Chinese New Year is around the corner. Half of your friends are travelling to hot holiday destinations. The other half are going home to welcome the Year of the Rat with family. All of them are going to be posting pictures of it in their social media feeds. Here are some simple tips for how to make your social media snapshot stand out among the rest.
1. Follow the Light
Photography is in essence capturing light, and having a basic understanding of how light behaves can help you take your photos to the next level. Bright overhead light casts harsh, unflattering shadows, creates excessive highlights, and makes people squint. Keep this in mind while snapping selfies on that sunny beach in the midday sun. One solution is to shoot in an area of relative shade. This can help to soften and diffuse the sunlight. Also, it may seem counterintuitive, but using your flashhelp to eliminate the harsh shadows from the sun. Better yet, avoid photographing people altogether in this kind of light. Use this time of day to get detail shots. Look for compelling patterns or textures and take tight close-up shots.
Instead, save the selfies and landscape shots for around sunrise and sunset, what photographers call “magic hour”. This is when the sun is closer to the horizon. Sunlight passes through more of the atmosphere, which filters out light from the blue end of the spectrum, leaving warm tones of orange and yellow. Shadows are softer and longer as well, allowing for lots of opportunities for appealing textures and dramatic effects.
2. Shoot from a Different Angle
By all means, snap plenty of pictures of the major attractions. After all, it’s the major attractions that make somewhere a destination in the first place. But before you press the shutter release, ask yourself, “Have I seen it from this angle before?” If your answer is “yes,” then that probably means the entire internet has, too. If you want your images to stand out, break the cycle. Resist the urge to snap your pics from where everybody else is crowding together with their cameras. Head in the opposite direction and see what rest of the crowd is missing. Use limitations to your advantage. Look at perceived obstructions as potential enhancements that frame your subject. You may be surprised what you come up with.
3. Avoid Photo Clichés
Does the internet really need another picture of you holding the hand of someone just off camera as you beckon them to follow you? No. How you in front of a beautiful vista with your back to the camera and your arms outstretched? No. Hot dog legs? Nope. Maybe a shot of the airplane wing as you’re touching down in paradise? Enough already! While we’re on the subject, please don’t post a picture of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We travel to have new experiences and to seek new inspirations. Let your photos reflect it. Instead of posed photography, try to take more candid pictures. Capturing your subject unguarded and fully in the moment can tell a compelling and authentic story.
4. Relish in the Ordinary
Monuments, mountains, beaches, and historical sites aren’t the only things that make a holiday destination special. It’s those ordinary, everyday sights that give a place its personality. It could be the cobblestones that pave the streets. Maybe it’s the signage in the subway system. Perhaps it’s the busker strumming his guitar in the park, or maybe it’s that pastry at the corner cafe you have every morning before you venture out for the day. These are all part of your story. Don’t leave them out!