A voew foprm a tropical beach
Photo supplied by Justin Morrison

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that if it wasn’t for travel, I would never have found the passion for photography that has become such a rewarding part of my life. From the moment I borrowed my dad’s old film camera and started taking it on weekend trips, I gained a whole new way to explore and interact with foreign places.

Canadians love a tropical vacation—it’s a great way to kick back and relax, but it’s also a great time to get the camera out and unleash your creativity. This is especially true if you are on vacation to celebrate a family event or for a destination wedding. So today I’m going to offer some of my thoughts on how to take great photos on your next tropical vacation.

Meet the locals

There are a lot of clichéd photos that are not hard to make in a tropical location; white sandy beaches, palm trees, epic sunsets and such. But why not tap into some of the local culture and try to make something original? Go out and meet some local people, learn to say hello in their language, smile—you’ll find people are generally open and receptive to a request for a photo. Or maybe there’s an aspect of the local architecture that catches your eye, or some of the local flora and fauna. Whatever it is that tickles your fancy, try and come up with a different angle and create something that surprises and excites you. For me this is one of the most important ways to grow and sustain a passion for photography—finding new ways to express my creativity.

Shoot at the golden hour

If you want to make images with the best light possible, then shoot in the hour around sunset, the so-called ‘Golden Hour’. Everything looks better in Golden Hour light, especially people, so after you’ve captured that sunset, turn around and notice how the soft, warm light plays on the surroundings and makes things look so much more alluring than any other time of day. Too often I see people taking shots of friends standing in front of a beautiful sunset, which usually turns out as a silhouette. Next time you are in that situation, put the sunset at your back so that your friend is facing towards it and you’ll truly get to experience the magic of the Golden Hour. You’ll see how beautifully the light shapes the human face, and the amazing reflection in the eyes—the so-called ‘catchlights’ that portrait photographers love so much.

Another great thing about the Golden Hour is that sky at that time is as blue as it gets. It becomes a perfect backdrop to create some really interesting photos. One of the important points that I learned about color theory that has really helped me to understand color photography better is the concept that warm colors advance and cool colors recede. For example, if you place a red circle on a blue background, the circle will appear to be closer than the blue around it, whereas a blue circle on a red background will look like a hole. This is why a blue sky makes such a great background.

Be a minimalist

Have you heard about the whole minimalism movement that’s been growing in the last little while? I’m not sure you’ll find too many photographers jumping on that bandwagon—we we are absolute gear junkies! But there is a lesson in minimalism that could well come into play on a tropical vacation. Look for scenes that offer unbroken backgrounds, like the blue sky or a vast stretch of sandy beach or open water, and use that as a canvas on which to place another feature. This can be a really rewarding technique, and in fact you could spend your entire vacation just trying to create such images, and end up with a really nice portfolio to print when you get home.

Also, think about the textures that are unique to the place you find yourself, whether it’s a piece of foliage, the weathered hull of a boat, rock formations, or something else entirely. You’ll be surprised the interesting textures you’ll notice when you start looking for them.

A photo of a surfer with a GoPro camera
A GoPro is a great camera to bring on vacation

Bring a waterproof camera

It used to be the case that you needed a very expensive camera housing in order to shoot photos underwater. Nowadays there are some really affordable waterproof camera options like action cams such as the many GoPro cameras. Taking your camera out into the waves offer you some perspectives that are impossible to get any other way. I especially enjoy shots that play around the intersection of the water and the sky above.

I can’t emphasize enough how rewarding it is to print your images and hang them in your home when you get back from a vacation. Too often nowadays we let our best shots sit on our cameras or computers, and never take the time to bring them to life by printing them. Here at BestBuy.ca we’ve got a tonne of great inkjet printers capable of producing truly exquisite, museum-quality prints. As well as enjoying your work, you’ll also get the opportunity to reflect on your technique and your vision, and learn by your experiences. Hanging your work on your walls is unquestionably one of the best and most important ways to grow as a photographer.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for your next tropical vacation, and if you’re thinking about investing in a new camera for the trip, be sure to check out the full range of cameras available at BestBuy.ca!

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