1. Protect your camera!
When you're in a foreign country, you will automatically look like a tourist. Think about it, big backpack, tour book in hand, camera around your neck. You're bound to stick out like a sore thumb! That makes you a target for thieves, because they know you'll be too distracted with looking around that you won't notice if they sneakily take your wallet or camera. SO first rule of thumb is to keep your camera either around your neck if you have a DSLR, or around your wrist if you have a point and shoot!
2. Keep your camera on you at ALL times!
You never know when you'll see something that you want to take a picture of. If you always keep your camera in your bag, then you'll be wasting time trying to find it, and the really cool thing you just saw may have just disappeared around the corner. You'll regret it later on, so don't do it!
3. Memory cards.
You will end up taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos while on your trip. So it is very key to either have many memory cards, or to always save the photos on your laptop at the end of the day, and clear the memory card before you head out the next day. Buying memory cards with lots of storage is preferable. A 2GB card will only get you so far. Having at least 4GB is ideal. It is VERY important that you format your memory cards before you even start your trip. This will get rid of anything taking up space on your card, leaving more room for photos! To format the card, put it into your camera, go to the menu, and there should be a format option somewhere.
4. CHARGE THE BATTERY EVERY NIGHT.
It's nice to take pictures of your surroundings, but every so often you'll want to be in one of those pictures too. It's great to show your family and friends pictures with you in it when you get back home. Even if you're travelling with friends, you'll want to take some pictures with all of you in it at the same time, so here are some ways to take those pictures:
- ask someone else to take the picture. It's hard to trust anyone else with your camera, they could just take it and run. But just make sure you don't ask anyone who looks 'sketchy'. I know that's a bit judgemental, but you don't want to lose your camera in the middle of your trip. Try asking other tourists, particularly ones who also have a camera, because then they'll know how to use it. Tourists know that if they were in your shoes, they wouldn't want anyone taking their camera, so they're less likely to take yours. If there are no tourists around, try old people (although they may not know how to use a camera), and parents with children. ALSO, if someone else asks you to take a photo for them, ask them to take one of you after, they owe you a favour ;)
- use the timer function on your camera. If you can find a nice flat surface to set your camera on, get your friend to stand where you want to take the photo while you adjust the angle of the camera. Set the timer up, 5 seconds should be enough. Run beside your friend and smile for the camera :) Just be aware that if you do leave your camera out there, it's more vulnerable to people running by a taking it, so check your surroundings before you take the photo.
- SELFIES. I know its not the best option, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If you're using a point a shoot, make sure you stand on the left of your friends when you take the photo, because they button is on the left. If you're using a DSLR then hold it with two hands to avoid dropping it. This may take a couple of shots, and you may end up cutting off some heads and arms, but it will work eventually haha. Note that if you are taking a selfie photo, you won't capture as much of the background as you'd like to!
It's hard to say how to take an 'artistic' photo. The key things are lighting, focus, and perspective:
- Make sure that you have good lighting. You don't want it to be so dark that you can't see anything, and you don't want it to be so bright that it overpowers the photo. It takes practice, but eventually you'll get it. Don't forget you can always edit the photo on your laptop after to adjust the exposure.
- You don't want your photos to focus on the wrong things. One trick I use with point and shoot cameras is to put the thing you want to focus on in the middle of the frame first, hold the button down half way until it focuses, while keeping the button held halfway you can now adjust your camera and place the object where you want to, then push the button down the rest of the way to take the photo! When taking close-up photos, I like to use the macro mode (that's the mode with the flower symbol). It's great at making one thing in focus, and blurring out the rest of the background to make it look really professional.
- Be creative with the camera angles that you use. Straight on shots can be super boring. Try bending down lower and pointing your camera upward. Sometimes I even lie down on the ground (if it's clean enough) and take the shot from there. Experiment yourself with angles you like and don't be afraid to push the boundaries!
So those are all the tips I could think of! Just have fun with it and make sure you put the camera down every once in a while so you can take everything in with your own eyes :)
Editors' note: Comment or like if you want to hear more from Kay. :)