Over the past few years GoPro has changed the game when it comes to travel photography and high quality, high resolution video.
Since I picked up my first Hero 3 in 2013 I’ve become hooked and it’s by far one of my favorite travel cameras.
Today I travel with the Hero 4 (check out my review) and I’ve taken it with me everywhere – from Chichen Itza in Mexico to Lviv, Ukraine – and it’s always with me whether I’m on public transportation, hiking through the woods or just hanging out in my apartment.
As the GoPro becomes more and more popular there are plenty of travelers that are picking up their newest travel camera and are looking for advice and tips on how to use the GoPro to get the best shots.
In this post I’m going to go over some of the best GoPro photography tips that will help you take the best photos, video and get the most out of your device.
10 Helpful GoPro Photography Tips
Don’t Just Take One Shot
One of the best GoPro photography tips I can give is to never just take a single shot. If you check out the settings on your camera you will see that you have the option for both time lapse or burst shots.
By taking more than one shot you increase your chances of getting the ideal photo that you’re looking for and you don’t have to worry about any blurry or out of frame images.
There isn’t any stabilization built into the GoPro cameras so when you’re able to look through some burst shots you can choose the best one and get rid of the others.
For this you can either use a 30-second burst or set the time lapse to take a photo every 0.5 seconds. This way you will have more than one photo to work with and it’s more likely you’ll find that• incredible shot you were looking for.
Keep an Eye on the Battery Life
Nothing is worse than going to take a photo only to find that your GoPro has run out of batteries. There are two ways that you can easily manage the battery life on your camera.
One way is to check the screen on the front every so often to see how much battery life is left. There is an indicator that will show you whether the battery is full, half full or just about to die. When it’s flashing you know that it’s time to head back and charge your GoPro.
Alternatively, you can purchase a few spare batteries and bring them with you. This way you don’t ever have to leave your GoPro behind the charge and running out of battery life will become one less thing you to worry about.
There are a few settings you can change to increase your GoPro battery life. Try not to use the Bluetooth Wi-Fi unless you really have to. It’s better to take a few extra shots than connects to the app and try to frame it perfectly using your phone.
If you’re going to be out all day exploring then try to keep the GoPro turned off when you’re not using it. However, if you are only going to be out for a few hours that it’s better to leave it on and in standby mode.
Expect about 90 minutes to 2 hours of being able to take photos and capture video on a single battery. I personally carry one extra battery with me at all times and I recommend you do the same.
Get Up Close
The wide angle of the GoPro means that the further away you are from the subject the smaller the subject will look. Whether you are trying to photograph a building or your friends it’s a good idea to get up close.
You should experiment before you leave on your trip to see how close you really need to get but you will actually be surprised with how close you can stand to what you are photographing and still be able to capture an incredible shot.
If you are just getting started then I recommend using the GoPro app with your smartphone but only until you figure it out the range you need for the ideal photo.
Even when you are taking selfies you’ll notice right away that the camera held out at arms length is still able to capture quite a bit of your surroundings.
The same goes with regular photos that you take so it’s always a good idea to get close to your subject and even closer than what would seem reasonable with a normal point-and-shoot or DSLR camera
Hold The GoPro Steady
One of the most common issues that people have with their GoPro is that the photographs and footage comes out blurry and shaky.
There are two reasons behind this.
First, as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a built in stabilization and second, the cameras are so small that even the lightest movements have an impact on what your photographs will look like.
Over time, as you get more practice, it becomes easier to keep your hand steady and prevent any blurry images.
It’s also a good idea to use both hands to hold the camera and if you are using a mount to make sure that it’s secured properly and that all the screws are tight.
Keep it steady and you will get some high quality, detailed images as a result.
If you’re noticing that your video is really wobbly then I suggest taking a look at some handheld stabilizers for a smoother and steadier shot.
Try Out Unique Angles
Unlike a point-and-shoot or DSLR you can get the GoPro into some really neat and interesting angles to capture an incredible shot.
If you are using mounts this is even easier since you can reach or lower the camera into areas where you couldn’t get anything else but a GoPro.
