How to take Better Holiday Photos

A silhouette of a boy on a bike in a doorway at Ta Prohm temple

Quick holiday photo tips for better holiday photography

Have you ever wondered how to take better holiday photos? Or why holiday photography seems so easy and great when done by professionals, but your shots seem a little bland? Sure, composition, lighting and the other basic skills behind all photography still apply in this field, however, there are some really basic things that the pros do that you can easily imitate. Fear no more friends, here are some quick holiday photo tips that will teach you how to take better holiday photos, and you will be a master in holiday photography in no time.

Use a foreground element to give the image depth

When people consider how to take better holiday photos this is nothing something that they will think of. Therefore, you can use this holiday photo tip to make your holiday photography truly unique. By placing something in the foreground of your image it will add foreground interest. Additionally, when someone looks at your photograph it will look as though it has more depth when compared to ordinary photographs.

Try to make sure the picture has something in the mid-ground and background to add further richness to the image. If you take the example of the beach photo, I noticed the rope and moved behind it to take the shot. The boats in the mid-ground are also quite nice but without the foreground element it would be an average shot of a beach and some boats. Next time you are wondering how to take better holiday photos, look for a bush, a fence, or some other random object that can add depth to you image. Another good holiday photo tip is to try to make the foreground object relevant to the area, or that particular shot.

The old town in Lijiang China
Yangjiang beach with boats

Use Framing

Framing is used in portrait and many other areas of photography. You take the central element (the thing you want to photograph) and use other elements around to frame it. You can take the same principle and apply it to your holiday photography. For example, you might be near the sea and notice that there is a gap in the rock formation that forms a circle. In that case you could stand in the circle, so you are framed by the rocks. You might notice some forestry near a beautiful building, walk around to see if you can position yourself so that the trees frame the building.

This holiday photo tip is one that may feel a little difficult at first. However, once you have practiced it a few times it will become easier and you can really start to have some fun with it.

Wutong Mountain Shenzhen Chin
Ta Prohm doorway

Shoot during golden hour

If you are wondering how to take better holiday photos, then this is the number 1 holiday photo tip to improve your holiday photography. Golden hours occur just after sunrise and just before sunset. The most obvious advantage of shooting during these hours is you are more likely to capture beautiful golden skies. When you add an amazing sunset or sunrise to a famous landscape, building, or monument then its highly likely that you will end up with a very cool shot.

Another advantage with the sunrise is there will be less tourists around ruining your shot, this is particularity relevant if you are visiting a somewhere famous. Golden hour is also a nice time to get some silhouettes, for this, expose your camera for a bright part of the sky and the rest of the image should fall into darkness providing it is not also lit up.

A goose with Angkor Wat in the background

Look out for Waterfalls, Lakes, and Rivers

Water usually looks nice in photographs, particularly with cityscapes. You can add something a little extra to your holiday photography by finding a lake or river with a nice landscape or cityscape providing the background. In the right lighting conditions the water can give a nice reflection of the buildings or mountains.

You can use the water in different ways. If you are going for a reflection be careful not to use a filter as it can have the opposite effect. However, a ND filter would be a great option if you want a slow shutter shot that captures the motion of the water (use with a GorillaPod or Lightweight Tripod). See if you can position yourself for a perfect reflection next time you find a water feature with some buildings nearby.

Photograph the locals

This is my personal favorite holiday photo tip and something I did not consider when first contemplating how to take better holiday photos. Having some images of the local population of the place you are visiting will give your holiday album a greater sense of authenticity, and take your holiday photography to the next level.

Keep your eyes peeled for strong characters that look as though they belong in that environment. Whilst doing this its important to remember to be respectful with the camera, most people don’t enjoy having a camera randomly pointed at them. Be discreet, preferably using a smaller camera. Street vendors and local performers can be a great place to start, a small donation/purchase and a quick chat beforehand can go a long way to getting a great shot.

A boy writing calligraphy in Zhuhai China
Portrait Chinese Man

Planning and Timing are everything

When you are wondering how to take better holiday photos, you may think it is all about the camera. However, most landscape photographers will tell you that the majority of the hard work is done before they even show up on the scene to take the shot. The same is true for great holiday photography. If you just want to keep things casual that is fine, and there is nothing wrong with showing up and taking a few shots just to enjoy the fun of photography and the beautiful surroundings. However, you can’t get serious about consistently taking good images without putting in the planning.

As part of this holiday photo tip, it is important that you plan to avoid crowds. That means plan to avoid peak seasons, get up early and be at the main attractions before the big crowds arrive. In addition, plan for the weather, sometimes a rainy shot looks great, other times you may want clear skies. Is the attraction you want to photo open and what is the best angle to shoot it from? Are there other things on the way or around it that could make for a nice shot also? In holiday photography there are many elements that you can not control, but by planning well you are taking back some of this control to get the shot that you desire.


A cat in an old building in Zhuhai

To summarize, in thinking about how we can take better holiday photos, there are some very simple things we can do to drastically improve our shots. Methods such as, looking out for a foreground element, shooting during golden hour,  and looking out for a water feature do not require a degree in photography, it is simply a case of being a bit more aware and proactive about holiday photography.

Many of the holiday photo tips I mentioned in this article follow the same principles as Landscape photography. To find out more and learn some of the fundamentals about Landscape Photography Check out this useful article.


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