Cambridge Photographer, Louisa French, gives her 10 top tips for taking better holiday photographs this summer.
1. Tell a story
Start at the beginning and document your holiday. Capture all the little details… the kids’ faces getting on an airplane for the first time, the poolside cocktails, the amazing sunset walk, a beautiful plate of food, the local market. Document the interesting stuff you see. These pictures are great mixed in with the family line-ups if you put a photo book together at the end of your trip from all your holiday photographs.
2. Choose your subject and frame it
Decide what you’re taking a photograph of. Is it a portrait of somebody, or a landscape with people in it? Is it an action shot or close-up? Once you’ve chosen your subject, you can frame it properly.
3. Think about the composition
There are lots of ‘rules’ when it comes to photograph composition, but I always tend to ‘go with my gut feeling’. Good holiday photographs draw you in. They make you want to really look and understand the story. If it feels good to look at for you, then go with it!
4. Use the light!
Hot sunny places often have harsh bright light, but you can use this to your advantage if you think carefully. This was taken in our hotel room early one morning. A small beam of hard light was coming through the blackout curtains onto my daughter’s bed, so I grabbed the camera. The rest of the room was very dark except the patch of light she was in!
5. Capture the candid moments
Holiday photographs don’t always have to be line-ups. Let’s face it… we’ve all been frustrated asking the kids to stand still and smile for the camera. Chances are you get fake smiles and that’s if you’re lucky! Its just as important to capture the candid moments. Snapping the sections of your holiday that everybody was really enjoying. And remember – they don’t always need to facing the camera to make a great picture!
6. Don’t forget the architecture
No matter where you go, there will always be some interesting architecture. Whether its an ancient temple, an old crumbling farmhouse, or a modern skyscraper, find something you love, and think about how you can photograph it.
7. Learn to use the self-timer!
Selfies are great, but sometimes, you want something a bit more than a close-up and somebody with an outstretched arm! Most digital cameras have a self-timer. It allows you to set up the camera to delay taking the photograph for 10 or 15 seconds. This gives you enough time to press the shutter then run round and be in your family photo. If all else fails, there’s always the selfie stick!
8. Take your camera (or camera phone) everywhere!
Although I use a Canon 5D mark iii with various different lenses for work, I don’t usually take it on holiday as its’ too heavy and cumbersome to drag around everywhere with the children. Instead, I rely on a small DSLR like the Canon GX1 mark 2 and my iphone camera! I keep both in a ziplock plastic bag in my beach bag to keep the sand and water out, and they’re on hand whenever I need them!
9. Hold Steady
Too many of my holiday photographs have been slightly out of focus from a shaky camera hand! This is especially true when taking photos in low light in the evenings. A tip I’ve learnt is to either balance your elbows on something steady (like a table or wall) or tuck both your elbows into your sides to help balance the camera. This way, you’ll get a much better focus from your camera or phone.
10. Edit your photos!
Even the best photographs benefit from some post production touching up. If you use an Apple desktop or laptop, then I’d recommend iphoto. Some digital download software also offers basic editing capabilities. Most camera phones allow you to edit photos and if not, the VSCO app is a perfect alternative. Don’t just apply a pre-made filter… experiment with the contrast, the shadows, the brightness, the colour, tones, cast and grain to get the picture looking exactly as you want it.