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When you’re on holiday you will often see things that will make you think, wow that would make a great photograph. But actually capturing a decent picture of what you see can be easier said than done. If you want to improve your travel photography and come back from your trip with better pictures then keep reading. Here are 12 tips on how to take great photographs when on holiday.

1. Capture local elements

Most destinations around the world will have unique elements. Such as landmarks, unique vehicles, clothing, food, people, culture and other interesting features. To capture a really good holiday photograph then think about what makes your destination different, and then try and include that in your picture. This might include framing your scene so that it includes some of these elements. For example, in London you may want to include the Changing of the Guard, Black Cabs or Double Decker buses in the foreground of your pictures and then a landmark in the back.

Photography and capturing unique elements

2. Shoot in different light

Lighting can have a massive impact on how nice an image will be. Such as taking pictures around sunrise or sunset might result in a photograph with beautiful and colourful light. If you share your images on social media you may find pictures that have this kind of lighting tend to do really well.

Sunsets and photography

You could also shoot and capture silhouettes such as seen below. This is where the light parts of the image is exposed for whilst the darks are not.

Silhouette and cities

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3. Capture the main attractions

Everyone likes to take pictures of the main attractions when travelling, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tower Bridge in London and the Colosseum in Rome. These are often the killer shots that will also make for great engagement on social media. To capture better images of these think about your composition, framing, and also consider taking pictures at night when the building may be lit.

Landmarks and travel

4. Photograph the lesser known attractions

As well as the main attractions, try and capture some of the less obvious ones too. These may be smaller buildings, interesting bridges, markets, secret spots and other things.

As you explore you may find interesting things to shoot, or instead do your research in advance. Such as looking online at articles on what to see and do, asking your hotel and locals, or even friends and family who may have previously visited the destination. For popular places, you may find articles that tell you where all the best photography spots are or just search “best photography spots in [destination] on Google or another search engine.

Lesser known attractions - Trains tracks in Hanoi

5. Take pictures of details

Some destinations have incredible details that really help identify that destination or make it extra special. These may be things such as carvings, monuments, building facades or interesting shops. For example in some middle eastern countries they often have beautiful shops selling colourful lamps, rugs and other special items, whilst in Vienna you’ll find impressive statues and monuments.

Photography of details

6. Use reflections and puddles

Not many people want to travel and have a wet and rainy day, but actually you can get some of the coolest images during these types of conditions. Using puddles and reflections in your pictures can aid your composition and create a really interesting shot. You can also take pictures with colourful umbrellas which can make a cool image.

Travel photography and reflections

7. Take Pictures at night

When taking pictures at night, use a tripod and a low ISO setting (if possible). This will ensure your picture isn’t grainy and much higher quality. If you don’t really want to take tripod shots, then try investing in a camera that can capture good low light photographs, such as the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. Some phones are also good at capturing low light photographs without the image quality being degraded too much. To try and avoid blur and handshake when not using a tripod then put your phone or camera on a hard surface. You’ll probably find the camera will need to take a slightly longer exposure in low light but that is expected.

Night photography

8. Show crowds and atmosphere

Taking pictures in crowded places can be a nightmare. But even this you can sometimes use to your advantage when capturing travel images. It can help as you can show the atmosphere and the mood of the destination. If you don’t want lots of people in your image then arrive early in the morning, or try and be patient and wait for a good opening/quiet moment to take your photo. Another option is to use a strong ND (neutral density) filter and a tripod to blur the scene, this gives a nice sense of motion too.

Busy street scenes and blur in India

9. Take photos of food

One of the best things about travelling is some of the delicious food you’ll get to try. A lot of which you may only be able to get in the particular destination you’re visiting. To take photographs of your food use a wide aperture or “portrait mode” on your camera. This will help isolate your food with a blurred background. Another option is to take the image from above looking down. Finally, consider getting a table outside or near a window in natural (but shaded light) which will help you capture a much nicer image without horrible harsh shadows.

Food pictures

10. Capture events

Many large cities will have interesting events and festivals throughout the year. These may provide the perfect opportunity to capture the culture of the destination. Such as Holi in India, Notting Hill Carnival in London and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. When taking pictures of festivals consider taking pictures from high perspectives to really capture the crowds, wide shots, as well as closeups of the people and entertainment.

If your event is in the evening then either use a flash (if possible), or set your iso higher (or to auto). A high ISO may introduce grain to your image but should still allow you to capture the moment which is sometimes better than no shot at all.

Festivals and photography

11. Put yourself in the photograph

Putting yourself in a travel photograph can be a great memory, and also nice to share with your friends and family. The best way to capture such images is to find a nice frame and either use a tripod or friend to capture the picture for you.

Nature and selfies

12. Photograph from high viewpoints

High viewpoints can provide some of the best perspectives of a destination and will allow you to capture fantastic photos. Many destinations have caught onto the fact that many people want to see a place from up high and as a result have created observation decks all over the city. So, when travelling do a little research to find out what kind of viewpoints your destination offers and make sure you don’t miss out.

Photography and High angles

Mike Clegg

Editor-in-chief at travelanddestinations.com
Mike is the primary author of Travel and Destinations. He is from the UK but spends most of his time travelling to new places and then shares his pictures and experiences through Instagram and this blog... [Read full bio]
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