How to take better holiday photos


Capture those magical holiday moments with these tips from Getaway’s Teagan Cunniffe using photographer Bruce Geils’ image of his daughter.

Also read: 5 pro photography tips


Bruce says…

Equipment Settings: Fujifilm X-T10, XF 18-55 f/2.8mm, f/4, ISO 640, 1/100 sec. Photo by Bruce Geils.

We moved to Swellendam in 2004 so that we could start a family and raise our children close to nature. We have two daughters now, and I’m always looking to capture their childhood naturally. We were walking in Marloth Nature Reserve when my eldest hopped across this little stream and lay down on the perfect mossy rocks, with the sun on the other side. I stayed put to fit the whole dreamy scene into the composition. For me, storytelling and waiting for the right moment are crucial. Find the best place to stand that will allow you to tell the story.


Take it yourself

Posed group shots have their place, but candid, personality-filled moments are more interesting. Here’s how to capture your own:


DSLR: Use a wide-angle lens (35mm and wider) to include environmental context. Compact A rugged, splashproof compact camera is my pick. It’s the perfect compromise between weight and quality, can be used by everyone and ts easily into a daypack.
Smartphone: Protect your device with a shockproof casing and tempered glass screen before you head out.


Play with aperture size – a narrow aperture (f/8 and smaller) will keep everything in focus, while a shallow aperture (f/4 and wider) will create ethereal bokeh. Avoid camera shake with a fast shutter speed (1/200 sec and faster) and use spot-metering to expose perfectly for faces.


Capture your kids or friends engaged in an activity such as reading a book, scampering over rocks or sleeping in a hammock. They will be at their most natural and least aware of the camera. Give environmental context by keeping your subject less than a fifth of the size of your frame. This will better show off the area around it.

Make it personal by including the things that your family love and want to remember in years to come. Bring on the dogs! Capture interactions with parents, friends or loved ones by anticipating genuine moments of connection.

Take advantage of the early morning light – it’s softer and more flattering for your pictures. Failing that, find shaded areas like Bruce has in this image.

Starter tip: Break the ice by letting your friends or family shoot, too. Bonus: you’ll be in some of the frames as well.

Amateur tip: Keep enough space between your subject and the edge of the frame by placing them on an intersecting line of thirds. You don’t want ‘cut off’ limbs and legs disappearing out the frame.

Pro tip: If you’re taking pictures of children, shoot from their perspective to show how they view the world from their own height.


This professional advice first appeared in the December 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

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The December issues features the Tok Tokkie Trail in Namibia (perfect if you dream of sleeping under the stars), 50 things to boost your summer holiday and our ultimate gear guide with the best travel gear, and much more!