Summer holidays, winter ski trips, or a year abroad, whatever the reason you are overseas, it is pretty certain that you are going to be creating some amazing memories and hopefully have some pretty fabulous stories once you are back. Other than keeping a diary to remind you what you got up to each day, it’s also pretty certain that you are going to be taking some photographs to capture the amazing memories that you are making. But there is nothing worse than getting home and realising that the photos simply don’t do the trip justice, or aren’t quite as Insta-worthy as you may have hoped. As an album design company, And Other Memories sees all sorts of holiday photos and I’ve managed to pick up some tips along the way, from these I’ve put together a guide to help you with how to get holiday photos that you love.
Know Your Camera
Whether it is your smartphone, a compact camera, or a DSLR, you have to know your camera. Even if you are using a smart phone, cameras these days come with so many settings, and to get the perfect photo you are going to need to know what does what, how to turn flash on and how to focus on the subject, as well as all the other little tricks that cameras are capable of these days. It really is worth taking the time to get to know your camera before you go on holiday, and not just reading the instruction manual but actually practising with all the different settings. For those of you that are keen on photography, I’d recommend doing a course to really get the best from your equipment – but finding the right one for you is a whole other subject matter! Whatever you do, don’t turn up on holiday not knowing your camera thinking that you’ll have the time to learn it there as this is how you miss vital shots. Or get ones that you aren’t happy with. Remember you never know what is going to happen when, so to get really good holiday photos you have to be prepared from the get go.
Once you have mastered your camera it is important to think about light! Early mornings and evenings tend to cast a much more photographic light than the harsh sun of midday, and that’s not even thinking about all the shadows and backlights caused by bright sunlight. If you want to take some scenic photos, it is definitely worth getting up early, and you will be surprised what you find happening specially in hot countries - early morning market bustles and people preparing for their days. Light is so important for ambience, it is what creates that perfect contrast of colours and shadows. I’ve done a couple of photography courses in my time and without going into the technical details, I can assure you that light is what makes a photograph – literally as well as figuratively.
Be Ready to Take the Photo.
Keep your camera on hand ready to grab at a moments notice. You never know when the perfect opportunity is going to come up, so if you are serious about getting some fantastic photos you are going to need to be ready with camera to hand, and armed with your camera knowledge so that you can quickly assess the camera situation and choose the right settings. A tip I learnt on one of the photography classes I did, was for most photos (unless you are creating a particularly arty image where the focus is important) is to use the Aperture setting of a DLSR rather than manual or automatic. This way you control the light exposure, but have the camera automatically focusing on the subject matter, a quick and easy way of taking some great shots –as long as you know your apertures!
Take lots of photos
Where possible take lots of photos. If you are taking photos of people, there is sure to be someone blinking or moving, that will ‘ruin’ the photo so it best to take as many images as you can without wearing out the sitters patience. This way you are more likely to have an image that you are happy with within the final shots. If you are photographing a landscape scene it is still a good idea to take lots of photos but have a play around with the camera settings from the ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc to see the differences they make to your image and work out which is the best for you.
Be Patient, wait for the right moment
Sometimes you just have to wait. Whether it is a child playing or the sea rolling in, to get the perfect image you have to wait for the opportune moment. This can mean having to read the moment for the perfect shot, specially if your camera is shutter is slow to release. You almost have to anticipate the moment before it happens and be prepared, pressing down that fraction of a moment before a child’s face lights up or the bird opens its wings.
Frame your images
It’s not called image composition for nothing. The best photos are carefully thought out compositions. Whether it is making sure there isn’t a pile of discarded clothes visible, to changing the angle a degree so that you fit all of the flag in, framing your picture is so important. Use lines to draw the eye in, and make sure that your landscape is straight, or that the sea is straight on the horizon. There is nothing worse than a wonky photo when it comes to framing it, or placing it in an album. It can make the whole page look off! For travel photos in particular it is also important to choose a backdrop that gives a sense of where you are whether it is the rolling hills of Tuscany or a pool at the villa, it is always good to set the scene. If you know you are going to be creating a bespoke album from your images, it can be fun to create images specifically for your personalised album. From spelling things out using shells collected from the beach, to taking a photo of the front door of every place you stay you can create a stunning album by thinking about it is advance!
Whether it is on the beach, and a load of umbrellas, a brightly painted building, or the contrast of the oranges against the green in a field of orange trees, take advantage of the colours on offer to really make your image pop. I think colour is also important because it can create a real contrast between different places which is also part of the appeal of holiday photos, the colours in them are so different from the colours you are used too at home. Colour can be used to highlight and frame and really make an image stand out so use it well.
Interact with your environment
Remember that too many photos of landscapes on their own can become quite dull if there are lots of them. In the same way too many photos of people that don’t show anything of where you were is pointless for a travel album. You want the images to reflect your trip so it is important to vary the images and make sure you capture a selection of pictures that really tell the story of the holiday. This will make for a much more fun holiday album once you are home and reminiscing!
Don’t take too many posed photos
…or if you do, make sure that they are fun and show something of where you are. Reportage style photos are the best for giving a true depiction of the place you are staying, but make sure you get people’s permission where possible before you publish images that they are the focus of.
Handy holiday photography tips/cheats
Take a photo through the lens of some polarised glassesThis can take the glare off a water based image and help to create a more professional or filtered look.
Add foreground details for a unique photo. Plants, trees or people, use something in the foreground to create a peeping through feeling that really frames or leads the eye to the main image.
Focus on the reflection or just use them to create an impactful or double image. A reflection can make the most dull subject matter so much more exciting, and can create some really fun images.
Look for unique angles
Two of my favourite photos are taken through keyholes and spyholes. One is of my husband, the silhouette of the keyhole framing his face, and the other is of my street through my front door. I love both of them because they are different and show a view that isn’t often seen. How often do you look through a keyhole at someone – never I hope!! And I certainly don’t stand at my front door looking out the spyhole at the street, I hardly even use it when there is someone at the door. Try finding your own unique view points for the images you want to take. Doing this will make your final photo album so much more intriguing and will really add a personalised element to your photo books.
Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy your trip. Don’t get so caught up in the photography that you miss the moment, as there won’t be any memories there to cherish if you spent all your time chasing photos. Plus it is rude to everyone else if you are on your phone , or hidden behind your camera all the time. So instead be ready to take the photos, but remember life is all about the moment. That said, try to get some photos that really sum up your trip. Remember you don’t have to have enough to make an album as you can always combine a few trips together to make a holiday album of various trips!
Once you are back home, take the time to go through all your photos, editing them if necessary, and getting rid of the ones you don’t like. Not only is this a good job done, but it will be really fun reliving the holiday moments and recalling all the things you enjoyed about your trip – sometimes this can be much needed therapy when hit with the reality of the daily grind once you are back. Once you have sorted through your photos, it’s then time to get some framed or make your own personalised travel album. Whether you want to do this yourself, or enlist the help of a professional such as And Other Memories, I hope that you have almost as much fun when looking through the finished product as you did on your holiday.
And Other Memories travel albums start at £300, you can find out more about how we work here.