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How to Take the Perfect Holiday Photos

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Photographs are probably the most important way of nurturing holiday memories. We all periodically go through our holiday photos with our families and friends, they decorate our home’s walls, and they even get passed on from generation to generation.

That’s why the quality of holiday photos is very important. But the fact that today professional-grade photography equipment is more available than ever, and that almost everyone has a decent quality camera on their phones doesn’t automatically mean that we’re bound to take good photos. Creating stunning images that do justice to the wonderful places you’ve visited takes some knowledge and practice. The good news is that the basic rules of photography and composition are quite easy to learn and remember.

What to do to take the Best Holiday Photos

Here is some obvious and not so obvious advice on taking high-quality holiday photos you’ll be pleased with.

Get to know your equipment – before hitting the road

Getting a new camera just prior to going on a journey without a thorough study of its features and possibilities is not a very good idea. Even if the quality is substantially better, if you’re in this situation, it is better to use an old camera you’re familiar with, or your phone – anything you’ve mastered well and are really comfortable with. Or ideally, take enough time before the holiday to test your camera in familiar surroundings. Using the new device in a wrong manner can result in disappointment, and it is not a good option when you’re looking to capture a unique and irreproducible experience.

Learn the basic things about photography composition

Artistic composition is what decides how striking your image will be. Although playing around with composition is a complex art, the basic rules are easy to master. Do some research on the rule of thirds, leading lines, depth of field, and framing and cropping. And in general, always try to keep it simple.

rule of thirds

When posing for a photo, always be careful about any straight lines directly behind you. There are too many photos of people with towers seemingly directly sticking out of their heads.

Shoot mostly in the morning and in the afternoon

The type of light you get in the morning or in the afternoon – the one coming in sideways, is the absolute best for taking almost any type of photo. Why? Because you can adjust your position to change the angle of the light you’re capturing on the photo. Also, you can play with long shadows and use them as an important element of your atmosphere, and the temperature (colour) of the light might also play an important role in creating magic. Sideway light gives a much truer impression of your subjects than the blunt noon (or artificial) light coming directly from above.

Ask people to photograph them

Having a collection of sights, sceneries and monuments is nice, but it might be a bit boring if you don’t add a human dimension to it, or if you capture only yourself and your family. Photographing locals or any interesting people you meet on the way can yield a very pleasing result when it comes to making your holiday gallery more interesting. And you might be surprised how glad many of them will be to pose for a portrait if you politely ask them to do so. This is especially true in popular destinations where they’re used to people shooting with their cameras all the time.

Asking for permission to take a photo is a much better (and safer!) option for getting stunning portrays than shooting in secrecy

What NOT to do if you want to have the Best Holiday Photos

As there are certain things you should strive for when taking holiday photos, there are some you should avoid.

Avoid shooting at noon

Although “shooting at noon” might work very well for western outlaws, it doesn’t work as well for photographers. Avoid shooting when the sun is at, or very near its zenith. This especially goes if the weather is not-a-cloud-in-the-sky type of sunny. The light that shines directly from above casts unsightly shadows on objects and pushes contrasts way above the desired level.

If it’s a uniquely personal event, don’t risk it with an amateur approach

If you’re having a really special event going on your holiday – especially if we are talking about a wedding, it would probably be wise to secure a professional photographer, and turn to those like Infokus, to capture all the most glorious moments in a trained and secure way. Many things can go wrong if you “hire” members of your family or friends to do this important task – from getting the light and the angles wrong to losing a memory card. And you absolutely wouldn’t want any of that to happen on your special day.

Don’t Take Too Many Selfies

Taking selfies is practical for travelling – instead of asking strangers to handle your phone so your entire travel crew can be featured in a photo, you can just put it on a selfie stick and handle it yourself. But we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the selfie mindset, the need to always have yourself in the photo, with the main motive featured in the background. This behaviour has become almost the norm, but the fact is that it’s killing fine, exciting photography.

If nothing else, just imagine how bored your grandchildren will be one day when you start showing your pictures. “This is me in front of the Eifel Tower… And this is me with the Buckingham Palace behind me… And here is me again…”.

The secret to having great holiday photos is finding a balance: between being discrete and prying; between capturing reality and aiming for surrealism; between following composition rules and breaking them. A great photo is always on the edge of things. That’s why photography itself is so compelling, and unique photo opportunities on holidays add an even more exciting element to the picture, pun intended.

Leslie writes about lifestyle and travel on his blog.