Updated: Feb 23
Looking back at your vacation pics is the best way to reminisce about what an awesome time in your life this trip represented. However, not everyone can take a good pic and more often than not, you get home and wish you had taken better effort with the camera to capture the moment properly.
This guide will help you discover some simple ways to improve your images and make all your friends jealous. There are very simple techniques you can use to improve your photography however I will start with a very important rule. Do NOT experience your adventure solely through the back of your camera!
It is important that you focus on having a great time and not on getting a photo of EVERYTHING you see.
Pick A Style
When on a trip its tempting to photograph everything but this just leads to memory cards full of images that you’ll never remember what or where you took them. Try coming up with a style or theme for your trip.
Some good examples:
Focus on the small details or large details (landscapes/cityscapes)
Come up with a list of five images to capture everywhere.
Focus on a single subject (Food, doorways, view from a window)
Don’t fall into the – ‘Everyones taking a photo, I should as well’
De-clutter Your Photos
When taking a photo try and think like someone that will be viewing this image without having been there and ask yourself these simple questions.
Is the subject of the photo clear?
Is there distracting objects/people in the shot? – if at a tourist site, look for a way to get above the crowd or wait for it to clear.
Is there a better location/angle/spot to take this photo from? The entrance or middle of a walk way is rarely the best photo location. Before pulling out your camera, scope it out.
Taking your time is important. One thing you’ll notice is that professionals seems to spend more time looking and less time shooting. This is because they’re waiting and observing.
Holding Your Camera
While point and shoot (P&S) cameras are wonderful and small they do raise a problem, how to hold them. Large SLR cameras are deliberately heavy because it makes stabilising them while hand holding easier.
For small point and shoot cameras there are a few ways to hold them that will reduce those ‘shakey shots’.
Always use two hands & Lock your elbows by your side.
Overcome shaky night shots by using a wall or post to rest your camera on, or better still get yourself a mini tripod.
For ‘Capturing the lights’ at Eiffel Tower or Sagrada Familia use a jacket or bag as a resting spot and then turn on your Timer so you can set it up and then let go – eliminating shake. Most cameras will have a 2 sec timer, this is what it's for!
While Facebook allows you to upload 200 billion photos, you shouldn’t. Take 10 mins to go through and delete double ups, blurry shots, and generally cull the millions of photos down to around 50.
Doing this will:
Make you pick the best shots
Make your friends think you are awesome – but also means when you look back at the end of your trip, you’ll have the best photos of your vacation without the horrible ones you need to flick past.
Be brutal and delete any that don’t really capture what you wanted.
In the End:
Photos are for you, don’t worry about what others say.
If you upload less it makes it easier to add comments & tags and more likely that your friends will look at them. No one wants to see your album of 500 photos of the Eiffel tower. No one!
Try and make sure they flow in a chronological order.
If using filters on your photos be consistent (Stick with one)
Like many art forms, photography tends to work out better if you enjoy doing it. If you find that taking photos is a drag on your trip, it's best to stop. A few mistakes I’ve seen that ruin photography for people.
Carrying every accessory that came with your camera. Pick one lens (for SLRs) and stick with it. (my personal preference is 50mm prime)
Taking/Using a tripod. Unless you are a hard core photographer leave the tripod at home. It’s a pain to carry with you and most tourist locations don’t allow them anymore. If you must have one, get a mini one that's easy to pack away.
You don’t have to be in every shot.
Photographing your holiday should be fun, it should be a process that ensures that you have memories of your time in foreign lands. In the end make sure you walk away from you travels with memories not just photos.
It’s ok to take shots, but done live through the back of your camera, every so often, stop, put away the camera and just look with your eyes.
Glenn 'Coco' Kelly is part traveller/blogger/awesome video maker (he's responsible for our feature video) who lives in London and enjoys telling a story or two. Go and check out more of his stuff on his website glennkelly.com.au