Guest Post by Alexandra Baackes, travel blogger
Santorini is one of the most photogenic islands on the planet. Wouldn’t it be a shame not to make the most of it? Whether you’re trying to simply document your trip or take a creative journey too, these tips can help you make the most of your time spent behind the lens. Spice up your travel shots and bring back the most beloved souvenir of all – an album you’re proud to print and post.
Let Light Lead
There is no element more important to a great photo than light. Unless you are purposely creating a silhouette image, like the dark outline of a person facing a colorful sunset, make sure the sun is behind you when you shoot, lighting up your subject. The middle of the day, when the sun is high in the sky, is the worst time for photography – aim for the hours after sunrise or the hours before sunset. An early morning bonus? You’ll avoid the crowds.
Generally, unless you’re traveling with an off-camera flash, you’ll want to avoid using the one that comes on your camera – night shots are an exception, of course. If you’re nervous about using natural light, try the shot both ways.
If you’re trying to photograph a beautiful hand-lettered sign in Greek and there’s a couple poring over a map at the edge of it, wait for those people to pass. If you want to photograph the view from your hotel window but it’s overcast, wait for a clear morning. Popular places will require extra patience for the perfect shot, but the wait will be worth it. And if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – well don’t join so much as include them artfully in your photo. Sometimes showing the crowd tells the story!
The beauty is in the details
Anyone can buy or replicate a postcard of the Santorini caldera, or of the Oia sunset. But the little details that catch your eye are uniquely yours. Honing in on a street sign, a basket of fruit, or a beautiful architectural detail will bring depth and variety to your travel photos. Alternating sweeping panoramas with tightly focused close ups is key – think a broad beach vista followed by a creative close up of the sand. Look for patterns, shadows, and bursts of bright color.
When you look through your lens, think about how you can best frame your subject. Sometimes the answer is putting it evenly in the center of your shot, but rarely so. The rule of thirds is frequently touted in photography classes – picture your viewfinder overlaid with a nine-part grid and put your subject in one of the corners. In fact, this is a viewing mode you can turn on with iPhones and some point and shoots.
Set the scene.
You tell a story with your photos, and your trip was more than just the major attractions you saw during the day. Take photos of your friend peering over the railing of the ferry, of your feet dangling into the hotel pool, and of the bright umbrellas at the cute café where you had lunch. Not only do they give a richer picture of your trip, they will also be the ones that jog your memory and make you smile in the future.
Zoom with your feet.
Obviously, there will be some exceptions (that donkey might not let you get too close), but in general, don’t use the zoom function on your camera and walk close to your subject if needed. For iPhoneographers, this is the single most important photography tip – never zoom while taking a photo on an iPhone, rather, crop after the fact if necessary.
Show the human element.
That doesn’t mean simply having your roommate pose in front of a beautiful beach. The person doesn’t have to be identifiable, and it doesn’t even have to be a person. Maybe it’s a glass of wine in front of the sunset, maybe it’s your tour guide walking down the pier, maybe it’s your book and sunglasses on the sand. Too many nature shots or cityscapes get dull fast – viewers like to be able to picture themselves in the scene.
Speaking of people… take fun photos of your friends!
Again, try to step outside the typically posed group photo (you’re sure to end your trip with plenty of those.) Take candids, or get your group to loosen up by taking a photo of everyone jumping or telling a joke right before you press the shutter. Posed pictures are nice, but candids are the ones we tend to treasure.
Don’t sweat your equipment.
The best camera out there is the one you’ve got in your hands, whether it’s a dSLR or a smartphone. Read the manual, scan photography blogs, and make the most of what you’ve got. One thing you’re guaranteed to get out this trip? Practice, practice, practice. And that doesn’t make perfect – but it does make pretty great.
Alexandra Baackes is a travel writer and blogger with a passion for aquatic adventures. A New York native with a background in design, she’s spent the past three years living nomadically and sharing her stories of hopping across the globe. You can find her spilling secrets on Alex in Wanderland, talking sea creatures and security lines on Facebook, and posting photos of fried rice and festivals on Instagram.