How to take better holiday pictures

Hurray! The summer holiday has started! Whether you will be spending time with family in the glorious UK weather or abroad, it is likely you will be taking some snapshots of the little ones or the whole family having a good time. You may however find that the abundance of sun in the summer may not give rise to the best photo results.

Here are a few tips to take better holiday photos, even when you are just using your mobile phone cameras:

Best weather conditions to take photos

While we naturally love bright sunny days, direct sunlight can make the subjects look harsh and cast strong shadows. While the strong shadows may work well for certain themes or create certain effects for the professionals and creatives, they are best to avoid for snapshots. When the sky is slightly overcast however, it is time to take out your camera and snap!

Taking photos at in overcast condition
Photo taken in overcast conditions

Best time in the day to take photos

Best lighting created by the colour and angle of the sunlight is around sunrise and sunset; the hours before sunrise and sunset are known as the "Golden Hours" for photography.

While it may not coincide with your holiday plans, as a general rule, I would say minimise taking photos at noon. Or alternatively, try to find a spot with shade where the background is darker than the foreground.

Photo taken at sunrise
Photo taken at sunrise

Why do I look dark in the photos while it is a bright day?

Many of you may come across this – it is seemingly a perfect day and you are at a scenic spot. You take a photo – the beach or the mountains in the backdrop look great, but the people in the subject just look dark with hardly recognisable faces!

This is what the photographers call backlighting. It is because the camera judges that there is abundance of light in the picture based on the light in the background. So the setting it defaults to allow for the background to be correctly captured, not the people.

To overcome this, choose a background that is less well-lit than the foreground (or in the outdoors, have the sun behind the camera holder rather than in front). An alternate trick is to turn on the flash for extra light on the subject.

Backlighting incorrectly lit
Faces being too dark when sun is shining into camera
Backlighting correctly lit
Correct exposure if light is measured correctly

How to capture fast moving subjects

If you have young children, you may wonder how you can capture their "in action" photos. I regret to advise that most of the time you cannot.

Professional photographers use faster cameras and specialised equipment to capture real time photos. Most camera phones and simpler cameras do have a time lag between you pressing the buttons and the photos being shot.

Hence it will be worthwhile to switch on the video mode instead if you want to capture your children’s super-fast movements!

Freezing actions in photos
Leave freezing actions on pictures to the pro!

Finally, if you are wondering about the pictures at the top of this article, they are photos taken of my family while holidaying in Sardinia using an underwater camera housing!

Happy holidays!

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