A really great way to improve your photography and also to ensure that your photos from a trip don’t just stay on your hard drive is to create a photo book. Doing so will not only mean you can show off your trip (and photography skills) to your friends and family, but it will also give you a goal to aim for after a trip. It will help you be able to edit your photos and only select the very best ones. It will teach you how to ensure your photos flow in a clear pattern and story rather than a repetitive set of shots. So here are some tips to help you capture the shots you should, to be able to create a beautiful photo book.
The “show stopper” shot
This is the one that most people love to capture. The iconic, wide-angle shot that would look amazing on the wall or in a double-page spread. For example in a magazine, this would be the opening double-page spread that would grab people’s attention. Depending on your destination this shot should be something that captures the overall narrative. For example, if you are hiking, this might be a photograph of someone walking or camping in the wild. Whereas a train journey might feature a landscape photo of a train in a beautiful landscape. This photo might be your cover or even as an opening spread.
How can you have a book about a destination without the main landmark featuring in it? Imagine a book about your time in Paris without the Eiffel Tower. These famous icons have been photographed millions of times but that shouldn’t discourage you from taking your own shots. You can either try to come up with a unique way of photographing them or you can just take the obvious shot – but try to do it better. That might be in a better light or different season to the usual. Even in this day and age, there are still opportunities for unique shots of those famous landmarks but try not to fill your photo book with them. Three or four shots will be more than enough and try to make them a little different from one another. For example, one could be a wide-angle view that captures the whole landmark. Another could be a close up of the details and the third could be showing what is happening around it.
This will help people stay more engaged with the story and make the book less repetitive and boring to look through.
Often this is one area that you are able to really capture different shots to what already exists. People are such an essential part of our experience of a place that it is vital to capture photos if possible. Obviously, sometimes the story may not warrant that. For example, a safari or a National Park is more about the landscape and wildlife. But if you can incorporate a human element into the photo then you will often find that not only will they give your story more variety, but you will be able to capture more unique shots. So whether it is a simple head and shoulder portrait, people going about their daily lives or even as a point of interest in a wide-angle shot, don’t forget to capture photos of people.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, everywhere has it’s own unique types of food. So it should be one of the shots that you cover on any trip. But photographing food can often be challenging. Most of the time you will be inside and so low light will be an issue. Without a tripod, this will mean that you have to raise your ISO which in turn means more noise in your photos. The best thing you can do is to try and photograph food on an outside table (if possible). If not possible, then sitting at a table near a window will help. A good accessory to have is a gorilla pod. It’s far more discrete than a tripod and you will be able to set it on the table. Select the lowest ISO (i.e. ISO 100) and an aperture of around f/9 – f/11. This will ensure that your dish will be sharp throughout. Make sure you use a remote or set the camera on a timer to avoid touching the camera. As with all other shots you take on your trip, edit carefully to only feature a few key shots.
The key to any great photo book is a god flow through the different images. But it also needs to have a variety. Looking through page after page of the same type of shot can leave the viewer feeling uninterested and bored. A really good way to add variety to your photos is to capture details. These are the things that often people miss when they go somewhere which is why they are so fascinating to look at. Closeups could be of anything from food to carvings on a wall. They could even be natural elements like rocks or wood. Imagine having a series of 16 of these images next to each other as thumbnails in a square. Not only will they look fantastic but they will also engage the viewer as they look through them.
It’s not an easy task, but if you can capture something a little different from a well-photographed location, then it can make a big difference to your photo book. The best way to do this is to do as much research as you can on a location. The more you know about what already exists and what type of photos have already been taken, the better your chances will be of creating something unique. Sometimes you will get lucky and a unique opportunity will present itself. But usually, you will have to work hard to make that happen. If you can capture a few unique shots, it will make your photo book far more interesting for friends and family and potential clients to look through.
Putting together a photo book is a great way to showcase your photos in a cohesive and interesting way. People would much rather flick through a book with 20 photos than have to sit through someone showing them hundreds of the same shots. But even if the book is just for you, by having an end goal it can help you ensure that you capture a variety of different shots. It will also mean that your photos won’t just end up being on your hard drive for eternity.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.