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Take Better Holiday Photographs

Posted on 23 Jan, 2019 by Sarah Hart

My top 10 tips for better snaps of your family on holiday this year

This January, my hubby, and I took a Winter sun break to the Maldives to celebrate Matt turning 40 this month. LUCKY, LUCKY US! There aren’t enough words to describe just how magical and stunning this place is! And is often the case for me, my camera was never far from my side. Sometimes, I had my DSLR camera, and at other times, I would just have my phone camera, with the benefit of not having to carry my heavy DSLR.

Matt too, would often grab some snaps on his mobile camera. And it was on our 2nd evening out there, that he took a photo on his camera and (impressed with what he’d captured), he showed me and asked what I thought! I diplomatically told him it was lovely (and it was!), but the photographer in me, couldn’t help but point out how he could improve his image. So I did! And he captured a much better image…..

horizon through centre of image bad composition
Matt’s first attempt with both the palm tree and horizon on the centre
better composition with horizon on the rule of thirds
A much improved composition with the horizon now on the lower third gridline and the tree on the vertical third grid line.

That evening, we took a few shots together – his first attempt, and then the improved shot after I’d given him a pointer or two. And it gave me the idea of this blog so I could share with you how to improve your own holiday snaps. So here’s my top 10 tips for creating better holiday photos this year…

1. Use the “rule of thirds” that many photographers will follow to create their images. When you look through your viewfinder, imagine a noughts and crosses grid over the scene you are photographing – many viewfinders will the screen split in to thirds so that you don’t need to even imagine, just press the shutter button down half way to see the grid. Use these lines and also the points where the lines intersect to better position your subject. Find something in the scene (person or object) which will lie on one of the lines. Doing this will generally result in a more pleasing and balanced composition.

take better holiday photos
improve your holiday images

Most photos look better if the horizon is position on the upper or lower third line, rather than directly through the centre.

2. When photographing people and animals, not only is it better to have them on one of the vertical 3rd lines, as above), it’s best to have them looking in to the picture centre, ie. looking or facing in to the frame. “Negative space”, a term used by photographers and artists, is created when you put your subject on one of the third lines. Make sure the subject is angled looking towards the negative space.

take better photos of your family on holiday - use the rule of thirds and negative space
Original image I took of Matt looking out to see with the negative space in front of him
how not to take photos improve your image composition
It just doesn’t look right to have the negative space behind him

3. Look for different angles and don’t be afraid to try out different vantage points. Shooting from below and up towards the sky, these palm trees looking more striking set against the deep blue sky for added impact.

palm tree patterns take interesting photos on holiday

Sometimes just by moving to the left or right, you can really improve the composition or interest of your image. The great thing about digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like and experiment with different angles – then select the ones which you think are better pictures when you are home.

capture beautiful sunset images
Stunning sunset. BUT…………
kent photographer shows how to take better photos
….just by taking a step back I could capture the palm tree silhouetted against the sky – again with the tree on the imaginary vertical 3rds gridline

4. Take photos of your food! Yes, really! It’s not just foodie folks on Instagram that take pictures of what they are eating. Travelling to new countries often allows you to try new or exotic dishes. Taking the odd photo of some of your meals helps to aid the memories of your holiday. My husband was diagnosed with Coeliac disease last year and the staff at our hotel in the Maldives were so great at providing him with gluten-free options. They even made him gluten-free cakes on his 40th birthday!

improve your holiday photography with kent photographer

5. Take photos of signs/maps etc. These images may not actually appear in your photo albums or get shared on social media, BUT they will help jog your memory about the names of places you visited. I always create photo year books for my family (read HERE to see why printing your images is so important) and if it’s a year or so after the holiday, it’s much easier to remember place names, restaurants, beaches etc, when there’s a quick snap of a sign or map.

6. Take a mixture of posed images of you all as a family and more candid shots – you can often capture great expressions or moments from the candid images where your subject isn’t aware that the camera is pointed at them.

7. Make sure YOU are in the photos. After all, you are part of your family holiday too so make sure you appear in some of your photos. Pass the camera to other family members and/or if appropriate, people you be-friend or meet on holiday. Learn how to use your self-timer on your camera – this is a great way to make sure you can all be in the photo.

holiday in the maldives - use a self timer to capture the whole family
I set the self timer on my DSLR for this shot (I also made sure we were off-centre to improve the composition)

8) Make sure you zoom in on details – fill the frame with your entire subject. Local markets are a great place to visit and capture close up pictures of souvenirs or local fruit and vegetables.

photograph interesting patterns and shapes when on holiday
Found this gorgeous (dead!) crab on the beach

9) Take spare batteries and/or your battery charger with you. It’s so disappointing to realise that your battery has run out mid way through the trip. The same goes for spare media cards – pack plenty of spare media cards to record your images to. I have several 32GB SD cards with me so that I don’t feel limited to how many images I can take when I’m away.

10. And finally, take a variety of photos of the same scene/moments. Wide angles to show the whole scene and zoom in with your camera lens to shoot people, wildlife or interesting subjects. If you spot anything funny, or really unusual, take a snap of it. A mixture of images helps you to really document your holiday and tell a more complete story of your trip. And THAT is, after all, the point of our holiday photos.

capture funny moments on holiday - kent newborn photographer Sarah Hart
Hubby caught me trying to get in to a hammock…..with a sunburnt bum – hence my face!
photograph local wildlife on holiday
Might not be clear, but that is a bat flying over our pool!!!

black tip reef shark on holiday in maldives
Captured lots of wildlife on this holiday….here’s a Black-Tip Reef shark
use the rule of thirds for capturing your holiday scenes
My view for most of the week

If you’ve enjoyed learning how to take better holiday photographs and are interested in learning more, I have beginners photography tuition sessions this year to help you learn more about using your DSLR cameras. Do get in touch if you would like more information.

We booked through an independent travel adviser, Julie Kenyon – https://www.thepersonaltravelagents.co.uk/ – a massive thank you to her for finding such a special place in my budget and making the whole experience super easy – even booking Gluten-free meals for the plane journey! You can also follow her on Facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/tunbridgewellstravel/

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