Summer’s coming round again and soon enough our Facebook and Instagram feeds are going to be saturated with album after album of people’s boring, unimaginative and awkward holiday photos. Yawn.
I’m going to be brutally honest here, because I believe it’s time to up your photography game people. And not just for my purely selfish reasons of wanting beautiful pictures to scroll through when i’m bored at work. Bathroom selfies are kind of done now, as is hand on hip with slight head tilt. It’s time to refresh your poses, revamp your photography style and improve the quality of your photos – because honestly, you’ll much prefer looking back in years to come at the gorgeous composition of your travel photos than just another picture of you posing in a restaurant toilet.
So, how do you actually make your holiday snaps into your best curated travel content ever?
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned that not only improved the quality of my photography but also made me more observant and appreciative of the beauty of a country when exploring the places I visited on holiday.
Travel Photography Trick One: Don’t Overdo it.
I know you’ve heard the phrase quality over quantity, but I feel I need to repeat it again here. Endless photos of the same thing, or even lots of different things are just pictures for the sake of taking pictures. There’s no thought or care involved at all.
Chances are, you’re so wrapped up in taking pictures of everything that you’re actually forgetting to just be in the moment and enjoy where you are travelling.
So before you snap the shutter or open the camera app on your phone, think about what you’re photographing and take your time with it.
Photography Trick Two: Tell A Story
Continuing from trick one and thinking about what you’re photographing, one of the best tips I’ve learned is to tell a story in your photo.
I know some wise cracks amongst you might take this literally and start trolling me, but hear me out. When you’re thinking of the composition of your picture – be it a picture of an iconic statue for example, take a moment to think about what you’re trying to express with your photograph.
Do you want to emphasise the epic-ness of said iconic statue? Do you want to capture your feelings of awe at its magnificence? That’s awesome, now angle yourself to take the picture from below – making said statue tower above you and encapsulating the feelings you’re trying to evoke.
Point and shoot from the front is boring and unimaginative – enjoy the creativity of photography and have fun with angles and lighting.
Photography Trick Three: Add the human element
So you’ve visited Rome for the first time, or Ibiza, or Bangkok. Wherever you are, there are probably countless images on Google of the place you’re currently photographing that you could refer to if you don’t add a subject to your photos. By subject, I mean you. Or your travel buddy, or a local (but do ask permission first!)
Adding a human element to your pictures brings them to life and makes them more relatable for your audience (whether that be your Instagram following, parents or pet cat).
For example, here are two flat lays of a sushi lunch I had with James in Ibiza. Photo one is just the food – yeah it looks nice enough and it’s an ok photo.
But photo two, with james’ hand poised and ready to eat adds life and energy to the picture. As a viewer, you feel more involved and you subconsciously imagine yourself at the table too. It’s a subtle difference but a powerful one.
The human element again energises these pictures and brings them to life.
Photography Trick Four: Don’t pose awkwardly
If you want to take the most basic boring picture of life, then go ahead and stand with your hand on your hip in front of whatever object or scene you’re capturing.
We all have our go-to poses that make us look slimmer, younger, fitter etc. and these are ok once in a while, but it’s just not that exciting when it appears in photo after photo.
I’m laughing as I type this because I used to be so guilty of doing this myself! Now I try to mix up my poses with movement, laughter, smiles and more often that not, shots from behind.
Taking a ‘faceless’ photo is a great way of inviting your viewers into the picture more, because they can imagine themselves as the subject of the photo and seeing what you’re seeing.
This is why Murad Osmann’s ‘follow me’ photo series became such a viral hit. If you haven’t seen them, check out this photographer’s amazing gallery.
Photography Trick Five: Dress Well
I wish i’d known this when I first went travelling, because in all the beautiful places on earth I visited, I’m mainly photographed in them wearing some terrible shorts and baggy t shirts. There’s a lot to be said for travelling comfortably, but there is a lot more to be said for looking classy AF in every shot.
You’ll forget your discomfort, but pictures last a lifetime – so plan your holiday wardrobe with your new found photography tricks in mind!
A floaty dress adds a certain je ne says quoi… don’t you think?
Photography Trick Six: Create a Flat Lay For Foodie snaps
We’ve all seen the memes of bloggers stood on chairs, cameras aloft and hovering over a table of freshly prepared food.
I unashamedly do this myself and the reason is because this style of birds eye view photo, or flat lay as its now commonly known gives a whole new perspective on what you’re shooting.
Back to what I was saying previously, flat lays tell a story and are in interesting way of depicting your experience at the restaurant or cafe.
Photography Trick Seven: Where Is The Light Coming From?
I can’t believe I left this one so late in the game, but this might actually be the most important trick of them all.
A wise man once said ‘good photography is the art of capturing light’. I don’t know who said it, or if I just made that up in my head, but I’ve definitely read something along those lines somewhere and when I did all of a sudden I found a new eye for taking pictures.
Light is incredibly important when you’re wielding a camera, much like your SD card is important for storing your pictures on and blood is important for you to stay alive.
Without light, you can’t capture an image at all so when taking photos you really have to consider where the light is coming from in order to take a half decent snap.
The best times of day for light are the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. The light is soft at this time of day and the angle of the sun casts a glorious glow on buildings, people and every other such thing.
The absolute worst time of day to take pictures is at midday in bright sunlight. At this time of the day the light is harsh and there are shadows everywhere.
You also want to consider where the subject you’re taking pictures of is in relation to the sun in the sky. If the sun is behind it, your photo will come out dark. If it’s behind you facing your subject, this is ideal and will be a well-lit and composed picture.
How My Photos Started….and How I Improved
I still have a LOT to learn when it comes to good travel photos and photography in general, but I’m proud of myself for coming a long way from when I first started. Here is some of my earlier work, compared to my most recent…
So whether you’re wanting to improve your blog photography, take instagram-worthy photos of your beach holiday or after some truly memorable pictures from your travels, I hope you find these tricks I’ve picked up over the years useful! I also hope that they make your photos totally extra.
Share your pictures with me, I’d love to see them 🙂