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Mr. Selfish and I took over 50,000 photos during our selfish trip, which is approximately 135 photos per day.  Although we are nowhere close to being professionals, we have figured out a thing or two about photography. After all, practice makes perfect, and we’ve had a lot of practice!

Taking Photos1Taking Photos2

Other than our iPhones and iPad, which we never used for photos, Mr. Selfish and I had two cameras on our trip. Mr. Selfish has a Canon EOS REBEL T3i, which is a starter DSLR. For the majority of the trip, he was using the starter kit lens. It wasn’t until we reached Tasmania, Australia that Mr. Selfish upgraded his lens.

I, on the other hand, used a point and click the entire time – the Canon PowerShot S95. Apparently, my point and click now has much newer models but I found that mine worked fine for the vast majority of our photos. While I carried my camera with me at all times, Mr. Selfish only brought his DSLR out on what we thought would be scenic days.

Today, we’ll go over our amateur tips on how to take photos.

1.  Be aware of your lighting.

Lighting should be a consideration for every photo. You obviously don’t want your photos too dark or over exposed. It can also be fun to play with the lighting to show the contrast in the setting.


2.  Focus on composition.

Composition is very important in a photo. You should try to balance your photos and not have unnecessary negative space.


One of my biggest pet peeves is when you lend someone your camera and he/she takes a photo of you that completely ignores composition. For example, the first photo below is one that was taken by a stranger. You can’t tell from the photo that we are standing on the Pont Alexandre III, one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris. The second photo below is of me standing in the exact same position as the first photo, except Mr. Selfish took into consideration the composition.


3.  Sometimes, self-timer works the best.

If you really want to control the composition (see point #2), you may need to whip out the tripod and set the camera on self-timer. When strangers see me setting up the camera on a tripod, they inevitably offer to take a picture of us. I usually decline their offer. Other than on the rare occasion, the camera on self-timer will take a better photo.


4.  Patience is a virtue.

Mr. Selfish and I visited some very popular sights. The pictures below are of Giverny outside of Paris and the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. During both occasions, these sights were absolutely swamped with tourists. The reason these photos look so serene and empty is because we waited at these places until it was momentarily empty and snapped as many photos as possible.


5.  Blurring can be fun.

While blurring on my point and click can be a tad difficult, Mr. Selfish has mastered depth of field on his DSLR. Although I was sometimes the blurred part of the photo, I still think it made for interesting shots.


6.  The Rule of Thirds works!

You don’t always have to center your photos. For interesting composition, you can use the rule of thirds.

Rule of Thirds1

7.  Play with the angles.

It’s fun to change the angles of your photos. Mr. Selfish and I took a walk through the redwoods near Rotorua, New Zealand. Although they were not as impressive as the redwoods in California, he took a different photo of them.


Another example of playing with angles is below. Even though Godzilla was tiny, we still had a good time with him.


8.  Focus on the details.

When you take a photo of a large landscape, you may miss out on the details, which can be very picturesque on their own.


9.  Don’t be afraid to ask to take a photo.

Muster up the courage and ask a local if you can take his/her photo. The worst that can happen is that he/she declines. The best and what usually happens is he/she will allow you to take the photo.


10.  Pay attention to your background.

The foreground is of course very important in photos, but the background can also make or break a photo.


11.  Wait for magic hour.

Mr. Selfish and I saw dozens of sunrises and sunsets on our trip. They definitely make it easy to take the most magical photos.

Magic Hour2Magic Hour3

12.  Sometimes, silhouettes are the best.

Lighting will not always be in your favor. Embrace it and take a silhouette photo instead!


13.  Consider the weather conditions.

The first time we visited Bondi Beach, the weather was sunny and magnificent. This is in direct contrast to our second visit to Bondi, during which it was stormy and wet. Although the two photos below are of the same beach, they clearly convey very different moods.


14.  Be creative.

There is no right or wrong way to take a photo. Just be creative and have fun with it!


Tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll go over some tips on how to pose in photos.