Better pics: memories worth keeping.

Ever got back from your holiday, excitedly looking through your holiday snaps, only to realise that they don't look like what you remember? Perhaps the beautiful shot of your child playing on a tropical beach is somewhat blurry, blue or missing the emotion. Or the food you ate, you remember how yummy it was, but can't describe the fruit that you discovered to your inquiring family and friends. Or the fancy room, where you sit and watch palm silhouetted sunsets every night while sipping a Mojito. Everyone wants to see where you stayed, but your photos only show a snippet of the room and the view out of the window is so bright there is nothing to see. Or, you can see the view outside, but the room is too dark. And the colours don't reproduce as bright and vivid. It's disappointing. 

But here's the thing, you don't need to be a professional photographer to get photos that tell the story of your holiday and create the memories you want to treasure forever. 

Sit next to a window. During the day, light will filter in and give nice side or backlight to your plate of food. 
Try and keep it out of direct sunlight. 
Use a white napkin to direct light back into the shadow side of the plate.

Turn the flash off. 
Steady the camera on a tripod or lean camera on something as the shutter speed will be slow. If you hand-hold, the photo may be blurry from handshake.
Take a photo of the room and the view at the same time at night or sunrise/sunset when the light outside is not as bright.
Keep your camera straight - don't point up or down. 

Get in close to see the emotion. 
Don't pose them. Let them keep doing what they are doing. That way, you tell a story instead of getting a 'cheese'.
Turn them side on to the sun for some fun light. If they face the sun, they will squint, if they have the sun behind them, the camera will expose for the sun and make them dark.

Talk to people and get to know them before taking a picture. It will have more meaning.
Respect cultures. Don't take a photo if they don't want one taken.
Take wide shots and close-up shots. 

Sunrise and sunset are the 'sweet spots' for special light.
Use the 'rule of thirds' and compose the photograph with something of interest on one of the 'thirds' lines. 
Keep looking behind. It always looks different from another angle.

Don't forget to get the little details. Flowers on your bed, produce in the market, tuk-tuk interiors, worn pavers on the cobbled streets. Doors, windows, food, tickets. These all add to your holiday story and are easy to forget when returning home.
Detail photographs add interest to your slideshow or coffee table book. They turn a 'look at me' presentation into a story of adventure. It's more interesting for others to look at than 200 smiling pics of you in various locations.

And the biggest tip of all. Take your time. Think about what you want to say in your photo. Should the camera be horizontal or vertical? Should you get in close to the person or show what is around them? Is there a pole or tree growing out of someone's head? Look at your photo before pressing the shutter button and double check. Have fun - that's where the magic lies.

*This blog post is part of my entry to the Virgin Australia Top Travel Tips competition. #pbevent @virginaustralia *

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