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Holiday Photos: How To Capture Magical Moments

Simple tips for creating beautiful shots with any phone or camera.

28/09/2017 11:15 | Updated 28 September 2017

British Airways Holidays sent lifestyle blogger Julia Smith of Humphrey & Grace (and her daughter) back to Crete, the location of an unforgettable holiday moment from Julia’s past. She created this stunning photo series about their time away and here shares her best advice to help you capture magical holiday moments like these for yourself.

Holidays often see us at our best don’t they? We relax. We explore. We spend quality time with our loved ones. By following just a few simple steps, you can make the most of capturing holiday moments and keep these memories safe in pictures. Because who doesn’t love a vicarious escape at a later date, when looking back through the moments you captured?

  • Think about composition
    Julia Smith
    Take a couple of seconds, make sure your lens is clean - especially if you are using the camera on your phone which will pick up dirt and fingerprints quickly.

    Have a think about how to compose your photographs. One of the simplest ways to create great compositions is to use the rule of thirds. Imagine your frame is divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. By framing your points of interest (horizons, buildings, people etc) along these lines or at the intersections of them, your photographs will be immediately more visually appealing. In the case of this quaint back street scene in the mountain village of Kritsia, the frame is divided vertically into thirds using the walls of the passageway.

    Get your horizons straight. It’s easy enough to hold your camera horizontally and if you miscalculate slightly you can fix it with editing, but do try and keep your horizons straight. I know it sounds simple but a photograph makes more sense to the eye if it is at the right angle. In this shot, the floor of the mysterious little doorway through the passage and the bottom frame of the blue doorway are exactly horizontal!
  • Use the light
    Julia Smith
    Light is a photographer's best friend, once you learn to use it to your advantage. Indeed there are certain times of day when the light is kinder, namely the first few hours of daylight in the morning and the last few before sunset. So use them if you can!

    But the moments we want to capture don’t always happen at these times so how can we make the most of what light there is?

    The easiest way to take a great photo in bright sunlight is to use the shade. Clouds are the best way of filtering the sun, if you can, wait for one to pass in front of the sun before taking your photo. But what if there are no clouds to be seen…?

    Well, try and find a tree or a building that is casting a shadow - even a parasol will do the trick. If you are photographing people, face them away from the sun. This way they will not have to deal with harsh light in their eyes - inevitably it will lead to a more relaxed expression if they aren’t having to close their eyes against the brightness - that’s what did the trick in capturing the sweet expression on my little girl’s face in this relaxed holiday portrait.
  • Shield your lens
    Julia Smith
    If you find yourself facing into the sun to take a photo and don’t happen to have a lens hood handy (as most of us don’t), use your hand to shield the camera lens. This trick helped me to capture this stunning shot of the Cretan coast on a super-bright and cloudless day. You may have to move your hand around a little to make sure the lens is in the shadow cast by your hand while at the same time keeping your hand out of the frame, but it’s worth it. You’ll minimise sun flare in your photograph and the subjects will be clearer.
  • Photograph the moments in-between
    Julia Smith
    Posed photos are great, smiling for the camera and all. But don’t overlook the uncontrived moments in-between. Often the best moment is just before or after the one you think you want. Take more than one photo. Start photographing before you indicate you will. Keep taking photographs as your subjects relax.

    Another way to capture candid moments is to be a little covert with your camera. Stand back and observe, take photos of the incidental moments, like this candid shot captured as my barefoot little girl climbed a tree at the beach by our hotel. So engrossed in the task at hand she was, she barely noticed me taking the shot.
  • Set the holiday scene
    Julia Smith
    Build a story through your photographs. Everyone loves a photograph of people enjoying a break, yes, so why not go a step further and create a set of photographs that capture the feel of the whole holiday too?
    Consider photographing the scenery, the buildings, the plant life. Any little detail that catches your eye or will remind you of your stay. This shot of the tumbling bougainvillea in full bloom will always take me back to the hot, sunny afternoon we spend exploring the village of Kritsia.

    Take photos of the places you spend your time. Early mornings are usually best for quiet scenes, before the bustle of the day really begins, with the added advantage of the best light too. It is a great time to capture most places without many people in the frame.

If you’re thinking of booking a break with your partner or the whole family, you should know that British Airways Holidays takes the stress out of planning, booking and going on holiday, from start to finish. British Airways Holidays never forgets that your holiday is something you never forget.

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