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Holiday Photographs: Tips for creating wonderful photographic memories

When I run photography courses in person, I tend to get asked how do I choose what camera, lenses, accessories and camera bags to take with me on holiday.  Of course, I want to take everything and 23 different bags, but that isn’t always practical for one night stay!

Photography kit can be a mine-field that pulls us into a false sense of security that we won’t get “the” shot without every piece of equipment you have ever purchased.

One camera, one lens, a few spare memory cards and batteries is the best place to start for your holiday images – it doesn’t have to be complicated.

With that in mind, here is a blog to get you packed with the most important equipment for your break-away to Devon or Dubai and the top tips to capture the essence and personality of your holiday.

1) Start with the packing basics:

Where are you visiting and for how long?

I  have a few different camera bags suitable for different occasions.  My favourite two is one that looks like a clutch bag with a strap and a larger over the shoulder bag.  Both are designed for cameras and have padded protection, but both look like handbags.  Safety first.  The standard black canvas camera bags are fantastic for weather proofing and protection, but I would be inclined to pop that in a non identifiable bag to keep your precious camera safe.

The bag below is in fact a camera bag.  It is by a company called Kelly Moore and their unique point is that all of their camera bags look like handbags. I bought this in New York in 2015 and have used this bag constantly since then.

2) What equipment do I need?

Chances are you either have one trusty lens that came with your camera or you are the other type of photographer that wants every lens possible!

Having to change lenses is cumbersome and so is having to carry them around.  If you are away to photograph specifically, then of course, take your collection of lenses with you.  But, being limited to one lens is sometimes quite freeing and we have to move with our feet to get the shot we want.

One camera, one lens, a few memory cards and a few batteries should cover every eventuality.  If you have room for a little travel-sized tripod, then pop that in your bag too as nice for family photographs with the camera on timer and long exposures.

If you would like to take more than one lens, then here is a suggestion of great lenses to use:

A wideangle – average focal range 10-20mm – which means you can create almost panoramic images – huge buildings, sweeping landscapes and tall trees.  Great for almost a fish eye look to your images.  Note – not great for people images as makes them look short and round like a teapot!

A nifty fifty – focal range 50mm – the nifty fifty is the nickname for the 50mm f1.8 lens, it’s other nickname is the portrait lens.  This focal range of 50mm is fantastic for portraits, but pretty much any other subject too.  It is fairly zoomed in, so trying to get full size of images of people is difficult – you need to move back this lens is a prime lens and fixed at 50mm.

Standard kit lens – focal range 18-55mm – this is the lens that comes with your camera and really combines the two elements above – the 18mm end is nice and wide for landscapes and the 55mm end is great for getting things up close.  It is a good walk-about lens that you can zoom away with.

A telephoto zoom lens – average focal range 70-300mm – the telephoto lens is like an extension of the standard kit lens, in-fact if you are looking to upgrade your camera, some offers come with the camera,18055mm lens and the 70-300mm – the perfect starter kit.  This lens is ideal for reaching for away points on the horizon and wonderful for candid photos too.

Your kit may look a little different to the one below, but you can start to make your perfect little kit starting with your camera and the kit lens. Depending on what your photography preference is – landscapes, people etc – you can select your next upgrade lens.

3) Is there anything I need to buy?

Always take more than one memory card and more than one battery as these are the two elements that are likely to fail compared to the camera body or lens.  It is better to be safe and purchase a spare for whatever reason.

4) Getting to your destination

As a general rule of thumb, put your camera in your carry-on baggage, that way you can control the knocks and bumps it may have.  Most camera bags will come with thick padded compartments that you can move around with velcro to make fit your kit.  You can even purchase just the inner padded sections and place them in a handbag – great for protecting your camera and lenses.

5) What to photograph!

Everything!  Have a look at the images below for some of the areas that I focus on when on holiday:

Sweeping views of your environment.  Try to get up high for wonderful panoramic views that really tell the story of the blue sea, pebble beach and luscious green hills.  From the beach, it tells a completely different story and the water is the primary focus.  These would be ideal images for postcards – try to think about what you could photograph in a picture postcard style.

Find those personality points on holiday.  When in Beer, Devon; you can guarantee that everyone will take photographs of the boats.  Their vibrant colours against the softness of a cloudy sky and soft water makes them stand proud and contrasting. Photographing at different times of day will give you different looks, feels and exposures – it is your personal preference as to which look you prefer.

Don’t shy away from photographing at nighttime!  Once you understand long exposures and high ISO’s; you can create a whole range of atmospheric images that really tell the personality of your location.

Details, details, details.  It is always nice to have the sweeping, wide views of your landscape, but don’t forget to capture those details too.  Creating flower pictures reminds you of the time of year and what was in bloom.  A lovely reminder to your photo album.

Don’t forget to photograph your friends and family!  Capturing them candidly makes for great images that don’t just show the personality of the location, but the personality of them too!  Seeing your loved one in their element makes for treasured photographs.

Capturing food is also another great way to tell the story of your surroundings and a timely reminder of the yummy goodies you had!  Dripping ice-cream down their hands on the beach, the colourful paella by the sea and proper Italian pizza in the piazza are fun images to create! Also, great to study when you are back home to make again!

6) What to do when you get home

Make sure you back all of your images up on your computer and if you have an external hard drive, pop them on there too.  The newest way of backing up images is on a cloud based server such as Dropbox, Microsoft Drive and Apple iCloud are all free up to a certain amount of images.  If you are a seasoned snapper, you may need to start looking at purchasing additional storage online for your lovely photographs.

There are many different platforms to edit your photographs, start to play around with the basics such as exposure, contrast and vibrancy – the sky is the limit with the manipulation that you can do.  It doesn’t have to be all on Photoshop, the software the comes with your camera is perfect to do some editing.

After you have edited and saved all your images, what do you tend to do with your photographs?  A great way is to make books with your photos and continue to add to the library! You can also buy digital frames and upload images to it, a lovely reminder of your time away and great photographs you have taken!

I would love to see some of your photographs that you have taken on holiday and comment below with the equipment you took with you – were you happy with what you took and would you do anything differently next time? Feel free to leave a comment and follow us on Facebook and Instagram – links below.

If you need some help and support with your camera, come on one of our photography courses in Berkshire and Devon – https://www.summers-photography.co.uk/courses/

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