5 Simple Steps to Taking Great Photos

Published on: June 08, 2014

Ever wished you could freeze those precious moments with your family? Now you can…and no, you don’t have to hire a professional photographer.

Words and photos by Simon Elwell


There is only one thing better than taking a great photo of your family holiday to share on Facebook, and that is taking a photo so great, you want to frame it on your wall at home.

It is true that a good camera and great lens can help you shoot like a pro, but with today’s technology you don’t need something expensive or top of the range to get a brilliant shot.

Learn a few easy tricks and before you know it you’ll be taking photos that will have your friends saying, “wow! – who took that?”

…start shooting before they say cheese and keep shooting afterwards!

But, first things first, there’s one golden rule: Where is your camera?

If it isn’t in your hand or right next to you then you’ll only come home with half the shots you could have had.

Just remember, the world doesn’t have to stop every time you take a picture. Keep it simple, stop asking people to pose for you, and everyone will enjoy looking at the memories you’ve captured.

“It’s a shame about that pole”

Learn to look through your viewfinder (or at the LCD screen) differently.  Check the whole scene, not just the thing that you are taking the photo of.

Watch out for power lines, bright lights, or odd shapes and shadows. If you can’t move your subject then don’t be afraid to move yourself.

Sometimes the best shot is taken from just two feet to your right or left. Next time, move around to check the difference.


Get close, but not too close

In most cases, your subject matter should fill the photo. But don’t lose sight of the surroundings; it’s nice to include a little context to support the holiday theme. It can be as simple as including a coconut tree in the shot or the rest of the family in the background.

To avoid the photo looking posed try taking the shot from an unusual angle. Get down low, or jump up on a wall. Most people just stand and shoot.

If you want your pictures to have an edge don’t just walk up and shoot from where everyone else would.


Make your picture one in a hundred

With everything being digital these days, don’t hesitate to keep pushing the button.

Especially if children are involved, start shooting before they say cheese and keep shooting afterwards! It’s easy to delete the ones that haven’t worked and sometimes it’s surprising which ones turn out to be the best.

But don’t try to select the best shot from the LCD on your camera. Always wait until you are looking at them on the computer screen where you can see clearly to compare images properly.

I always remove all of my shots off the card into a folder titled for the holiday, and then within that, I have a ‘best’ file.


Pick a color

Keep an eye out for interesting color combinations, or even startling color clashes. Look for bright colors within or against a bland background.

Try to practice spotting details even when you don’t have your camera, you can quickly train yourself to think like a photographer.

Because we are used to seeing so many colors at once, a photo that has only two or three colors is often appealing to the eye.


Get amongst it!

Always look for an opportunity to get in the shot too! It is so sad when you look back through holiday albums and it doesn’t appear that you were actually there!

However, if you are choosing a stranger to take a shot for you, be aware that people who can’t figure out which button to push are never going to take a good photo for you.

Ask the tourist with the fancy camera. They can usually take one which won’t cut off the top of your head!

But the most important part: lose the pose! Let them capture you enjoying your holiday.


All photos courtesy of Simon Elwell

About the Author

Simon was born in New Zealand, married in South Africa, and has traveled to over 26 different countries in between. The greatest treasures in his life are his wife, daughter, friends, and family. Simon contributed his photography to the Classroom of Hope. You can see Simon’s photography at www.bangkokprojects.wordpress.com and www.years2come.com.

The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.

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