Often when we think about travel photography, the first image which comes to mind is that of someone walking around with their high end DSLR and their expensive lens.  Thankfully you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on high end equipment to take good travel photos.

In this post we will be focusing on how to take good photos with a compact camera.

How you compose your photo is more important than what equipment you are using.  Yes there are things that a high end DSLR can do that a compact camera can’t. If you understand what your camera can and can’t do then you will be able to take good travel photos.

Here are my 5 top tips for taking a good photo, and as you will see the common theme is how you compose the photo.

How to take good photos with a compact camera

1)  Keep the camera stable

Your compact camera will usually need more light to take a photo due to the sensor size than a DSLR.  This will mean that the camera will be looking to use a slower shutter speed.  This means you will want to provide as stable a platform as possible when taking your photos.

The temptation with a compact camera is to hold the camera in one hand with your arm extended in front of you.  Instead hold the camera in both hands, tucking your elbows into the body to provide a stable base for the camera.

Alternatively lean against a wall, or use a tripod or monopod to give you that extra stability.

2) Lighting

The Golden Hour

Always pay attention to the light

Pay attention to the quality of light around you, learn how to use the light to your advantage.  In general you want to have the light behind you as you photograph your subject, move around so that the light is in the right position.

Early morning and late afternoon is your friend.  Often referred to as the “Golden Hour” the hour after sunrise and before sunset is usually a wonderful time for photography, particular if you are shooting landscapes.

Warning, avoid shooting portraits of people in the middle of the day, the bright light often creates harsh shadows on the face.  If you are shooting people in the middle of the day look for where the light has been diffused, by clouds, trees or window curtains.

3) Composition and Rule of Thirds

The “Rule of Thirds” is probably the most well know method of composing a photo and rightly so as you will find that following this rule will allow you to take well balanced and interesting shots.  You are looking to break an image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you have 4 lines.

Rule of Thirds example

Turn on the Rule of Thirds camera function

Now if you compose your photo so that you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced.  Studies have shown that our eyes are naturally drawn to these points where the lines intersect.

Most modern compact cameras will have a setting where you can turn on the “Rule of Thirds” lines in your viewfinder.  If you have this option turn it on, as it will make composing your photos so much easier.

4) Focus first

If you follow the “Rule of Thirds”, one thing you may find is that your subject is slightly (or is some cases massively) out of focus.  This is because most cameras focus on what is in the centre of the frame.

This is easily overcome, point the camera at your subject and press the shutter button half way.  This will get the camera to focus on the subject and while the shutter button is pressed will keep the focus point locked.

Then reframe the shot so you have the composition you are looking for and press the shutter button the rest of the way to finish taking the photo.

5) Candid Photos

You will find that some of your best photos you will take of other people is when they are not aware of you.  It is human nature to pose for the camera, given the photo an unnatural feel.

Be at eye level with children

With Children and Pets get down to their level.

Some tips for taking good candid photos include: using your zoom (this is one occasion you don’t want to get in close), kill the flash, shoots lots (you are looking for a cheeky smile or sly look), you want people doing things, mix up your perspective and frame images with foreground elements.

Some of the best photos I have of my son are when he is not aware that I have the camera out 🙂

6) Children and pets

Bonus tip, one that I have mentioned before and I am certain will mention again.  When photographing children and pets, get down to their level.  If it means you have to lie on the ground so be it.

Too often people shoot down on children (and pets) and all we see is the top of their head with a glimpse of their eyes.  You want to get down, eye to eye, this way you are capturing their facial expressions, bringing the photo to life.

Do you use these tips in your photography? Are you going to try something new next time you head out with the camera?  Let me know all about it in the comments below.  Good luck and happy snapping 🙂

About Brendan

Brendan established MyTravelPhotoTips.com to help holidaymakers with their travel photography. The site offers expert information, tips, tools and recommendations.

Always with a camera close at hand, Brendan enjoys sharing his personal experiences and what he has found over the years to make himself a better photographer.