How to photograph your travels and still be in the moment
I love the fact that travel photography is such an accessible hobby to us all. Even great quality cameras can be picked up second hand for a couple of hundred pounds and virtually everyone has a smartphone in their pocket at all times.
We take more photos than even before and it’s only going to increase – even my two year old knows how to use my camera and my one year old is desperate to get his hands on it (he’s got at least another year before he can be trusted!)
But with access to cameras at our fingers tips, it can be easy to spend our travels photographing our perfect moments, rather than just enjoying them.
Did you see this article: Instagrammers are sucking the life and soul out of travel ?
She talks about social media influencers being guilty of ruining experiences while they pose for the perfect shot. But let’s be honest, it’s not just the official influencers, it’s everyone. Every man and his dog has an Instagram account and everyone wants that perfect selfie.
It’s not just millennials and their Insta feeds, it’s parents and grandparents too. I see them spend their holidays desperately trying to get the perfect photo of the kids but end up missing that super cute moment completely.
I’m guilty of it too. I was so busy taking photos of George the other day I hadn’t noticed Joseph had climbed onto the kitchen worktop to reach a cake! Bad parenting on so many levels there!
I struggle to get nice photos for my blog when I’m on holiday with the kids because I already have my hands full. So what I tend to do is leave them with Sam for an hour while I go and take all my photos. This means I don’t need to think about photography while I’m with them and I can just relax and have a nice time. If I see a nice photo opportunity I’ll take it but I don’t feel like I need to. This happened while we were in Poland recently and you may be able to tell all of my photos from the trip were taken within about half an hour – despite being there for a long weekend!
Read more: Postcards from Poland: A weekend in Warsaw
It is possible to take great travel photos without missing the moments and here are my tips to do so….
#1. Plan the shots you want to take
Know what photos you want to take before you even arrive in your destination. If you’re going to Paris for example, you might want a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower so do a bit of research and know the best location for your selfie as well as the camera angle and the pose you want. If you know this before you arrive, you can quickly snap that perfect selfie and spend the rest of your time enjoying the epic monument.
I look for inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram and will save the pictures to a private Pinterest board or save them to a collection on Instagram.
#2. Stick to photographing at Golden Hours
After years of taking hundreds of photos during each trip, I finally realised the only photos I ever used were taken during golden hour. Golden hour is just after sunrise and just before sunset. It’s when the natural light is soft and golden and it makes everything look gorgeous. Photos taken at midday often have harsh, strong lighting and dark shadows so they rarely turn out well.
These days, I take virtually all my photos at golden hour so I rarely even get my camera out between 9am-5pm. I’ll go out of my way to make sure we’re doing something nice just before sunset so I can get some lovely pictures. I usually get up early and go out alone at sunrise as this is a great time to photograph destinations – not only because the lighting is lovely but because it’s very quiet.
#3. Use a tripod and continuous mode
If you want to get some natural, candid photos of people then I recommend setting your camera up on a tripod and putting it into continuous shoot mode.
I use this really cheap lightweight tripod and the camera I use is the Lumix G80 which has a time lapse function. I set it to take a photo every two seconds for a few minutes and get hundreds of photos. Admittedly, the majority are terrible but there are always some great ones in there too. A GoPro is also a good camera to do this with as this also has a simple time lapse function. I have the GoPro HERO 6 and love it.
#4. Don’t bother if it’s not going to be a great shot
It takes a bit of practice to realise what will make a good shot and what’s just going to turn out horrible. If I know that a picture won’t be great, I just don’t take it. So it’s things like food shots in dimly lit restaurants which always turn out grainy and dull, photos of people with busy or cluttered backgrounds, photos out of car windows and photos of animals that refuse to face you! The list goes on but if I can see a photo isn’t going to be great, I don’t bother.
#5. Accept that the first photo is often the best
This particularly applies to taking photos of people – especially children who won’t sit still. Whenever I take a selfie or a picture of the boys, the first shot is always the one I use. Once you take 2-3 photos you notice people’s smiles fade and it begins to look staged and formal. The first one might not be perfect but it’s normally the best.
#6. Practice at home
It’s true that practice makes perfect so get out and practice with your camera as much as you can – but do this while you’re at home so you’ve mastered certain techniques ready for your holiday. I know, it’s not as exciting taking photos of your home turf but if you put the leg work in at home, you’ll be able to quickly take photos while you’re away and enjoy the special moments without being frustrated at your crappy pictures.
#7. Take it in turns being photographer
If you enjoy taking photos then it can be difficult to put the camera down, but it’s even harder to hand it over to someone else! But if you put someone else in charge of taking photos you can enjoy the moment and also be in a few pictures too!
Do you have any more tips to help you take great travel photos while still enjoying the moment?