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Posted on: Thursday, 1 November 2012

How To Take Great Vacation Photos

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Great Shot

Great Shot

Going on holiday is exciting for so many reasons, but the time just flies and, before you know it, you’re back to the routine of daily life. Taking photos of your holiday, no matter how short or close to home, is an essential part of remembering it. There are few things as disappointing as scrolling through your holiday pictures, only to find that that they didn’t come out well. You might feel that you look terrible in every single one (us humans are so predictably critical) or your landscapes may be a blur.

Here are some ways to ensure that you take stunning holiday photos and make the memories last:

  • Look your best, especially if this is a very special holiday that is sure to involve lots of photos. It is worth losing the few extra kilos or getting a tan and feeling great about your photos rather than burying your summer in Paris because you feel a little less than gorgeous, for example.
  • Don’t be afraid to go right up close to something to photograph it.
Zoom In

Zoom In

  • Browse different travel blogs and websites to get a feel for the style of photo that you like. Do you prefer to isolate an ornamental door handle? Or would you rather have sweeping landscapes? Perhaps you enjoy photographing the people that characterise a destination, rather than its countryside. Whatever you enjoy, have a look at how others accomplish it and mentally prepare yourself for these types of shots.
  • Make your main point of focus off-centre and ensure that it only occupies two-thirds of the shot.
  • Distract young ones and those who don’t enjoy being photographed so that you get them looking relaxed and entertained, rather than stiff and miserable.
  • Take plenty of photographs so that, even if there are a lot of flops, you are sure to get two or three great ones.
  • Use reflections and shadows cast by people, monuments, and so on to capture something in an interesting way.
  • Don’t use a flash indoors. Rather turn on lamps and lights for a more natural, evenly dispersed light, if necessary.
Get The Angle

Get The Angle

  • Be prepared! Charge your cameras or batteries and take along spares so that you’re not caught in the middle of an impressive mating ritual in Kruger Park without anything on which to record it.
  • Take unexpected photos of people, when they are not even aware of you or the camera. This will convey the mood far more effectively.
  • When photographing snow, be very careful that your settings don’t give the stark snow a dull effect and blue colour. Get a bit of practice beforehand to figure out what settings your camera needs to be on to accomplish good snow shots.
  • Get adventurous with a new angle every now and then. Lie beneath a monument to photograph it, for example, or take photos of the Brazilian beaches from the water, instead of from land.
  • Try not to pose too much or too often in your photos. One or two silly poses can be cute, but photos of the Vatican with your famous squinty-tongue-lolling are something you’ll regret in a few years.
Get Closer

Get Closer

  • Don’t be afraid to edit your photographs afterwards to ensure that they come out well. Use Photoshop or even some of the simpler programmes available within the Microsoft package to crop pictures, adjust the lighting, and so on. Just remember to save the originals!

Photographs make great gifts for those back home, especially family members. So, ensure that you pay attention to the quality of your shots.

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Amelia Meyer


Amelia is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for all things travel-related. She is based in Knysna, but has studied, lived and travelled further afield. She studied Film, Media and Literature at the University of Cape Town. She began her solo career in the form of Voxate Writing & Editing in 2008 and loves every minute of it. Amelia believes in silver linings, lessons learnt and the responsibility to do what’s right. When she is not writing, she can frequently be found at the local animal shelter, on the bicycle trails of the nature reserves or sampling new restaurants with her family.

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