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13 Top Tips for Taking the Best Holiday Photos

  • Learn how to take great photographs on a DSLR, a digital camera, or a smartphone
  • Make the most of your holiday by taking the perfect pictures to remember it
  • Show all your friends where you have been

by Roxanne Wells

A good holiday is full of special moments, sights and experiences, and photographs play an important part in holding onto those memories. Whether you’re a keen photographer who doesn’t leave home without a portable tripod, or you prefer to snap away on a smartphone, we’ve got some top tips for making sure the photos do your holiday justice.

1. Have a Plan

If you’re serious about getting great holiday photos, taking some time to plan your ‘shooting schedule’ will pay off. Work through your itinerary in advance and make a note of anything that you’d especially like to get a photo of. You could also consider the best angles or spots to take the snap, and what functions on your camera will get the result that you want.

2. Be Camera Ready

That said, the very best holiday photos are often those that capture unexpected moments or views that are impossible to plan for. Keeping your camera charged and in auto mode will ensure you’re ready to snap at a second’s notice.

3. Consider the Light

Light is a professional photographer’s number one consideration, although if you’re sailing past your subjects on a river cruise you’ll have very limited control over conditions. What you can control however is your camera settings for the best possible result. For example, shooting at dusk on a moving boat may require an increase in the ISO setting to maximise the light, and an adjustment of shutter speed to get the best balance of increased light and stability.

4. Switch to Manual

If you’ve got a reasonable understanding of your camera and the rules of photography, making full use of the functions with manual mode will usually give you the best results. Those using a DSLR might even want to consider shooting in raw mode and editing later to benefit from increased control over the final look of the shot.

5. A Steady Hand

Taking photos from a moving boat can be a tricky task, so you’ll want to keep your camera as stable as possible. Portable travel tripods are a great investment, and many are lightweight enough to carry around in a rucksack to set up those essential sightseeing shots when off-ship. If you don’t have a travel tripod, resting the camera on something stable like a table, as well as using the image stabilisation function, will help. Sports mode is also great for capturing action/motion shots perfectly.

6. Save Space

There’s nothing worse than running out of camera memory at a crucial moment, so delete any unwanted images daily.

7. Mind the Gap

If you’re using your smartphone to take holiday snaps, remember that there’s usually a slight delay between pressing the button and taking the actual photo. Make sure you keep your phone still until you’ve got the shot!

8. Avoid Digital Zoom

Another smartphone camera rule of thumb is to avoid the digital zoom, which typically just reduces the pixilation and the quality of the shot. Consider whether simply cropping the shot afterwards will give you the image that you want.

9. Try Night Mode

If your camera has a night mode be sure to make full use of it during those evening tours and city strolls. Be wary of using it when on the boat though, as the longer shutter speed can have a negative effect on motion shots.

10. Choose Your Focus

Rather than taking the point and shoot scatter gun approach, for best results take a minute to consider your focus. If you’re taking a shot of a travel companion, portrait mode will focus in on the face and blur the background for an arty result, while landscape mode is great for scenery. Wide angle mode is ideal for long horizontal scenes or group shots, and macro will allow you to get really detailed close up images.

11. Snap the Small Stuff

While you’ll obviously want to get photos of the main sights and attractions on your itinerary, don’t forget to also capture some of the smaller details of your trip – a really good meal you enjoyed or the view from your cabin window, for example. It’s often the more personal photos, rather than the generic shots of impressive landmarks, that will trigger the best memories.

12. Get In Shot

As tempting as it may be to stay behind the camera, do try to get some photos of you actually enjoying your holiday. Either ask a fellow holidaymaker (or your tour manager!) to take the shot, or set up the camera yourself and put it on timer. Again, a portable tripod will be your friend. Alternatively, there’s always the dreaded selfie stick!

13. Snap ‘Appy

While a smartphone camera is no match for a quality DSLR, one of the advantages is the wealth of in-built apps that you have at your fingertips. From instant sharing apps like Instagram and trendy filter apps like Hipstamatic and VSCO Cam, to practical apps like Snapseed for editing and Sun Seeker for the best light, there are endless low cost or free apps available to make taking those smartphone photos easy and fun.

Whatever apps, functions and photography tricks you use, be sure to take plenty of photos during your travels. After all, amazing holidays deserve to be remembered!