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How to take great travel photographs

Capture stunning travel photos on camera with these tips on holiday photography from Which? Travel.

Woman taking photographs while on holiday

Holiday photography

1. Put people at ease

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If you’re snapping children, play the fool, get them laughing, then get down to their eye level and let them see the result on the LCD screen.

If you take pictures of locals, ask permission first and put them at their ease.

Alternatively, become 'invisible' when taking scenes like market traders at work so they won’t be self-conscious.

2. Pick patterns

Look for patterns and shapes that will please the eye.

A row of vines or a spiral staircase can create a memorable image.

Lines that lead your eyes in a direction such as a winding road, an avenue of trees or a canal work well, as do combining vertical and horizontal lines such as pillars or a tiled floor.

3. Go off-centre

Photograph showing grid for composition (rule of thirds)

A grid showing the 'rule of thirds'

A photo tends to look better when its subject isn’t in the middle. 

Imagine the scene split into a grid of nine rectangles and put your point of interest along the lines or where they intersect. This is called the 'rule of thirds'.

Ensure the subject is the sharpest part of the picture by putting it in the centre of the frame, push the shutter button halfway to lock the focus then reframe the shot.

4. Be creative

Don’t take the obvious shot of a landmark like the Eiffel Tower that has been done a million times. Find an unusual angle. 

Change perspective by finding something to stand on and pointing the camera down, or by lying on the ground. Frame the subject, perhaps with a striking tree on one side, or take the shot through a window.

5. Get to know your camera

Most of all, get to know your camera. Don’t ignore the manual but read through it thoroughly and experiment with what you learn. 

Most digital cameras have basic modes of night, portrait, and landscape modes that will improve quality for those types of shots. But many also have manual settings that allow you to be much more creative by using features such as shutter speeds, apertures, ISO settings and white balance.

6. Play with light

Conventional wisdom says you should keep the sun behind you when taking an outdoor shot, but you can get a better result by standing at right angles to the sun and using the flash. 

Shooting into the sun can create good silhouettes if the subject is close to you, but use flash to avoid making the subject underexposed.

7. Keep it simple

Close and personal

Experiment with the macro function to get a sharp image if the subject is closer than 50cm away.

Crowding too many objects into a photo can make it look confused. Instead try techniques such as choosing a main subject and moving closer to it or zooming into the detail so it fills the frame. 

8. Think big

When taking photos of a tall building, such as a church spire, get close to it and point the camera upwards at a sharp angle. 

Alternatively, focus in on one small detail rather than trying to get the whole structure in the shot. Also try including an object in the foreground to give a better sense of depth.