Taking your camera on your travels and need to know how to take better holiday photos? Follow these 5 steps to take better photos on holiday and avoid a case of photo remorse when you get home.
1. You are going on holiday to enjoy yourself and relax. You are not going on holiday to spend an entire two weeks looking through a viewfinder, stressing about which of your eight lenses you are going to take out each day or spend your evenings uploading photos to two external drives and the cloud. A holiday is to be enjoyed and experienced, not seen through a viewfinder or spoilt because you missed the sunset as you couldn’t make it to the top of the hill with your 25kg of camera kit in the 30C heat. Take only a small amount of camera kit and make the most of it.
2. When you visit an interesting destination, set yourself a mini project. For example, rather than getting snap happy when you visit a market filled with local colour and character, set yourself the goal of capturing the following images – a portrait, a relationship, things happening and a photo which gives a sense of the whole place. This framework could be applied to any market, town, or even a social gathering. Remember that when you get home you won’t just look at a single image but a collection, and by having a set like this, you’ll have a collection of photos which really capture what that place was like.
3. Respect the locals. We all love capturing images of people when on holiday, in fact they can be some of the best photos. Naturally photographers tend to be more comfortable photographing strangers in different countries than they do on their own doorstep. Would you point your camera in the face of a stranger in your own street? Probably not. Would you point your camera in the face of a stranger in a different culture? More likely. Maybe it’s because we know we’ll never be seen again, or possibly the sense of exoticness makes us feel more brave (or maybe it’s the local rum), but people are still people and a simple smile and gesture towards your camera to check if it’s OK overcomes any language barriers and prevents unintentional offence.
4. Be brutal with your editing when you get home. No matter who you’re showing your holiday photos to, their patience will be tested by 300 photos of somewhere they may have no interest in. Try to separate the emotional connection you have with your holiday from your photos, and only show your best. You will lose the impact of your best images if they are are only seen at a ratio of one great shot per 35 bland photos. Of course you shouldn’t just show your super arty images, we want to see you having fun as well as your stunning compositions. But 12 photos of the same sunset? Please no. Just one will do.
5. Separate photography for the sake of creating a record, from photography to create good images. Taking photos is a bit like collecting. We have a natural instinct to collect photos to support our memory, but sometimes the memory alone is better. Rather than simply collecting images, try to create interesting photos, even of commonly photographed places. Change your angle of view, apply good compositional practices, look for good lighting and you may capture the unexpected. Try to have a reason for taking each image: ‘I want to capture the Eiffel Tower from an unusual perspective’ is a better reason to take a photo than ‘There’s the Eiffel Tower, quick take a photo to show we were here’.
And, learn how to use your camera properly before you go. We had to say that.
by Andrew Mason
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