It’s funny how the whole idea of taking photos has changed. You used to need an actual camera, and you would be thoughtfully selective about what you would take photos of; always mindful that the film inside the camera had a finite capacity. You would then eagerly get the film developed, perhaps marvelling at that speedy new-fangled one hour processing. Some of the photos would then be lovingly placed inside an album, to be shown to friends and family at a later stage who would look at photos of your 1989 trip to Mexico with a fixed smile while requesting another large glass of wine. Now you just snap away on your smartphone, knowing that any bad photos can be discarded, before uploading the lot of them onto numerous social media accounts to be shared with your friends and family who can just scroll through them without you even being there. But maybe you want to take better photos on your next holiday – some truly marvellous photos that are good from the start, without needing a number of filters to make them presentable. It’s really not all that difficult…
- Learn to Balance Space
You might want a straightforward photo of you or your companions standing in front of some amazing place. This is fine, but this is also rather ordinary. Try to balance the space in the photo, meaning that your subject (the person or people in the photo) are in the corner or off to the side of the composition. They will still clearly be the focus of the photo and yet with an increase in the use of negative space (the portions of the photo that are not the primary subject), the primary subject will stand out even more. It results in a fantastic looking, even arty photo. You can also still take a whole bunch of straightforward photos too. The camera is digital, so you’re not going to worry about running out of film!
- Embrace Symmetry
There’s something alluring about pronounced, clean lines when it comes to photographic composition. Look at angles to photograph from where you can achieve this symmetry. It might be as simple as positioning yourself right in the middle of a street to take a photo of the road disappearing into the distance. You can activate the grid lines on your smartphone’s camera in order to help you capture a perfectly symmetrical angle.
- Practical Photography
There are a huge number of practical advantages when it comes to not having to worry about running out of film. These photographs don’t have to be well-composed or in the slightest bit arty, but they can sure be practical when you’re travelling. Take a photo of your suitcase before you leave for the airport. Ensure that it’s a good, clear shot that identifies the suitcase. In the rather unlikely event of your suitcase being sent to Vietnam while you’re on your way to Australia, you have a digital copy identifying your bag to send to the airline. You should also take a couple of photos of your accommodation (one showing the actual street number, and a wider shot identifying the building). A photo of the street sign is also good. These practical photos will be helpful if you should be trying to find your way back after a few too many drinks.
- The Beautiful Light
It’s not rocket science to suggest that you’re going to capture more beautiful photos on a photography tour in Cuba than you would on a trip to Finland in the depths of winter. Wherever you happen to be, use natural light to your advantage and avoid using the flash mode as much as possible. Natural light gives your composition a warmth that simply cannot be replicated however much post production work you do on the photo, and a flash is almost always obvious, giving your photo a washed out, artificially saturated look. This doesn’t mean that you can only snap photos in the glaring sunlight, but a natural source of light will simply result in better photos.
- Use Filters with Restraint
It used to be that any post production work on photos was low key and subtle, and the trick was that nobody should be able to know that any retouching had taken place. This has all changed now, and smartphone cameras come loaded with a range of filters and effects. If this is not enough, there are a multitude of free online photo editing programs that can allow you to do even more. The trouble is that everyone knows about these now, and so many of the filters can look blindingly obvious. The end result can be too pristine, giving the photo a look of cheap artificiality. Less is more when it comes to retouching, and while you might want to carefully play with the exposure of a photo before declaring it to be finished, you should do so with restraint. Sometimes it’s the small imperfections that can make a photo perfect, and undeniably yours.