Sam Horine:Travel Photography Tips and Tricks

How do you capture the magical feeling of traveling to a new city for the first time?

Heck if we know! So … We found someone who does.

Sam Horine shoots cityscapes so stunning a scroll through his Instagram feed feels like a trip around a whole new world.

We wanted to know just how he captures the cities he visits so very well, so we asked him … and he told us!

Learn to Shoot Cityscapes Like a Pro (Sam Horine Specifically)

Who is Sam?

Sam Horine is a multi-talented photographer and educator with an eye for everything from portraits to food photography.

What really caught our eye were his amazing cityscapes. From LA to Istanbul and of course his home New York City, Sam’s photos show more than just collections of buildings. He captures their personality and their pulse.

So we tracked him down to ask just how he does it.

Origin Story

Q: What was the first city that made you want to show it off through photos?

A: I remember going to Paris when I was 16 or 17, taking along an old film camera and shooting a lot of the stuff I saw, the streets, the buildings, the people. Back then I had very little experience operating the camera, much less knowing what I would get when I got the film back – so when I finally got the photos back a few weeks after my trip it was like, oh hey, this place looks pretty great.

New York, New York

Q: How many photos do you shoot on an average day in your hometown NYC? How many of those make it onto your blog or Instagram account?

A: It all depends. I’m a pretty visually focused person, so I tend to take a lot of photos throughout the day. Sometimes they’re just snapchats of small moments and inside jokes for friends – though if I’m not too busy I try and make a little time to shoot each day. Even if that’s just taking a break and walking around the block a couple times.

Game Plan

Q: How much of the final product have you envisioned/planned out before you head out to shoot?

A: If I’m just walking around, I try to have a good idea of what I want to shoot before I head out – even if that’s super rudimentary, like I want to shoot portraits today. But sometimes you just never know and you luck out, hitting a great moment. If it’s an assignment then that stuff is def planned out to a T.

Step by Step

Q: Can you describe your shooting process in 5 steps (more or less)? Give us an idea of what you’re thinking start to finish.

A: Step 1 – Pick a spot.
Step 2 – Wait for the right lighting or come back later and start over at step 1.
Step 3 – Find something that interests me – a pattern, a color, a moment, movement, people.
Step 4 – try and find a unique angle or spin and shoot.
Step 5 – Edit and post.

Best Apps

Q: Your Instagram is brimming with amazing shots. What are you favorite photo apps?

A: Snapseed and VSCO are both go to editing apps for me – in terms of apps that change photos.

I also really like Slow Shutter (long exposure) , Lapse It (time lapses), Average Cam Pro (composite shots), Cortex Cam (low light) and Skrwt (straightening).

Tools of the Trade

Q: What must have photo tools do you keep in your pockets (or bag or around your neck) as you walk around town?

A: I try and keep it pretty simple. Lately I’ve been shooting a lot with the Canon 5dmk3 and the 24-70 f/2.8L v2 lens though I also like the 16-35mm f/2.8 v2 as well as my iphone 5s.

I usually keep a Mophie battery pack with me as well as a small Gorillapod style tripod and a wide angle lens for the phone though more often than not I try and keep it as simple as possible and shoot with the native camera while mixing in a few apps.

Night Shoot Tips

Q: You’re not afraid of a night shoot. What are some of your tricks for snapping a skyline after dark?

A: A tripod is always your friend at night. It really opens up what you can do with timing and exposure. In a pinch I’ve been known to set cameras on ledges or against windows to keep them steady … be sure and hold on to the strap if that’s the case.

One other trick is to set the self timer to on so that there’s less chance of camera shake.

Fave Metropolis

Q: What is your favorite city you’ve ever photographed?

A: It’s hard to pick just one, each city is different for its own reasons … LA has epic highways, NYC has a great skyline, Jerusalem is bustling, Seoul is brand new, Paris has the light, Delhi has the age.


Q: Who are a few of your favorite photographers? Any must-follow Instagrammers we should know about?

A: Like cities, it’s hard to pick a favorite but a few in no particular order would be:
@hirozzz – He’s constantly traveling and shooting amazing places all over the world but based in Japan.
@laurenlemon – Lots of great people photos, based in LA but living in Europe for the summer.
@_gabrielflores – NYC based, great attention to detail and incredibly clean shots.
@samalive – young guy who was based in nyc but is moving to taiwan soon – great eye for cities.