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Pro photographer Jon Sparks has four top tips for taking photos of people that will come back to life when you get them home.

youre the director

Travel is not one experience; it’s a multitude. It’s about places, people, activities, moving around, down-time, food and drink... you name it. And therefore travel photography is not one kind of photography: it’s landscapes, action photography, portraits, architecture, food – and a whole lot more.

The diversity of travel explains why cameras don’t have a ‘Travel’ mode. But if you don’t want to get too technical, remember that most cameras do actually have a Landscape mode, a Portrait mode, and so on – and it’s really worth thinking about and understanding these modes for taking different shots while on your travels.

These different modes are helpful not just because they tweak the camera settings for better results in a particular situation, but because they can make you think about what sort of picture you’re trying to take.

Photography Masterclass 2: People

1) You’re the director
Don’t just take people pictures: make them. Don’t be afraid to ‘direct’ your friends and travelling companions. Decide whether you want them grinning at the cam-era, or engaged in what they’re actually there for. Be ready to move them to the side so you can see more of the panorama.

2) Stop flashing!
Make sure you know how to turn off the flash. It’s often intrusive and annoying to other people. It’s useless for anything more than a few metres away anyway. And besides, the light most flashes produce is pretty ugly. Modern cameras – especially DSLRs and mirrorless models – can maintain good image quality in remarkably low light levels, so you don’t ‘need’ flash as often as you might think.

3) Know your kit
Whatever camera you’re using, if you’re at ease and familiar with it, that will make it easier for the people you’re taking photos of too – with better results.

4) Engage!
Engage with people to get better portraits; don’t go snapping furtively. Things can even turn nasty if you get caught. An open approach usually gives better results anyway, and you can still get natural, unposed shots once people relax and return to what they’re doing.

5) Spice it up
Variety is the spice of portraits too: mix tight head-shots with looser shots showing people in their setting.

<< Photography Masterclass 1: Landscapes

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