5 Tips for Taking Frame-Worthy Travel Photos in Mexico City

Snap Mexico City right with LocalAventura's photo excursion

All images by Judit via LocalAventura

You want to remember your trip, but how can your photos properly record your experience? I’m Mei Li, and I'm an avid travel lover as well as a correspondent for LocalAventura's blog. I had the privilege of chatting with Judit, professional photographer and travel planning extraordinaire, about how to capture the best shots on your trip. Local Guide Judit creates personalized photo tours in Mexico City! After an initial phone call with the client, she sketches a basic itinerary and asks for some feedback. From there, she creates a full one, complete with descriptions of the sites you'll be visiting, all the addresses and contact info for the trip, and suggestions for restaurants, and wine and tequila tastings.

Great travel photography will not only capture the essence of your destination but also give you unforgettable images of your travels. Here are five tips from Judit to make your photos and trip even better!

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Prepare by learning some Mexican history and cultural context

Travel planning may include flights, restaurants, and logistics, but take some time to investigate the culture of the place you’re visiting! Learn about the country’s history and its way of life. Independent investigation will give you the context to enrich your experience once you’re actually there! If you’re an architecture enthusiast, research the most famous buildings or what neighborhood are known for their historic buildings. There are so many great resources available on the internet; take advantage of the information at your fingertips and immerse yourself in the country before even stepping off the plane! By starting your trip early, you’ll build up excitement while also educating yourself! Once you’ve learned about the typical tourist attractions, rely on the expertise of a local like Judit to go behind the scenes and discover non-touristy and unique sites. 

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Organization is key for your trip to Mexico City

Mexico City is home to 23 million people! With a population this dense, it's crucial to organize your trip to maximize your time in this wonderful city. A little organization beforehand can truly be a game changer. First, figure out how many hours you'll be out shooting; then, make a plan about how many sites you want to visit. Your pace is up to you! Would you rather go to a few places and fully immerse yourself, or hit five sites in one day? If you've opted for multiple destinations, give yourself time to get to each one, and make sure you calculate travel time! 

Plan your day to avoid rush hours and choose the best times for each place: if you want shots without lots of people, you'll have to plan accordingly! Peak hours in Mexico City are from 6 am to approximately 10 am, and also from 4-9 pm. 

It's also important to plan around holidays, construction projects, and protests. Protest are pre-organized; you can check a couple days before to see which ones are happening and choose to avoid the area. It's a good idea to have an initial plan, but make sure you stay flexible—that way you'll be able to capture the shots you want but leave space for spontaneity! 

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Street photography and photographing strangers

Street portrait photography can be even more interesting in a new city, but it's important to be respectful! When photographing strangers, always be polite. The common perception that Mexicans are generally friendly is true; however, it's always a good idea to be thoughtful about taking photos on the street. Before social media, things were a bit simpler. Nowadays, people can be shy and concerned about their privacy. Permission to take a photo can be conveyed through body language, or you can ask the person. Make some conversation, and take advantage of the moment to get to know the person! Explain your project, the photo you're taking, and what it's for! Engage with your subject, and the connection will not only improve your photo but also everybody's experience. A great follow up is offering a way to get in contact with them after to send them your photo! 

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Capturing the perfect MX city landscape shot

Mexico City is huge! And that means it offers a great mixture of sites to see. Before you hit the town, plan an excursion around your specific interests, be it architecture, street food, street life, mercados, portraiture or landscapes. If you want to take postcard-style photographs, investigate the best shots on photography blogs or Pinterest. With Judit's help, you can analyze the photos to figure out the best angles and hours to take the photos; it'll determine the time of day you should go and the lighting you're looking for. When shooting entire cities and towns, be prepared! Know exactly what gear you'll need, and don't forget you'll be hauling it around all day! Judit goes to each site to pre-scout; she'll verify accessibility, permissions, and when the best time is to go. 

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Safety measures: how to stay safe in CDMX

The media always blows the safety aspect out of proportion; never be afraid or frightened—it'll ruin your approach to Mexico! That doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful though. Judit would never go somewhere or take other to a place she didn't feel safe. As with all cities you have to be careful, but if you take the right safety measures, you can do it all! Here are some must-read tips:

  • Calculate your equipment! You’ll be walking a lot, so you should only take the essentials. Save carrying around four cameras for when you’re in a studio and choose a small, lightweight, and versatile camera that doesn’t attract as much attention.
  • Always keep everything in front of you. Don’t trust that it’s safe behind you; by keeping things within your view, you can be sure you’re keeping everything safe! If you’re toting around a phone or gopro, keep them in your front pocket so you can always feel it.
  • Never leave your equipment unattended! Judit has an assistant that accompanies you on your photo tour—that way, when you’re in the moment, you can truly commit to the shot without worrying about the safety of your belongings.
  • Find a way to close your pockets if you have a bag with a lot of compartments. Little things like closing the zipper will increase your safely.
  • Always bring a copy of your passport (leave the original in a safe box) and carry around only the money you'll need. Instead of leaving with five different credit cards, take one and reduce the risk!
  • Be conscious of your clothes! If they're flamboyantly designer or from an expensive brand, they'll draw unwanted attention. The same goes for flashy jewelry or showy watches. This is where your research comes in handy; use the information you've gathered to do your best to blend in with the crowd!

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LocalAventura invites you to experience Latin America through the eyes of a passionate local. By connecting you with our hand-selected local guides, you'll get the authentic and one-of-a-kind adventure you've been searching for. Find out more about the special tours they offer on their website.

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