of Ali Bugyal, I noticed the expanse of the meadows and how tiny the living beings were looking. I wanted to shoot the contrast in size. Interestingly the clouds in the background set a perfect stage for it. Therefore, I had already planned a shot in my head.

Ali Bugyal, Roopkund. Picture by Anuja Gupta.

I hope these tips are useful to you on your next trek.

Don’t forget to share your photos with us once you’re back 🙂

Article featured image by Deeksha Mittal.

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5 thoughts on “9 Tips To Be A Good Trek Photographer

  1. If you’re trekking in a group under trek leaders/guides, is it possible to click photographs?
    I usually get to know that the leaders keep pushing you all the time, I’m not sure if you get the required to click good photographs, as I’m sure you’d be knowing the importance of patience while clicking,

    1. Hi Varun, you do have ample time to take photographs. The team usually moves at a very average pace and not at the pace of the fastest person in the team. So if you’re fit, you even have time to go off trail, shoot some pictures and come. It’s not too hard.