I've included some snapshots I took on recent trips. I'm not a pro photographer by any means, and these images certainly wouldn't win any competitions. But by employing some of the tips below, I've created meaningful images that will never end up in my digital trash can.
1. Always consider the light. While our clever eyes are attuned to subtleties in light and shadow, a camera lens will often reflect only glare or darkness.
- Position your subjects so the sun shines on their faces, capturing them in their most flattering light.
- Don’t expect to take great shots at mid-day, when the overhead sun often washes out photos. The richest colours appear in the early morning and late afternoon sun.
2. To compose a great image, think “People, Places, Things” – all in one frame. The best trip photos aren’t that postcard-worthy shot of the Taj Mahal: we’ve all seen that image countless times. The best photo is the one that will capture what the moment meant to you. So, for instance, when you’re taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower, place your kids in front of it, holding onto the bicycles you used to get there, with the lunchtime baguette in their basket.
3. Get close and fill your frame. Whatever the focus of your photo is, make it reach from left to right in your viewfinder, without any superfluous space on either side. This trick really makes the details of your subject pop, amplifying it to a viewer.
4. Alternatively, try composing an image where the predictable subject is off-centre. Your children are scampering on the steps of Sacre Coeur – let them take up 2/3 of the photo, while the Basilica peaks over their shoulders at the side of the frame.
5. Think beyond the landmarks. Often the most evocative memories are the quiet moments at a sidewalk café, a market stall overflowing with fresh peaches, or the charming storefront you pass on the way to the museum. Don’t save your camera for the big monuments alone.
6. Pass the camera around. Different people in your travel group will see places in different ways, offering fresh perspectives to your images. Plus, it means you’ll actually get to be in some of them!
7. Throw some movement into your pictures. A cyclist going by in a blur, or children running away from the lens and towards your subject can add interesting contrast and life to an otherwise static scene.
All this being said, unless you’re a professional photographer, perhaps the most important piece of advice to remember is that you don’t have to record everything! Take time to soak up your travel experiences with all your senses, and don’t be a slave to your digital devices. The camera should help to enhance your travel memories, but don’t let it become a barrier to creating them!
Several of our guides are also avid photographers, and will help you get the most out of your camera on a walk through their cities. And of course in their company you’ve got a built-in photographer to take photos of you and your travel companions throughout your day.