A quick guide to travel photography (and an amazing deal on Olympus cameras)

Dress: Free People (from last year). Sandals: Teva. Camera: Olympus E-PL9. Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell  using the E-M10 MKII and the 45mm lens.

This post is in partnership with Olympus cameras, which we use for all our blog photography.

Let me start with a disclaimer: we are no photography ‘experts’, we are self taught creatives. I have been a fashion editor working with professional photographers for years, so I know a thing about light, aperture and framing a shot. Chris is a director and enjoys learning about light and cameras, and knows more about the editing side of things. But it wasn’t until we started shooting with Olympus cameras that our interest in photography really grew. We have been shooting with the PEN E-PL8 for the last few years and Chris has been using the E-M10 MK11 for the last few months, and all of our city guides have been shot with Olympus. It’s safe to say we’re fans.

The cameras are easy to use, take great effortless imagery, look good and aren’t crazily big to lug around. And that’s my main criteria.

I thought I’d share a few tips on how we create travel (and general blog) photography and if you were thinking about investing in a camera, I have teamed up with Olympus to offer a crazy, exclusive discount (keep scrolling!). You’re welcome.

This was shot using the kit lens

1. Pick your timings

It’s all very easy to just shoot constantly all day long, but we find that generally we just end up with way too many photos to edit and actually, the light in the morning and late afternoon (going into early evening in the summer) are the best for shoots. Personally, as I get older, I find direct sunlight (especially in the peak daylight hours) casts a few too many shadows and that golden hour of around 6-7pm creates a preferred glowy look without being too harsh.

And perhaps more importantly: once you decide on the hours that you shoot, it really allows you to relax and enjoy the trip a bit more. We like to shoot early, then enjoy a long lunch. And once we made the decision not to attempt to shoot every meal we ate or restaurant we went to, we knew that past 7pm we could put down our cameras and enjoy our food without the anxiety of missing an opportunity.

Photographed using 45mm lens

2. It’s okay to use this camera on auto

A few years ago, Chris and I took a course in Beginners Photography and learnt how to use our camera a bit more – we learnt about aperture, ISO, shutter speed and exposure and can work our way through the settings on the camera.

But the great thing about this camera is that it works wonderfully on Auto, too. I flitter between shooting on Auto mode and then on setting A (where I just control the aperture and the camera automatically adjusts shutter speed) for my Instagram.

If you were interested in learning more about photography with the Olympus PEN range, then check out Julia from StyloNylon, who really knows her stuff.

3. It’s super easy to change lenses

I never thought I’d be one of ‘those’ people carrying around spare lenses BUT the more we have used this camera, the more I understand the benefit of different lenses. For Instagram, I love using the zoom lens – the kit lens that comes with the camera, it shoots a punchy, flatter image with great details. But if we’re shooting street style with distance in the background, then I love the 45mm prime lens – you have to stand a bit further back to get the shot but it automatically creates that shallow depth of field ‘bokeh’ in the background (‘bokeh’ is fancy camera talk for a blurry background). All of the lenses are interchangeable with all Olympus cameras, too.

And it takes about 5 seconds to change lenses (take it from me, we’ve done it a LOT).

These were both shot using the 45mm lens

4. Invest in a camera which works for you

I need a camera which works ‘on the go’, something which helps my workload and improves it at the same time. For me, I’m all about the WI-FI mode where I can send images directly to my phone (even on the tube!) for editing. This camera can also shoot in square mode (although I’d recommend 4×3 for a better Instagram frame), you can use your phone as a remote and the touchscreen can also flip out to take selfies and easy overhead shots, as well as fit inside my bag easily. For me, that’s the essentials covered.

5. Don’t delete 

Chris added this tip in – he suggested not to delete any photos you have taken until you have looked at them later, after a bit of time. Sometimes, when you’re shooting, you’re so ‘in it’ that you can’t look at it objectively – often I think something isn’t working and then when I load the images on a computer screen I see a new beauty to it, and often end up using the shot I initially hated!

It’s also a good idea to keep shooting after the pose…often, the incidental, candid shots are my favourite moments. Even with my eyes closed!

6. If in doubt, shoot darker than you need.

This advice is especially if you are editing your images afterwards (I use VSCO or Snapseed on my phone and Chris uses Lightroom to edit on his computer), as it is much easier to bring out all the details of an image and then lighten it if you shoot it dark. If the image is bleached out or overexposed to begin with, you won’t be able to get a lot of the elements back.

I hope that has been useful! Every year we use these cameras we think we improve and enjoy taking photos more and more, particularly as a family.

So onto the good bit:

Olympus have come to me with an exciting (limited time) offer: if you use the code FRUGAL20 on The Frugality x Olympus site you can get a discount on any of these cameras I have mentioned.

So the E-PL8 works out as £320 for the camera and kit lens. This is the camera I’ve been using for the last few years and it is excellent, a great entry point to these cameras.

The E-PL9 is the newest version with the latest WI-FI and Bluetooth technology and comes to £403.20 with the kit lens.

The EM-10 MK11 is the one Chris uses, and it has a viewfinder as well as a touch screen (all these cameras have WI-FI). This works out as  £367..

Find more info on the site here. The offer ends on 5th July 2019. However, my discount code of 20% off lasts until 31st March 2020.

The EM-10 MK11 with the viewfinder. This was photographed using the E-PL9 and the 45mm lens.

So if you were thinking of investing in a great camera, I hope this helps you on your way. Honestly, it was the best investment we ever made for this site and has allowed us to enjoy photography so much more.

This post was in collaboration with Olympus, who helped made this exclusive offer possible.

13 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this discount, and all the tips. Have been looking at cameras for a while and this is the push I need, and a brilliant discount. I really appreciate it when bloggers and influencers pay it forward (so to speak) with their sponsored posts and gifts into discounts for their followers, everyone wins then!

  2. Hey, thanks for the awesome tips and the discount code!

    I just wanted to ask you how do you find the video feature of the EM-10 MK11. Do you shoot your videos with it? Also do you find that the quality of the photos is better than the latest iPhone? Thank you!!!

  3. What a fab deal, I almost wish I didn’t have my EPL-7 and 45mm lens so I could take advantage! I was so impressed with the lenses, and can second learning a whole lot from Stylonylon! Quick question… do you shoot in JPEG or RAW? I used to shoot RAW but accidentally had it on JPEG for the last few outings and haven’t really noticed too much disadvantage come editing time… 🤔

    1. I know – I paid full price for my E-PL8! I always like to shoot jpeg to send it to my camera easily – but Chris likes to shoot RAW as it’s better for editing, as you can still access the original image etc etc (I don’t know much myself!) x

  4. Eakkkkk!!! Just used your code to buy the middle option, I’ve wanted an Olympus Pen for years and finally have one!!! Perfect timing of some pennies from my grandpa and your code – so thank you!!!

  5. Absolutely love this post Alex!
    I bought that camera about 2 years ago but have barely taken it out of the box as don’t really know how to use it…
    Would be really helpful to see which lenses were used for each photo in this post?
    I adore your blog, so happy you are still blogging and not moved to IG full time like many others!

    Anneli xx
    @anneli_ldn

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