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Top 5 tips for taking better photos

Product Manager and keen photographer Chris Ellis gives his top 5 tips for taking the ultimate travel photographs.

1. Get the light right

Photography in its simplest form is capturing light. The trickiest part of photography is capturing that light successfully and getting the story you’re trying to tell.

It’s often easiest to shoot when the sun is behind you, but using side-light can make your subject ‘pop’ and create some dramatic effects. Or, if you have the skill or wish to experiment, try back-lighting your subjects to create silhouettes or give them an ethereal glow.

It’s not just angles to bear in mind with light but also the timing. Shooting in the harsh midday sun creates high contrasts, so it’s best to seek out the ‘golden hours’ around sunrise and sunset.

Getting up early you’ll not only beat the crowds, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful soft light or stick around till sunset and capture the changes in a scene as light is cast in amazing technicolour.

2. Learn the lingo

Take the time to learn a few words in the local language and you’ll go a long way. Not only is it polite to speak to/ask someone before you take their photo, it also puts your subject at ease, leading to a more natural shot.

You don’t want to alienate anybody so take the time to have a quick chat and it’ll make the whole experience more enriching. The best photos are those with a story to accompany them.

3. Take inspiration

Before heading anywhere new it’s best to get an idea of the places you’re going to, and the type of photos taken there. Check social media, blogs and photo journals to get a feel for the sort of photography available and the images that already exist.

Don’t copy, but get an idea of what to expect at each location - if it’s immediately recognisable you can set out to approach it in a different way. Look for a different angle, experiment with different compositions or play with the light.

Seek inspiration through other photographers, and then apply your own creativity and flair.

4. Preparation is key

Take time to learn your way around your camera’s buttons and features before you go. There’s nothing worse than a perfect photo opportunity being missed because your camera is on a strange setting. Take a little time to experiment with the settings and learn your way around your kit, and pay particular attention to the default functions for quick shots - you’ll save yourself a lot of heart ache.

It’s also a good idea to bring spare batteries and memory cards and make sure you re-charge and back-up your photos daily.

5. Be patient

Sit down. Observe. Soak up the scene. Chat to the locals. Get a feel for the atmosphere. Then, pick up your camera.

It’s easy to turn up and start snapping away at the obvious point of interest, but just taking five minutes to get a feel for the scene and the environment will yield far better shots. You’ll notice interesting little details, and pick up interesting stories from locals or discover a quirky angle.

Sometimes, you just have to wait for the opportunity to present itself. But when it does you’ll know it, and by taking your time and being prepared you’ll come away with some killer shots.

Discover our Beyond photography trips to try out these tips and explore some incredible locations in a new way.