How to take the best travel photos

Going on holiday means great fun but also great responsibility… when it comes to taking photos. If you’re reading these you’re probably the kind of person that the whole family is relying on as the official photographer of the group. Or maybe you’re a first-timer looking to improve at snapping visual memories on holiday. In any case, here are some useful tips for you to succeed in making the most of your travel photography:

Do it for yourself.

If all you can think about is what your Instagram followers and workmates will say about the photo you’re taking, you need to rethink who these photos are really for. You’re on holiday, relax, take the photos you feel like with the people you want. Make them personal! In a few years, you’ll be the one looking at them and cherishing those memories.

Research your destination.

We all agree that it’s nice to go somewhere without knowing what you’re going to do step by step and let the destination unravel before your eyes. But it’s worth doing a bit of research beforehand. Get to know the history, main cultural sites and facts about customs and locals of your holiday destination – otherwise you could miss important details. Know what you’re photographing and learn a few words in the native language of your destination when asking locals for a portrait or for tips. You’ll find yourself far more inspired when you know the history of a place and more aware of what you should be looking out for when hunting for holiday snaps.

Meet the locals

Getting to know the locals should be a top priority as they might tell you where the hidden gems are.This brings us to another point we discussed above. If you learn about the history of a place, it’s much easier to communicate with its inhabitants.

Some of the best portraits you can take during a trip are those of the locals. You can either take a few street-style snapshots or go for classical portraits with people wearing traditional costumes but you always have to remember that people are the ones who bring a place to life.

Be spontaneous

Sometimes, the best photos are the less planned ones. So make sure to keep your camera at hand or to keep your phone charged, depending on which medium you’re planning on using. When photographing friends, don’t give them time to pose – you want to capture them in the moment, free of pretense or embellishment.

Learn the basics

Whether you’re using a professional camera, a pocket one or an iPhone,it’s worth getting to grips with the less glamorous side of the photography: the technical one. Familiarize yourself with the meaning of words such as shutter speed, exposure, aperture and ISO. Check out this guide from Lifehacker for your first foray into the world of manual photography. On your next holiday, try switching to manual mode and you’ll quickly find out how much difference each of the settings can make.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Have you ever found a weird mosaic cobblestone that you stop yourself from taking a photo of because you’re not sure it’s “photogenic” enough? Or maybe you’ve come across a beautiful landscape but are actually more interested in the statue in front of it? Don’t be ashamed to experiment!

Framing and composition

So far we’ve been telling you to take photos with your heart more than with your mind. But now we have to go back to basics and acknowledge the importance of… geometry.

As soon as you lay eyes on a potential subject, be it a landscape, a portrait or just general cityscape, you should start thinking about framing. This means you have to do your best to make the photo look aesthetically balanced by taking into consideration the shapes, composition and aiming for a pleasing geometry.

Do not be afraid to try more angles until you find the one you that meets your expectations.

Looking for a challenge? Try taking a photo which adheres to the golden ratio!

Learn a bit of photo manipulation

OK, so you took a photo you like, but you’re not quite happy with some details – it could be too dark outside, or the sun may have overexposed the shot. You may sometimes need to work a bit after the magic has happened. Download software and play with the settings until you achieve what you want. You can get a free trial with Photoshop, one of the most powerful and professional photo editing tools, which is also very beginner-friendly. Though it’s tempting, try not to go overboard with altering the original photo as you still want it looking natural.

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