I was asked recently by my friend Gemma if I’d mind sharing a few tips on capturing the best holiday snaps for an article in the Huffington Post. This made me realise it would probably be useful to share a blog post covering these tips for better holiday photos, for those of you off on honeymoon after your wedding.
The problem is, it’s almost impossible to package up photography tips into just a couple of paragraphs. But rather than drilling down into the depths of f stops, apertures and shutter speeds, this post is more generalised, giving advice to those of you wishing to improve your holiday photos, without the detail I offer with my one to one photography courses.
Whether you’re a compact camera owner, a keen amateur with a DSLR, or grabbing snaps on a camera phone these few tips should help improve your photography and get you thinking the next time you’re out taking photos.
1) The best camera is the one you have with you
Travel light if you can. Lugging camera kit around is hard work and you’re meant to be on holiday. The old adage, the best camera is the one you have with you is definitely true. I use my iphone for snaps on the move (like this taken running along the SW Coastal Path in April this year). There’s no way I’d take a Digital SLR on a run, but I wanted to record the route taken along the headland from St Agnes to Perranporth.
2) Be prepared
Remember the famous Scout motto ‘Be Prepared’. Not only should you have charged your batteries and have plenty of space on your memory card, but also have the camera at hand for those unforeseen moments. Keep the camera switched on, lens cap off, settings ready to shoot, and be prepared to react quickly if a photo presents itself. If you’re a DSLR owner, don’t nanny your camera, putting it away in it’s padded carry case every few minutes. A little sea spray, or sand isn’t going to cripple your latest Mega Pixel machine….but missing out on some lifetime memories may!
3) Documentary photography – Tell the story with photos
Vary your perspective (look up, look down, get low, stand tall) and also your subject matter. Include family members, but also tell a story of the trip with other elements from the day. Think beginning, middle and end. Look out for details that will compliment your holiday photos. This way, if you are going to make a holiday photo book upon your return, you’ll have a great variety of content. I used this photo to set the scene for our holiday in Tuscany, Italy.
4) Take advantage of the golden hour
Taking holiday photos during the middle of the day in harsh (direct) sunlight makes producing great results very difficult. Try to take photos earlier in the day, or take advantage of the golden hour where the evening light around sunset makes for wonderful photography.
5) Quality NOT quantity
You were thinking my tips for better holiday photos would only apply when on holiday right? Well, wrong.
To produce the best photos, 50% more effort is still needed. After your holiday, set time aside to edit (or ‘cull’ as I like to call it) your photos, removing the out of focus one(s), closed eyes, over exposed shots etc. Be harsh, and only keep the best. You can tell a story of your holiday in 36 frames, no one needs to see 200 shots just because you have a digital camera and it’s ‘free’ to take photos.
A little after care in post production using either Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom can then work wonders for your photos. Straightening diagonal horizons or tidying up sloppy compositions will improve the shots further still.
This final effort will pay dividends in showing off only the best of your images, and leaving your friends wondering how you suddenly became the latest David Bailey!
Now enjoy your holiday and consider these five tips for better holiday photos, but most of all have fun with photography. And no matter how keen you are, sometimes step away from the camera and just enjoy the moment for what it is.
Occasionally in life, it’s beautiful to be part of the present and not worry about the future.