If you’re off on your hols, then you’ll almost certainly be taking a camera along in the hope of capturing the best bits of your vacation. And while there’s no doubting that simple shots of the family enjoying themselves around the pool or on the beach have their time and place, you’ll need to get a little more creative in order to bring a more interesting set of photos home with you.
With that in mind, we’ve listed eight simple tips below. Follow our advice and you’ll come back with a set of photos you’ll definitely want to share.
Tip 1: Remember the ‘Rule of Thirds’
This basic compositional rule is one of the easiest ways to make your photos look more interesting.
Simply put, it works on the principle that an image will look more dynamic if the main subject you’re photographing is placed slightly to one side, rather than just smack-bang on the middle of the frame.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, however if you’re trying to frame a person against an interesting background, then adhere to the rule and you’ll end up with a much more balanced image.
Tip 2: Look for an angle
The natural instinct for those who are new to photography is simply to hold a camera out in front of them and try to keep the horizon as straight as possible. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you’ll get much more interesting photos if you try and mix your angles up a bit. For example if photographing a statue, try standing underneath it, and working the angle so that it’s framed against a clear blue sky.
Tip 3: Use the sun wisely
If your holiday destination guarantees wall-to-wall sunshine then make the most of it, but use the sun’s light wisely.
As a general rule using your camera in the midday sun is the worst time to shoot as the strong overhead sun can result in images with washed-out backgrounds and harsh shadows. It might not always be possible but aim to take the majority of your shots in either the early morning or the late evening when the sun is lower, the light is less harsh and the shadows are longer.
For landscape shots the sweetest time of all is what photographers called the ‘golden hour’, which falls about an hour before the sun sets.
Tip 4: Create unique portrait opportunities
If you’re holidaying in a part of the world with a distinct culture then aim to capture it on camera. Often this will involve photographing local people as they go about their daily business.
Good manners dictate that you should always seek their permission first, don’t be scared of asking. Just be friendly and polite, and strike up a bit of a rapport.
Sometimes you might be told ‘no’ or asked for money, but on many other occasions you’ll be rewarded with an open invitation to take a unique portrait. Create as many of these opportunities as you can and make the most of them.
Tip 5: Capture the Small Details
While there’s always a time and a place for capturing wide-open landscapes and filling the frame with historical buildings, look for small details too. Whether it’s an interesting flower or a quirky trinket inside a shop, capturing the small details you might have ignored can create a stunning image.
Tip 6: Get Abstract
Don’t be frightened to take photographs that eschew people and buildings in favour of simple textures, patterns and even abstract shapes. These can often be the most interesting pictures of all, and are guaranteed to be a talking point when you show off your holiday snaps to friends and family.
Tip 7: Take a Tripod
A tripod will greatly enhance your ability to take fab photos, especially in low light when you’ll need to keep the shutter open for longer.
It doesn’t have to be big and heavy either as plenty of specialist manufacturers make lightweight tripods designed specially for travelling with – the Manfrotto Befree range is particularly good. If you don’t have the space for a full-sized tripod then consider taking a miniature one instead, for example a Joby Gorillapod.
Tip 8: Use Filters
Compact cameras and smartphones often include built-in filters applied after the photograph has been taken, which are worth experimenting with.
If you own a DSLR or compact system camera then having a set of filters in your bag will greatly enhance your ability to take dramatic images. A UV filter is the most essential, as not only will it help to reduce glare, it’ll also protect the front of your lens. A polarizer is also useful as it will reduce water-based reflections and boost the overall vibrancy of your images. Lastly, a light-blocking Neutral Density (ND) filter will allow you to use slower shutter speeds in bright light, which is useful if you want to add motion blur to moving subjects like rivers or clouds.
You can also use ND filters to take extra-long exposures of busy tourist locations, where the extended open-shutter time will magically remove the crowds of people – obviously you’ll need to use a tripod for this though!