How to take great travel photos

Most people regard their camera as a travel must-have, and photos are possibly the best memento of your trip. So how can you make the most of them?

If you are serious about taking great photos it is worth investing in a good camera and learning more about photography. But don’t despair if this is a bit much – fantastic photos can be taken on a cheap disposable or digital camera. It is more a case of being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to compose your shots. Put yourself in the place of someone who is going to look through your photo album – do the pictures speak for themselves or do they need long and boring stories attached to them?

Landmarks and scenery
The broad rule is this: unless the light quality is exceptional and you think you might be able to get an unusual angle on a well-known landmark, always include a person in the photo too. After all, you can look at good quality pictures of the Eiffel Tower or Maccu Piccu anywhere so a dodgy tourist shot will not do it justice. But get yourself or your travelling companion (or even better, both of you) in the shot and you have an instant “I was there!” souvenir. If it’s appropriate, you could also try having some fun with your landmark by altering the perspective of the shot so you could be leaning on Stonehenge or holding the Hollywood sign in your hands!

Be very wary if you are considering photographing government buildings, airfields, military settings or factories as you may be suspected of espionage and it could well lead to more trouble than the picture is worth.

Taking pictures of the locals gives a feeling of realism to the photos of your destination. But always ask permission first. In some areas your camera might arouse curiosity, and it is polite to let people see your camera and look through the viewfinder (always keep hold of the strap). Once everyone has had a turn, they will probably be much more relaxed about having their picture taken. Remember that in doing this you are taking something from people who may have very little, so be considerate.

If the picture you are taking is just of your family or group of friends, try different angles for the shot – on the ground looking up produces some interesting results! Don’t pose children in photos if you can help it; try getting close to them with the camera first, then call their name and take the picture as they turn around.

Festivals and events are wonderful photo opportunities – the mixture of colours and people enjoying themselves makes great photos and you can really capture the atmosphere if you get it right. The downside is you often end up with pictures of people’s heads. The way around this is to somehow get height. The best spots are often reserved for press photographers, but look out for café’s and hotels which have balconies overlooking the action. You could even try giving the camera to your children and sitting them on your shoulders. They will love it, and while most of the photos will probably be useless, they might get an absolute gem.

This is notoriously difficult for the untrained, but you might get lucky if you are patient. Let’s say for example you have seen a lizard on the balcony – approach it quietly from behind, and downwind if possible, making sure you do not cast a shadow over it, and use as much zoom as you can. If you see an animal running past you, follow it with the lens and click just as it passes you.

Lastly, if you are taking a camera of any value, check that it is sufficiently covered. This could be on your home contents insurance or your travel insurance. Keep the receipt for the camera and any parts and accessories, as you may need to produce these in the event of a claim.
24/7 travel insurance offers a valuables limit of up to £300 on its Premier Single Trip and Annual Multi-Trip policies and premiums start from under a fiver*.

*Premium £4.76 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a Standard single-trip policy for 3 days in Europe and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press and are subject to change.