Related: The best GoPro for travel
Whether you are mounting it to the top of your car, the window of the plane or anywhere else you can think of it’s much easier to take multiple shots from different places and angles with your GoPro than any other camera. By taking a wide variety of photos shot from different areas you are able to tell a better story and capture more of your adventure.
It’s also a lot more interactive and fun to use different mounts to capture photographs from different angles and adds a new dimension to your traveling experience.
Practice Makes Perfect
The lack of a viewfinder on the back of the GoPro means it’s hard to review your photos without uploading them to your computer or using the smartphone app.
Since I hate using the app I have just continued to hone my skills over years of practice using the camera rather than always having to check back or worry about my shot.
Over time you will become more skilled at capturing the ideal shot that you won’t have to worry about using the app or how your images will turn out once you get back home.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to take more than one photo, using the burst mode or time lapse setting, so that if one of your shots is ruined or shaky then it’s likely that one of the others won’t be. Taking time-lapses is a lot of fun as well.
Even if you’re not traveling just try taking the GoPro out around your neighborhood and test out different angles and vantage points to see how the images turn out. That way once you leave on your trip you will be able to take incredible shots
Use A Tether
Try to avoid holding the GoPro in just your hands without any sort of mount or attachment.
The camera is so small, light and pretty expensive so dropping it or forgetting it somewhere can really put a damper on your trip.
A wrist strap is a must for when you’re walking around a new city and its a good idea to use a tether to attach the camera to your mounts so that if it falls off you don’t have to worry about losing it forever.
I always travel with my GoPro attached to a travel tripod because it helps me get a steadier photo and it has a bit of size to the camera so I am less likely to leave it behind or drop it.
If you are doing some adventure sports like snorkeling, swimming or anything that doesn’t involve walking around the city that it’s definitely a good idea to keep it attached to yourself so you never have to worry about losing it.
Another one of the best GoPro photography tips I can give is to always try to use a mount with your camera. There are so many different mounts available that you will definitely be able to find one that you prefer using and each of them, when used correctly, can definitely enhance the quality of photographs you take.
For example the three arm mount can be used as a travel tripod, selfie stick and even as a manual stabilizer or handheld grip mount for the camera.
The suction cup mount is great for sticking to flat surfaces and grabbing unique photographs or interesting time lapses.
Regardless of the mount you use they all have a certain purpose that will definitely enhance your photos and I recommend traveling with at least two or three different mounts that are versatile and useful for the situations and scenarios you will be traveling in.
Watch Out For Fog
A great way to ruin an otherwise perfect picture is to let your GoPro get all foggy and not do anything about it. There are these inserts that you can buy the claim to make sure that no fog builds up but there is an easier way to keep the inside of your GoPro case fog free.
The reason that fog builds up in the first place is because the camera itself gets quite hot and if the temperature outside of the case is different than moisture will start to accumulate.
When you’re walking around on foot it is a good idea to use the case attachment that has the open, ventilated back piece. This provides enough airflow around the camera itself so that it doesn’t get too warm and cause any moisture to build up.
If it’s raining or you are using your camera in wet situations, like snorkelling or swimming, then of course you will want to use the closed back piece. To prevent fog in this situation simply add a little piece of tissue paper, paper towel or even a rice grain to the camera case. This will prevent any fogging and allow you to keep taking great shots.
Edit Your Photos
Sometimes the GoPro will capture a good shot but it will be too dark, too overexposed or not as brightly colored as you had hoped. A way you can remedy this is to edit the photos after you have taken them.
I personally use Lightroom for all my photo editing but the GoPro Studio app is a good editing program as well.
This is another area where you’ll have to practice to improve your skills but over time it will become easier and the edited photos will look a lot better than if you just uploaded or shared them straight from the camera.
Try to keep some of these GoPro photography tips in mind before heading out on your next adventure. That way you’ll be able to capture incredible photos of your trip and impress your friends and family with your photographic skill.
It’s always a good idea to get as much practice as you can so any time you have the chance to take the GoPro and go out, have fun and grab some shots!