Travel: 18 Tips For Taking Great Holiday Photos

Railway by night. Photography by Mutua Matheka. Image from

When you go on holiday you could lose the souvenirs that you buy but if you take the right shots you will be able to preserve some of the memories forever. Travel photos are a great way to transport you back to the places you have travelled to and evoke the good times you had. Here are a few tips on how you can do this.

Beautiful Vietnam. Image from

1. You don’t need a fancy camera to take some good pictures. You can use the one on your smartphone but if you would like to get some sharp images with better quality invest in a camera. You can get a camera that’s compact, easy to travel with, one that can zoom in and out. If it is important to you get a camera with WI-FI capability so that you can share your pictures on social media.

2. Before taking that trip note down the places you would like to go and create a list of the images you would like to get on your trip. A shot list will help you make sure you don’t miss any shots that you really want. Also include the time of day, so that you know what shots you need at sunrise or sunset. It is good to have a list of 10 -20 desirable shots, but also give room for shots for the unexpected.

Nairobi nights. Photography by Mutua Matheka. Image from

3. A great way to show off a destination is going for Sunrise and Sunset shots. Sunrise shots are good because there are usually limited crowds and you are likely to get a good shot of a place with little clutter. Sunset shot, allow you an opportunity to reflect the pulse of your destination and make the shot come alive. Travel photographer Natalie Amrossi says for an interesting contrast, get both sunrise and sunset pictures at the same location.

4. Be spontaneous as well, not everything has to go according to script. Planning is good, but you also need to capture the things that appeal to you while exploring, like a pretty cat outside a doorway or the locals at the local eating place.

5. Experiment with angles, viewing popular destinations from both aerial and low perspectives. This can create unique images and you can take videos and stills for more variety.

Nairobi skyline by Mutua Matheka. Image from

6. Carry extra media cards. You don’t want to have to delete images or video clips to make space for new ones in the middle of your holiday.

7. Do your research on the location if you are not familiar with it, but also ask the locals whether there are any places to check out. If you are travelling with family or friends, and you have maps or guidebooks, take a picture with the maps spread out, as a starting holiday image capture. Even if you don’t you can do a selfie or have somebody take a photo of all of you.

People having fun dancing. Image from

8. Take candid shots of people having fun during the holiday. It is a great way to capture expressions and moments (posed photos can have awkward expressions).

9. Take pictures of signage so that it is easy for you to remember where you were for a specific photo or video.

10. When taking pictures, zoom in on the details and fill the frame with your entire subject, like a basket of fruits, or a close up of the vegetable sellers. Also take shots of your food. This can help you remember the delicacies you enjoyed on your holiday.

11. Take different photos for variety, you can zoom in for photos that focus on one subject or take wide establishing shots that show the whole scene. This tells a more complete story.

12. Don’t stay behind the camera and miss out in the pictures. Pass the camera around and have others take pictures and videos of you having fun too.

13. Take a moment to line up your shots so that you can get the perfect shot. It will pay off. Don’t get so lost in the shots that you forget to focus on the beauty around you. Its not worth it to take pictures that other people enjoy but we forget to enjoy the moment. Focus on the magic of the moment, don’t just capture it.

Railway by night. Photography by Mutua Matheka. Image from

14. Break the rules. The rules talk about the rule of thirds when framing pictures, but don’t be bound by that, try a new angle you wouldn’t normally try.

15. Don’t forget to take some group shots or videos, it’s a great way of showing the fun you were having together and is a priceless addition to your photo album. Its also a great way of keeping track of who was with you on which holiday.

16. Don’t get caught up in doing beautiful landscapes, focus on individual people too. A great way is to frame people with a beautiful landscapes for a timeless moment.

Rusinga Festival dancers leading people to the lake. Image credit Antony Ochieng

17. If you are traveling alone and do not have friends or family to be the focus of your shots, why not use an object to document the journey. It can be a toy, stuffed animal, jewelry, a shoe etc. You can photograph them in various shots and this is a fun alternative to a million selfies. This reminds me of a lady who is paid to take toys on vacation, the owners of the toys are unable to travel, so they pay the lady money to take their toys on vacation and document the trips.

18. You can use apps to enhance photos. Apps like 360 Panorama gives your photos an entirely different perspective. There are apps for time lapses, etc.

I got some of the tips from this article from the New York Times and this article on photo tips from Nikon.

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Managing editor and blogger at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]