Holiday photographs allow your memories to live forever, capturing your experiences of the vivid, wild and wonderful world in which we live. However, photography abroad comes with its own unique challenges, such as respecting local people’s culture, catching the true feel of a place and avoiding tourist hot-spots. Here we take a look at the best ways to overcome these difficulties, as well as providing some useful techniques to produce amazing travel photos. With our advice in mind, your photographs will evoke memories for years to come, as well as providing great material to show off your holiday to friends and family!

Be careful what you photograph

Religious buildings are often majestic and beautiful settings, making them great subjects for holiday photos. However, it is always a good idea to first obtain permission before taking photographs inside holy buildings. This ensures that you cause the least possible disturbance to people’s worship. It is important when in mosques to note that you should never take photos during prayer times, or of people performing ablutions before their prayer. Generally the best policy is to take note from whether other people are taking photographs in religious buildings and to avoid using a flash in order to cause the least possible disruption.

Bagan, Myanmar holiday tours

Take the road less travelled

Whilst many tourist destinations are busy for a reason, you can often find the best photo opportunities when you explore the quieter spots in your chosen holiday location. With the help of tourist guides and sites such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, you will find hidden gems in any holiday destination, rather than battling through a crowd to get the same photo as everyone else. If you do decide to photograph particularly touristy locations, ensure that you visit at quieter times of the day to avoid large groups of tourists ruining your image, as well as allowing you the space and time necessary to take good photos. If you are a perfectionist, consider taking a bit of time away from the family to take your holiday snaps; this means that you can really focus on your images, rather than worrying about keeping people waiting.

Li river Yangshuo, China

Be careful who you photograph

In many places police, military personnel and security guards are very touchy about being on camera, so avoid photographing these groups as a general rule. When photographing any member of the public, ensure that they know and accept that you are doing so, this is particularly important when using local people as the main subject of your photos. Be wary of photographing people who are praying, as this can cause distraction and offense to worshippers from any religion.

Market on Vietnam tour


Take the right equipment on your trip

Depending on how far you expect to walk on your holiday, ensure that you don’t overload yourself with equipment. Instead take a camera which is lightweight enough for you to carry around everywhere you visit; you never know when a great photo opportunity could arise! Whilst your largest camera, tripod and various lenses may be perfect for capturing certain images, lugging them around all day could really spoil your experience of a place. Conversely, if you bring a low-resolution camera just for the sake of convenience, you could find yourself taking pictures which aren’t worth keeping. A great mix comes from a medium-sized DSLR camera, which will provide the perfect combination of quality and portability. Forward-thinking is also essential to planning your travel photography. Think about where you’re going before you get there; will it be bright, will you have to deal with rain or dull light situations? Answer these questions before you go and pack lenses accordingly; this will ensure that you capture the feel of a place perfectly on your trip, without overburdening yourself with unnecessary weight.

Myanmar fisherman in Burma

Capture the feel of a place

The way that you choose to photograph your holiday location can have a huge bearing on the quality of your photos. If you’re in a majestic setting like Dubai, try and get some perspective of the size of buildings or the beauty of a skyline by photographing from a low position looking up. It’s also a great idea to photograph cities at night time, when dull aspects fade into the backgrounds and beautiful buildings come to life. If your holiday location is vibrant and busy, capture this by taking photos of moving people; you could also try taking a sequence of photos to show the activity of a place. If you find interesting local foods, shops or objects, try taking close up photos on macro mode to truly immerse your images in the culture of a location. A general tip for travel photography is to shoot images in RAW rather than JPEG mode, as this essentially means using the full capabilities of your camera by shooting in the highest resolution possible. You can always convert images to lower-quality JPEG for your computer and printing use if necessary. If you take your holiday in a serene natural setting such as Vietnam or Malta, you could consider using a wide angle lens to capture the striking natural beauty of your location in a landscape photo. Using the time of day is another helpful tip when capturing the feel of a place; as a general rule, everywhere looks magical at dawn and dusk, so these are great times to shoot. It can be a challenge to battle with midday sun when photographing majestic sights like tall buildings and scenery, if you have to take photos at the brightest time of day, it’s helpful to shoot with the sun behind you, adding light to your photo.

Azure window Malta highlight

By ensuring that you respect people around the world with considerate and thoughtful travel photography, you will be given the time and acceptance you need to take your pictures. Follow our handy tips and advice and you will be able to overcome traditional photography difficulties and take great travel photos which you will cherish for years to come!


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