How to Take the Perfect Holiday Snap

POSTED BY Mavy | April 9, 2015
Label: Travel Tips

Gone are the days when you needed a mighty DSLR to take drool-worthy images. With sophisticated compact cameras and also our smartphones, any amateur with decent artistic skills can be a good travel photographer.


Holidays are the perfect time to take pictures. Even someone who’s not into photography would reach out and be part of group pictures and creative photoshoots. With the holiday season not too far away, now is the right time to start honing your photo-shooting skills so you can have Instagram-worthy pictures.

Don’t wait till you get to your vacation spot to operate your camera, get acquainted with its features, and learn the tricks of the trade. Do your homework at home. Keep clicking till you are confident about your travel photography skills.

If you need help, we have the perfect guide on how to take amazing travel photos.

Avoid the afternoons – early mornings and late evenings are your best bet.

A good picture has a lot to do with good lighting. Outdoor photoshoots, in particular, are largely dependent on the quality of sunlight. The harsh afternoon light can create unflattering sharp shadows. On the contrary, when the sun is low on the horizon, the light is softer and the hues complement your image.

Unexpected weather conditions such as a cloudy evening after a dry sunny day or a rainy morning can create dramatic colours in the sky that are seldom repeated. When it happens, get out there with your camera and shoot away. Don’t ever miss out on sunrises and sunsets.

Make sure you capture most of your images during this “golden time”. Reserve your afternoons to sightseeing and spending quality time with your travel entourage.

Invest in a polarizing filter.

Ever wonder how the pros manage to always shoot sharp and clear images? The way their colours are always so strong and rich? The way their skies look so blue? Why aren’t their snaps ever blurred? The magic lies in the polarizing filter!

Basically, what the polarizing filter does is remove light reflections from the photograph. Reflections could occur due to dust, water vapour, and other particles in the air. A polarizer, when oriented 90 degrees to sunlight provides a clearer image, with saturated colours, making the subject look sharp and beautiful.

Night time is the perfect opportunity for glitzy photos.

City skylines, important landmarks, popular vantage points, celebrations and festivities – no matter what you choose to capture, trust the night-light to add a spark to your image. Not only will you have electrifying lights, but also unsightly details such as construction site cranes, ugly buildings, and cables will be eliminated from your picture.

A few popular subjects to shoot at night would be fountains (usually with dazzling light displays), cathedrals, bridges on rivers, huge monuments, trees decorated with colourful bulbs, and city lights. You might want to get on a vantage point to shoot the skyline.

Remember to use the polarizing filter. Also, shoot in the auto-flash mode.

Attempt to tell a story – a unique story.

Shooting the Taj Mahal? Meh!

Shooting people with cigars in Cuba? Been there, done that!

How about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco?

Or the Eiffel Tower in Paris?


Mind you, there is nothing wrong with travel photographers taking clichéd images of touristy spots. But when they stick to the tried-and-tested monuments and do not experiment at all, it could be a huge mistake. Especially for photographers who are budding travel bloggers. Or basically any traveller looking for awesome photos.

Tell us a story with your pictures. Take the road less travelled. Include dramatic close-ups. Go to the hills and the waterfalls, hike around and search for new vantage points. Play with the light and the colours. If you insist on photographing the timeless landmarks of the destination, use a creative angle.

For example, take a picture of the Taj from the opposite bank of the Yamuna. The Golden Gate looks awesome from the Bakers Spencer - try shooting it through a fog.

Be creative. Be zingy. Give us your perspective of the iconic monuments and watch your friends at home drool!

Colours are cool. Bright colours are brilliant.


Oftentimes, the best of photographs have just one or two colours that are bright and dominate the frame. Lock in on a bright bold colour, such as a red building, and use it against a pale white/blue backdrop. You could add several variations of red, as long as you are not overdoing it. The key is to simplify the image composition as much as possible.

Don’t always stick to bright colours. Pink, blue, green, and other light shades can be powerful as well. It’s always good to have one subject, one colour (or two, to the maximum) dominate your picture.

Having more than one subject or a very strong backdrop against a meek subject is a surefire way of creating a messy image.

Some more travel photography tips:

Candid photos are awesome.

Group photos, where everyone stands stiffly with a plastic smile, are always uncomfortable! The key is to click when everyone’s chatty, happy, comfortable, and having a good time. A good family photo captures the positive warm vibe of the group, and that is what you should aim to do.

You don’t really need people to be standing in a straight line. It’s okay if a few of them aren’t looking into the camera (as long as they’re looking at each other). If there are genuine smiles all around, you can set the camera rolling and get some amazing pictures for your Christmas card cover!

Learn how to eliminate tourists from your pictures.

If you’re tired of having tourists spoil your perfect holiday photography of the Grand Canyon or the Acropolis in Athens, its time you learn how to edit your images and eliminate unnecessary details. Online editing services like the clone tool, where you “paint” over the people with colours from the photograph, or the photo-stacking tool, where you shoot multiple photos of a landmark and run them in succession to eliminate the people in the photo, saving the backdrop, are good options to consider.

Research is critical.


Ideally you should know exactly why you’re visiting the destination, what are the popular vantage points, the sunrise and sunset timings, and a list of the most photographed landmarks, before your begin your vacation.

A few tips on how to find the most photogenic locations are:

- Look for locally available postcards. They usually contain the lesser known attractions of a place.

- Google Earth is a great tool for you to get a feel for the place. Use it to discover untouched vantage points and interesting locations.

- Geocaching websites (family treasure hunting game sites) often have hidden destinations that very few people know about. Usually they are marvellous spots for photography.

- Befriend the locals. They will usually give you an insider’s view on the best places in a city to click pictures.

Important Tip:

After you’re done with clicking fantastic images, do not stop at that. Go ahead and select the best ones and have it on display. Perhaps, you could start a blog. Or enter a traveller photography contest. Sharpen your skills for your next adventure.

Don’t forget to share your pictures and experiences with us. If you are a seasoned photographer, and have advice, we’d love to hear from you too.

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