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Tips for taking the perfect travel snapshots

If there is one item that is representative of the typical tourist – it’s the camera. And for good reason. Apart from the odd tacky souvenir, photographs are the main memento you take away from your holiday. You put them in photo albums, show your wider family the slideshow, and now you can share with hundreds of your friends on Facebook. It goes without saying then, that your photos have to be good. Follow our top tips, and you will be a great travel photographer in no time:

Learn how to use your camera before you go

If you have splashed out on a new camera, do yourself a favour and get to grips with it before your trip away. No one wants to miss the key moments of their family holiday while trying to figure out the aperture settings. Learn how to use your camera and you can take your shot quickly then continue to enjoy the rest of your sightseeing.

Compose your photograph right

It might be tempting for beginner photographers to slap your subject matter right in the middle of your photograph – but in reality these make for boring images. Instead, consider the rule of thirds, where you place your key points in the photograph along the horizontal, or vertical thirds of the image, like so:

Rule of Thirds

Of course, the rule of thirds isn’t the only way to compose a great picture. If you’re keen, read up on Digital Camera World’s composition tips for some more ways to put together a great photograph.

Use natural light

Sunlight

There are some photography purists out there who state you should never use a flash. While we wouldn’t go to that extreme, it has to be said that the washed out look caused by your flash rarely looks good in your holiday slideshow. Instead, consider harnessing natural sunlight. Let’s face it, if you are going on a sunny beach holiday there will be plenty of it around!

The best light can be found in the morning, so fight to get out of bed early and make the best of it. Not only will your pictures look great, you’ll be able to take advantage of the location before the herd of tourists make it crowded later in the day.

However, we know that not everyone likes to get up at the crack of dawn on their holiday. If that’s the case for you, then try to take shots in the late afternoon, just before the sun goes down. Also known as “the magic hour”, this is the time of day where everything is bathed in a beautiful golden glow – making it perfect for taking nice snapshots.

Try something a little different

Eric Schnider Eiffel Tower

When visiting famous monuments it can be tempting to go for the same shot that everyone goes for, but you can get those pictures pretty much anywhere. This is your holiday, so take pictures of the monument using your own ideas. How about putting the camera near the ground for a dramatic upward angle? Or climbing the monument for a view of the streets below? Or getting your loved ones in the shot? Be a little inventive with your composition.

Focus on the small details

Starfish

On a similar note of being inventive, too many people focus on “the big picture” when taking their travel photos.  While sweeping landscapes certainly have their place in the holiday album, try to spot the little things that can capture the spirit of your trip just as effectively. This could be an ice cream cone from your favourite seaside café, an interesting pattern on a rug at the local market, or a pretty little flower poking through the sand at the beach.

Sack the smile

Playing on the beach

Staged smiling shots are so last century. Instead, try to photograph your travelling companions interacting with the environment around them. Whether it is walking along the beach, enjoying a delicious tapas, or haggling with a shop owner, these shots are guaranteed to be more interesting that your standard stand-and-smile images, and a lot more realistic too.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be a travel photography pro in no time!

What are your favourite travel photography tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

Images: English countryside by [Duncan]Sunlight by Emilian Robert VicolEiffel Tower by Eric Schnider, Starfish by Cielo de la Paz and Family on the beach by JD Harvill

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