Top 5 holiday photographs tips

Top 5 holiday photographs tips

As summer time is coming to an end in the northern hemisphere, so are most family holidays. This is probably the time of the year when most holiday photographs are being viewed and shared around the world. It feels like a good time to reflect on our recent memories (since they are fresh in mind) and see what went well and what could be improved.

So you are passionate about making good photographs while spending time with family and friends! Looking back on my past few years and the holidays I have been on myself, I have gathered a few tips to make your photography as pleasant and enjoyable as possible during these family affairs.

  1. Travel light

We’ve all seen professionals hauling around giant backpacks full of camera bodies, lenses and chargers. They have good reasons for doing so, but you do not. Going around the Louvre or walking around the Tutankamon’s tomb for 6 hours with the equivalent of a full suitcase on your back is a sure way of ruining your holiday (not to mention your back!). Choose one camera body, one lens or even go lighter with a compact camera. Should you dare, even a decent phone camera should do the trick in most situations. Doing so will not just save you from back pains, but it will allow you to concentrate more on your experiences and not spend your time fumbling around a camera bag. It may even grant you the opportunity to make a photograph where a big camera would be prohibited.

  1. Stick to one lens

Ok, this is along the same line as tip number 1, but it is so important that I want to give it a special place. Whether you prefer primes or zooms, keeping just one lens on your camera body will save you a lot of heartache and complications.

In the first place, you know you have no other options so you will only look for shots you can get with the lens you have on. This will most probably focus your mind on what is around you and you may be surprised with the results. Secondly you are not missing shots by going through your camera bag looking for that one lens of flash that would make your photograph perfect. This brings me to tip number 3:

  1. Stop being a perfectionist

Most of you have been on tourist tours by now. You know that most of the time the bus does not wait for you (for too long anyway) and visiting hours coincide with the worst light of the day. Let’s face it, you will not take National Geographic style photos while following the guide with the red umbrella.

Should this stop you from pressing the shutter? Absolutely not! That photograph of your child going up to the palace guard and pulling a funny face will be priceless during the future years. Your memories should not be subject to any technical nonsense.

  1. Be an opportunist

You are in a foreign country (or city) and you may not return there very soon. Unless you have spent at least a month documenting that place, local habits and people, chances are you have little idea of what to expect to happen in front of you. So when you see a shot that looks half-decent to you, shoot it. Don’t wait around pondering your decision, what you are seeing right this second may never take place ever again.

  1. Bracket your exposure

Yes, I know… a rather controversial subject. A good photographer should know how to set his or her camera before putting the eyepiece to his or her face. I largely agree with that statement and I strongly believe every craftsperson should know the tools of his craft. But precisely knowing the limitations of my camera I choose to bracket. Going around the streets of a new city you are photographing one second in the sun and the next in full shade. Most of the time you may have both sun and shade in your viewfinder. I simply do not have the time to adjust the exposure compensation dial properly and honestly I do not want to. After all I am there for the experience and to be with family and friends, not to document a story for a difficult editor.

  1. Bonus tip: bring larger cards than you thing you may need

Keeping in line with the carefree attitude, watching a lion chase down its prey because you are deleting shots form your card in order to make room for new ones (who hasn’t done that before?) is not the approach of choice. Memory space is cheap so bring as many cards as you can and keep shooting.

So these have been my top tips on how to make your holiday photography as good as possible. As you may have noticed, I have kept a light-hearted approach to this topic. This is largely due to my belief that holidays are experiences that are meant to be enjoyed first and photographed second. Obviously this is not the case if you are going on assignment or if the purpose of our trip is the photography itself. Those cases I shall cover in a separate post.

Oh, and the photograph at the top? It was taken by the pool, with my cell phone.

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