Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Tips On Photographing People On Holiday

Here are some handy tips and tricks for photographing people on holiday.

| Portraits and People
Tips On Photographing People On Holiday: People on Holiday 1

Taking photographs when you’re travelling is often a challenge as there’s usually so much to capture and so little time. This is especially true when you’re focusing on portrait photography and want to create exciting images of friends, family and locals in environments that are new to you.

From a single subject to group shots immersed in the landscape, there's an advanced element to photographing people abroad as you try to capture their personality, as well as say something meaningful about the destination.

Most photographers have their own tricks, and here are a few tips to make sure your memories are secured long into the future.

With so much technology, you can choose the best equipment to meet your requirements.
  • Smartphone – You don’t always have to worry about the number of megapixels and which filter to use as mobiles are great for taking shots on the go. The majority have a decent amount of memory space, so you can take as many as you want and make decisions later using editing software. They’re perfect for intimate images too, as people are less afraid of close-ups when the equipment isn’t as in your face and off-putting as larger lensed cameras.
  • Digital point-and-shoot – Great if you’re dealing with changing light conditions and also excited subjects that won’t stand still, as there’s less chance of blurred results. Best bit is if you get a photo of your family you really love, the high quality allows you to enlarge it to display on your wall.
  • DLSR – The right choice if you’re aiming for excellence and want lots of technical choice. If you’re travelling with young children, you’re bound to capture precious moments, so going for a quality camera that’ll let you get creative is recommended.
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How do you make it stand out from typical photos taken back home? Well, off-centring your subjects is a good start as it’s more interesting on the eye. Make sure you try out some different angles too, try shooting up with them looking down at the camera. You should also look to try out different angles; shoot up with them looking down at the camera. With both of these in play, be careful to border your subjects with just enough space all around – so avoid lots of empty space in one corner of the image for example, as it’ll draw attention away from your subject.

If you want to try something different, don’t photograph your subjects head on, instead ask them to look off to one side, or even get them with their backs facing the camera. These artier techniques will add gravitas, which will suit some locations, such as ancient Peru.

Depth of Field
When you’ve got subjects in front of a great view and they’re looking happy, you’ll need to make a decision on your depth of field, and likely, experiment on the spot. First, see how it looks with a small aperture opening, which will make your surroundings focused, then try a few shots where the setting is wide-open, making the background blurred. Both are good, but when your emphasis is on the people and documenting their activities, the latter is better as the background won’t deflect from their personalities. You’ll probably still want a couple of images with the view in focus; the beauty of travelling is seeing things and capturing them with your own style – go for this technique when you want the image to say 'we were here and it was beautiful!'

One extra tip is to make sure your subjects are more or less the same distance away from your lens – this ensures everyone will be in focus, rather than having someone lose out in having their holiday fun preserved with a blurred profile.

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Using a Timer
Timers can be quite stressful but do give you the option of being in group images yourself, when no one else is free to take the photo. They’re perfect in this instance and you’ll also want images to share of yourself from your travels.

If you’re using a DLSR, position it on a tripod, check your composition and settings and when everything is in place, set the timer and take your place in the frame. There’s a risk of running to get there in time, so instead, give yourself twenty or so seconds on the timer, so you have long enough to get comfortable and most importantly, smile! If you have the option, get your camera to take multiple shots as it does take time to set-up and you want the right result.

For the really tech-savvy, there are even apps that let you take your place in the photo, and on your smartphone’s screen you can see what your camera is seeing; when you’re happy, you can then hit shoot on your phone to save the image. Viewing the results in real-time is such a bonus and it’ll make your life a lot easier when travelling, but first, test out how it works before you leave, so no time is wasted on the road.

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Case Study: Marbella
Here are some beautiful places where you can photograph people in Marbella and tips on how to get it right.

Juanar Viewpoint
Behind the city of Marbella is the Sierra Blanca mountain range, full of oak and pine trees in addition to colourful flowers such as orchids – great if you’re also into wildlife photography and are keen to get some close-ups. However, to photograph your friends and family, head to Juanar viewpoint; it’s a moderate hike but well sign-posted which offers panoramic views of Marbella. Get your subjects to stand to the left (off-centre) of the frame and try out a small aperture setting so the background will be blurred. This photo is all about the hiking achievement, so you can afford to highlight the group over the scene.

Puerto Banus Harbour
Just along the coast from Marbella’s city centre is the world famous Puerto Banus harbour, where you’ll want to capture a group photo of everyone stood in front of the impressive yachts. As a focal point of local life, it’s a hub of activity, so you can capture a lot of excitement and energy. Be careful of trying to fit too much into the frame, as this can distract the focus of the viewer. After you’ve made sure everyone is smiling, leave your tripod and camera behind to take your place centre-stage. This could also be a fun chance to take a quick snap on your smartphone to share with your friends back home.

Whilst taking images of people on holiday can be daunting, always remember that personality should be at the heart of these images. For the most part, if you let the subject get comfortable and you’ve picked a stunning location, you’ll both be happy with the end result.

If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at where else you can go in Spain’s southern city of Marbella, where natural and manmade backdrops make for both planned and spontaneous photo opportunities.

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