With the holidays just around the corner, many of us will be toting our cameras as we set off on holiday, keen to preserve some precious family moments for posterity. What often happens, however, is that you end up with a stack of blurry, out-of-focus pictures that fail to do justice to the moment. Whether you take a smartphone or DSLR, here are a few simple tips to make your photos memories to treasure.
1.) Get down to eye level with the kids
Family holiday photos of the kids are a must: it’s so funny and poignant to see how they grow and change each year. Remember to get down on eye level when photographing children. The temptation is usually to photograph children from your adult eye level, but this often means the pictures are unflattering, cold and distant. It can feel a bit strange to get down on the floor at eye level with your four-year-old, but the results will be worth it. Putting yourself physically at the same level as the kids offers a much more interesting view of their world, and makes for photos that are far more personal and memorable.
2.) Adjust the ISO setting instead of using the flash
If you leave your camera in Automatic mode, you might notice the flash going off all the time resulting in washed-out colours and unnatural shadows across people’s faces. Try to disable the flash, though, and your photos will often come out blurry and out of focus. To fix this, you can set your camera to Program mode instead of Auto, which will give you more control over the ISO setting and give you better shots in low-light conditions (ie indoors) without using the flash. The higher you set your ISO, the less light your camera needs to take a photo. This is nice if you want to avoid blinding people with your flash, but the trade-off is that your pictures might look noisy or grainy. Fortunately, most modern cameras do a fine job even at ISO settings as high as 3200 or even 6400 – particularly if you just want to share the photos online or print at smaller sizes like 4×6.It’s a good idea to practice adjusting the ISO setting before you head off on holiday. The pay off will be much better holiday photos and the added bonus of not blinding your family or having to deal with red-eye correction later on.
3.) Shoot moments not poses
Resist the temptation to issue orders such as ‘smile’, ‘look at the camera’ and ‘say cheese’. Try being discreet instead and aim to shoot moments rather than poses. Capturing the essence of what people are doing – talking, laughing, opening presents, sharing a drink – often makes for much more interesting photos and better mementos in years to come.
4.) Know when to put your camera down
Remember to actually experience your holiday, not just run round manically trying to record it for posterity. Try taking just a handful of photos and use the rest of your time to simply be with your family and, as they say, enjoy the moment together. Be intentional when taking fewer photos, and the result will be more keepers that you want to look at years down the road instead of dozens and dozens of images of the same scene.
5.) Compose creatively and move in closeWhether you are photographing family members or places of interest on your holiday, go creative with your composition. This means paying special attention to how you organise the various elements in each photo.Try off-centering your main subject and try to balance our main subject in the foreground with something of interest in the background. Just move your camera around until you find a framing you like. Moving in close on your subject is the one thing that will make the biggest difference in the success of your picture-taking. The simple fact is that photos are always more impressive when the subject is huge and impossible to miss.
6.) Take lots of shots for family group photosThe one occasion when you should ignore the less-is-more-when-you’re-on-holiday tip is when you are photographing a group of friends or family. This is when you absolutely must take a lot of photos. Since there is always someone blinking or looking off to the side or facing another member of the group, having a large number of photos gives you the best chances of catching everyone looking their best.
7.) Use flash outdoorsMost people think their flash should only come out indoors and at night. However, flash can be a big help when it comes to shooting outdoors during the day. Even in bright sunlight, forcing your flash to fire can mean the difference between a so-so snapshot and keep forever photograph. The reason is that the flash will fill in the shadows and even out harsh contrasts.
For more information about Family Holidays at Bedruthan, take a look at our Family Holiday pages.