Chris Coe's Photography Tips (Part 1)

19 Jun 2012

Travel Photographer of the Year founder Chris Coe tells us what it takes to NOT be the World’s Worst Travel Photographer.

Do you marvel at the calibre of shots taken by some of the great travel photographers, inspired by the way they bring to life everything from a place, a person or even a blade of grass?

Do you go to take an artistic photo only to find your shot has been obscured by a pole (where did that come from?) or you’ve missed your subject entirely (it was right there, I tell you!)?

If that sounds like you – Chris Coe has some expert tips to set you on the straight and narrow.

Chris Coe's tips for better holiday photography

  1. Learn how your camera works and what it can do BEFORE you go. It doesn't matter what camera you have as long as you are aware of what it can and can't do. So, for example, if you have a disposable instant camera then don't expect to get great close up wildlife shots of lions without being eaten! For this you will need a camera with a bigger lens. But you can still get great shots with these cameras where you can get in close to what you're photographing. Better equipment simply gives you more options and opportunities to photograph different things. Whatever your camera, learn how it works so that you're prepared to take a photo at any time.  
  2. Decide what the main subject is, then exclude anything else which you don't want or distracts from it. Good photography needs a bit of thought. Don't just point and click at anything that catches your eye. First decide what or who you're photographing, where you're going to stand to take the photograph and what else you want in the picture. Have a reason for taking a particular photo; before you click ask yourself "is this really a good picture or am I just pressing the button because I'm here?". 
  3. Place the main subject of your picture off-centre to make it more interesting and add impact.  Avoid putting the subject of your photograph in the middle of the frame just because that's where the camera focuses - it makes dull pictures. Try placing them to one side or nearer the top or bottom of the frame. If you're photographing people put them on the opposite side of the frame to the way they're looking so that they look into the picture not out of it. If you're photographing a scene put the horizon nearer the top of the frame to emphasise the foreground, and nearer the bottom to emphasise the background or a dramatic sky. 
  4. Look for an interesting viewpoint. Be adventurous when choosing where to take a picture from. Get down low or find a high viewpoint. Pictures taken by kids are often more interesting because they see the world from a different perspective, much nearer to the ground. Try it!
  5. Be original, and take pictures that other people will find interesting! If you only ever take the picture postcard view, then you might just as well buy the postcard! Experiment - it doesn't matter if you get some bad pictures, just as long as you have fun doing it. Find a new viewpoint then think about how you can use the different parts of your picture to create something more interesting. Use a doorway or window to frame a view, or climb up onto a balcony to get an aerial view then lie on the ground and see how the same picture changes dramatically. Only include things in the frame which give more emphasis to the main subject and take care to cut out things which distract from it.

Stay tuned for more photography tips from Chris Coe as well as well as our other judges, including Simon Reeve, Anthony Cullen, Kirsten Alana and Max Wooldridge.

This competition is now closed for entries. Thanks to everyone who sent their crapsnaps our way.