You don’t need to be a professional or own a cutting edge DSLR camera to come away from your vacation with photographs you can be proud of. A few simple tips and tricks can help a basic point and shoot model become a picture-taking force to be reckoned with.
Stay aware of your frame
When you’re taking a picture, you shouldn’t just pay attention to your subject. That’s a surefire recipe for winding up with a distracting element in the frame – be it a stray tree branch, a car, or the edge of your finger as it slips over the lens. Before you press that shutter button, take an extra moment and move your eye all the way around the frame. Is there anything in the way? This can be easier to do from the viewfinder, so you should only use the display screen on your camera if it’s your only option.
Timing is everything
When going on a sightseeing spree, try to time it for the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky and casts long shadows, not to mention an attractive glow over everything you see. High noon is the worst time of day to take pictures as the shorter shadows can create an unflattering light for your subjects.
The Rule of Thirds
This pillar of Photography 101 will forever change the way you think about your pictures’ composition. When framing a shot, imagine the scene split into thirds. They can be vertical, horizontal, or both. Some cameras may even have a tool to place a grid over the scene for you. Place points of interest in your photo along those grid lines, or at the spots where the lines intersect, to make them stand out in the final product. You’ll wind up with a much more dynamic and interesting photo than a simple centered subject.
Mix it up
Pay close attention to what subjects you choose. If you find yourself photographing nothing but a bunch of buildings on a walking tour, hand the camera over to a companion and pose for a few shots yourself. Traveling with the family and have a ton of stiff, posed portraits on your memory card? Give the kids a break and hang back from the group for a while to capture candid moments. Having a wide variety of subjects will make for a far more interesting series of vacation photos to share with friends and family.
Most importantly, a good photographer is a patient photographer. You may not always capture the exact shot you want on the first try. If you don’t have time to wait an extra minute for that bus to pass by, for that animal on the nature hike to turn its head, or for the sun to come out from behind the clouds, you’ve probably packed too much activity into your day. Very often, taking postcard worthy photographs is just a matter of waiting and trying again.