How to take the perfect holiday photo/selfie

Professional travel photographer Gemma Day has worked all over the world for clients ranging from The Sunday Times to British Airways. Here she gives us her top ten tips for taking the perfect holiday photo.

1. Tell a story

One way to create more engaging holiday photos is to tell the story of your trip from start to finish. Taking pictures at key moments, such as travelling from point A to point B, will help build a narrative of your journey and inspire you to photograph more unusual subjects. Consider photographing the contents of your suitcase before you leave and the view from your airplane window, as well as the people and places you encounter along the way. Then when you put together a photo album you will have the full story of your trip.

2. Set a theme

One way to get those creative juices flowing is to set yourself a theme. For example, on a holiday to Greece I decided I would photograph all the inflatables I saw on the beach. I still captured the beauty of the beach but added an extra dimension that made it more unique and personal to me, while giving a different twist to the typical beach view.

3. Change your point of view

Changing your camera’s point of view can dramatically alter the image that you take. Most photos are taken from eye level so getting high up or low down can be a great way of creating a more interesting and original composition. Alternatively, try walking around your subject or turning a corner to try to find a less obvious spot to take your shots from. Pause for a moment and look around – you may find an unexpected photo opportunity and discover a new perspective, showing a point of view people don't normally see.

4. Take plenty of pictures

The best way to improve your photography is to take a lot of photographs, trying different camera settings as you go. When you go through your pictures later you can see what type of shot works and what doesn’t. You will also become much more familiar with the workings of your camera. One of the advantages of digital photography is the ability to take hundreds of pictures without having to develop them all, so snap away.

5. Sweat the small stuff

Sometimes you get so blown away by the big picture that you completely overlook the details that sum up the atmosphere of a place. For instance, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is an amazing building, but focussing on a single mosaic detail may give the best impression of the workmanship involved in its creation. Textures can make pleasing detail shots, as can repeated patterns.

6. Reflections and shadows

Reflections can be incredibly beautiful and once you start looking for them, you’ll be surprised to discover that they are all around us. Some of the most beautiful reflections are found on the surface of water. Otherwise, you can find great reflections on any glass surface, on buildings, shiny cars, wet tarmac, ice or even your own sunglasses. Another thing to look out for are shadows, which give your images a different perspective and can be a far more interesting version of the beach selfie.

7. Selfies

If you really want to take a great selfie, there are a few tools you can use to improve the quality. The most obvious is a selfie stick – you may not look great holding it but your pictures will definitely benefit. A good selfie stick for the iPhone is the Apple Selfie Stick, which connects to your phone using Bluetooth, so there’s no annoying cable to plug in. If you have an Android phone, try using a picture app to polish up your picture. The best apps for selfies on Android include ‘B612 – Beauty & Filter Camera’ and ‘Retrica’, both of which have a fantastic range of filters and stickers.

8. Silhouettes

Silhouettes are a wonderful way to convey a bit of drama and mystery, and often stand out because of the combination of their simplicity and the story they tell. The best way to shoot a silhouette is to choose a subject with a strong and recognisable shape, then position your subject with the brightest light source behind them. The sun is an obvious strong light source and sunsets or sunrises are ideal to create a stunning silhouette.

9. Golden hour

One of the best time of day for landscape photography is the hour or so after sunrise and before sunset. This lower, warmer light is more flattering and unlike any other light, making it ideal for landscapes. The light is more diffuse when the sun is near the horizon, creating an even light and making shadows longer and softer. This helps show all three dimensions of the world.

10. Wait!

A very simple way to make your photographs stand out is to literally wait for something to happen. Compose your scene then wait for the right element to come into it. It can be fun to have a wish list – a man on a bicycle, some goats, llamas. Think what would be the perfect extra element to your shot and sometimes you’ll be rewarded with exactly that!

Inspired by Gemma’s photography tips? Check out Club Med’s worldwide locations to get the creative juices flowing.

To see more of Gemma’s work go to her website.

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