The best thing about taking photos when you’re travelling is that you have the time and the freedom to experiment and get great shots. With a little bit of effort, you can make your photos a bit more special than your average tourist shot.
1. Embrace the light
Good photography relies on good lighting. When the sun is high in the sky is when you get the most unflattering light for taking photos. So always avoid 12noon – 3pm if you want to take really good photos. The quality of light will create challenges that amateur photographers will struggle with. When you’re on holiday, you generally have the time and the freedom to spend time watching sunsets and sunrises too. This is the perfect time to head out with your camera and capture the local scenery. The first hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset is called ‘the golden hour’ (or sometimes ‘the magic hour’) by photographers and this is because the quality of light is perfect for creating beautiful images. The light is soft and diffused and adds warmth to the photo and you avoid the problems associated with shooting at midday – harsh light and too much contrast between the light and dark areas of the photo.
2. Engage with the locals
If you want to capture images of people, first you’ll need to check on the customs of the country you’re in – you don’t want to offend people or break any laws. Once you’ve checked that and you’re good to go, I would suggest learning a couple of words in the local language or dialect so that when you approach them, you can start off in their language. It shows you respect them and their customs and that you care. Continue to try communicating with them and show them your camera, explaining you would like to take some photos of them. If they say no, then of course, leave with a smile on your face. No hard feelings. Sometimes it’s a number’s game and you need to ask a lot of people before someone says yes. When they say yes, they may start posing for the camera. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want un-posed, natural looking shots, so just keep on shooting and eventually you’ll get the shot you need.
3. Explore the hidden gems
If you’re ready to up your game and get better shots than your average tourist, I would suggest finding a different angle. Get down low, or get high up above and get a different perspective from your fellow snappers. I promise it works a treat. You can get some really interesting shots just from changing your viewpoint. Look around the area and see if there are any hidden gems that no one else has spotted. Another way of upping your game is to head off the beaten track away from the usual tourist areas and find the hidden gems. Always put your personal safety first though!
The beauty of digital cameras is that you can now take literally hundreds of photos at no cost and this gives you the freedom to really experiment and play around. There are many ways to experiment. You could:
• Hold a glass in the corner of the shot to create a cool blurring effect
• Shoot from the hip (this is good when there are lots of people around and you don’t want them to know you’re taking photos of them)
• Use a slow shutter speed
• Use the rule of thirds (this is when instead of placing the subject bang in the middle of the shot, you place it along the invisible line that would make up a third of the image either horizontally or vertically either side)
• Pan the camera
• Get really close to your subject or back away and focus on it while crouching behind something, for example to change up your perspective again
5. Use your mobile phone
I’m a big fan of mobile photography after all your mobile phone is the camera that you always have on you. And there is a whole movement devoted to it. Mobile phones have great cameras on them these days and as long as you follow these key tips, you’ll be fine.
• Stay outdoors – for good quality of light. Photos taken indoors in poor light tend to be fuzzy and low quality because more light is needed.
• Keep the lens zoomed out the whole time. When you zoom in, again you lose quality.
• Keep your hand steady to avoid camera shake and blur. Holding your phone close to your body rather than high up in the air like tourists do it, will really help. Use your body as a tripod.