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Ten Tips for Taking Great Holiday Photos

There's more to snapping great travel photos than simply waving a selfie stick around (although even that has its place). These ten tips and tricks will see you taking truly epic holiday pics.
30 Jan, 2024
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos

Travelling the world allows you to experience fascinating cultures and incredible natural landscapes, and you’re going to want to document the experience with great photos.

Not only will you share them with family and friends on social media as you travel, but you’ll want to relive the best moments of your trip in years to come.

Producing good photos is not as easy as it looks. Selfies are simple, but that novelty soon wears off. To really capture the magic of a destination in your snaps, you’re going to need a few tips and tricks up your sleeve.

Here are ten practical tips for taking great holiday photos.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Get a good camera.

1. Invest in a good camera

There’s no substitute for a good quality camera — it’s key to taking great photos. And these days you don’t have to be an expert to master the basics, as the automated settings will do a lot of the work for you. The main advantages of a decent DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera are image quality, zoom capability, ability to capture movement clearly and shoot in low light, and battery life.

A mirrorless camera is the perfect choice for capturing vivid colours and producing high-resolution images with sparkling quality. It won’t have the bulk of a traditional DSLR camera and will allow you to swap lenses with ease. Browse the latest range here.

If you have a recently released smart phone, the camera is probably on par with the above options, but the limitations are generally zoom range, capturing movement clearly, shooting in low light, and battery life. However, a phone camera is awesome as a backup and for grabbing supplementary shots with ease.

If you are a total newbie to photography, consider taking a class with your new camera before you head off on holiday.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Avoid the shakes by using a tripod.

2. Avoid the shakes

You should also invest in a good quality but lightweight tripod. It should be strong enough to support your camera, but flexible enough to be folded down so you can travel with it easily. You’ll be able to use it to capture razor sharp images, even in low light.

3. Get up early

It’s worth being an early riser if you want to take great travel photos. The light is much better first thing in the morning than at any time throughout the day. It’s soft and gentle, subjects generally have more texture and depth, and colours are more vivid. As the day goes on, the light gets more and more harsh and washes out most of the colour. In many overseas destinations, morning is also the most active time of the day. If you are photographing a market for example, you’ll need to get there early to see it in full swing.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Rise early to capture the best light.

The exception to this rule is photographing indoors. If you want to get great photos of a room (say a hotel room, for example), shoot just before sunset (while there is still some light outside). Switch on lamps etc to light the room more dramatically.

4. Fill the frame with your subject

How many sets of travel photos have you sat through, where in every image the subject takes up a tiny proportion of the image and is surrounded by masses of uninteresting background. With the exception of big landscapes, get in close! Not literally. Use your zoom! If you are taking a shot of a monkey for example, try and fill the frame using your zoom lens, rather than having a small monkey in the middle with lots of trees and bush. Fill as much of the frame with your subject as you can. You’ll end up with much more interesting shots.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Fill the frame.

5. Take lots and lots (and lots!) of pictures

Once upon a time you had to pay to get your film developed, so every shot, good or bad, was costing you money. These days with digital cameras, it doesn’t matter how many images you take. And generally, among ten photos, there will be one worth keeping. So, take lots of photos, and don’t delete anything until you get home and can go through them properly on a computer. What doesn’t look so great on your camera display might look amazing when viewed on a bigger screen — and vice versa.

6. Get creative with your angles

It’s a must to utilise what you have around you to take beautiful images, so get creative! Look for interesting angles and set-ups. Shoot through windows or door frames. Look for reflective surfaces like water or mirrors and see if they can help you capture the essence of the scene in a visually interesting way. The possibilities are endless.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Look for reflective angles.

7. Always back-up your images

This is a critical point. You have to back-up your images (create a duplicate set) as you travel, so that if something happens to your camera, you won’t lose all your photos. It does happen. Create a folder on your laptop and get into the habit of copying all the day’s photos from your camera onto the computer. Don’t delete them off the camera though. The idea is to have two complete sets, so that if something happens to one, you still have the other.

8. Ask before you snap

When it comes to photographing people, it’s always good etiquette to ask permission. The last thing you want to do is offend someone and for the situation to get ugly. Think about it. If the shoe was on the other foot, how would you feel? Sometimes you may be asked to pay something to the subject in order to take their photo. You can then decide if the shot is worth the price.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Ask permission before you snap.

9. Fly high

Photographic drones are much more accessible and affordable these days, and they can capture truly epic shots. You’ll only need a small one, but even so, spend plenty of time before your trip learning how to use it. They are complicated to master.

You’ll also need to be aware of local laws and restrictions regarding the use of drones. In many situations they’re prohibited and falling foul of the law in a foreign country is not a path you want to go down.

Ten tips for taking great holiday photos
Ten tips for taking great holiday photos: Pack a drone.

10. Befriend the selfie stick

You’ll look like a complete tourist, but hey, sometimes to capture that once-in-a-lifetime shot of yourself at somewhere like Machu Picchu, you just have to break out the selfie stick. They don’t take up much room and can be easily carried around until needed. Just make sure you invest in a good quality option (so it doesn’t break the first time you use it!).

This post was published thanks to C. R. Kennedy.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of tips for taking great holiday photos? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.



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