With summer on the doorstep, this year's holiday season is just around the corner, and many of us are gearing up for a new adventure. It doesn't matter whether you're heading off for a long wekend in London or on a two-month trip to Thailand, there are always great new shots to be had, especially with the right creative approach. Over the next few articles we present four must-shoot projects to try while you're away, so you come home with exciting and well-conceived images rather than soulless snapshots. Grab your passport and let's go...
PROJECT 1 Get creative with colour (See related article: Create a colourful quadtych)
PROJECT 2 Have the whole place to yourself (See related article: Shoot an unspoilt sunrise)
PROJECT 3 Shoot a striking cultural portrait (See related article: Capture a cultural portrait)
PROJECT 4 Find a new angle for unique shots (See related article: Take a fresh look at an old location)
PROJECT 5 Five more creative ideas to try
BEFORE YOU GO Get prepared for your trip
IF THERE'S A SURE-FIRE WAY TO kick-start your creativity, sharpen your shooting skills and open the door to some seriously exciting photographic opportunities, it's travel. Visiting a new place allows you to see everything through completely fresh eyes. According to Bill Bryson: “The greatest reward of travel is to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” This is the time to break out of familiar surroundings and get creative with your camera, and we're going to show you how to get the best results from your location.
But before you even think about jumping on a plane, you're going to have to decide what gear to take and what to leave behind. Any form of travel means space is at a premium, and if you're flying, you'll be limited by weight too.
Job one is to choose which camera to take. If you only have one, the burden of decision is off your shoulders. But if there are several cameras in the family, you have some thinking to do. As a general rule, the smaller the camera the better, which makes mirrorless models or premium compacts slightly preferable to DSLRs.
You could also consider an action cam, such as a GoPro, which are ideal for shooting in and out of the pool and on the beach, but aren't so good for creative images. If you're buying a new camera before you go, consider one with weather sealing, to protect it from splashes of water, sand and dust. To the right, we check out our three top enthusiast-level cameras for travel photography.
Three perfect travel cameras...
Nikon 1 AW1 kit £629
Although now an older model, Nikon's 14.2MP CSC is still the only waterproof interchangeable lens camera on the market. It can be fully submerged to 15m, and is shockproof to 2m. There are several waterproof lenses available too, the 11-27.5mm kit lens included.
Panasonic G80 kit £799
The 16MP enthusiast-level G80 is fully dust- and weather-sealed, so can easily withstand a few splashes of water. It's very compact, and has a tilting screen for composing at angles. The camera also comes with 4K Photo, meaning you can pluck 8MP stills from 4K video.
Canon 77D kit £919
Canon's brand new enthusiast offering boasts a redesigned 24.2MP APS-C sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation, a 3in flip-out touchscreen and dual pixel AF for fast Live View focusing. There's also Full HD video at 60fps for smooth slow-mo.
Eight essential extras for photographers
Once you have your camera sorted, you'll need to make some tough decisions about which lenses and accessories to take. Here we check out must-have items that deserve a place in your kit bag...
1 Wide-angle lens From £330
If you're planning to shoot landscapes or cityscapes while you're away, you'll need a lens with a very wide angle-of-view. Most kit lenses zoom out to the equivalent focal length of around 25-30mm, but ideally you want 20mm or wider.
2 Portrait lens From £105
The most flattering focal length for portraits is the equivalent of 85mm, which means a 50mm lens on most DSLRs, the same on Fuji CSCs, and 42mm on Panasonic and Olympus. Buy an inexpensive prime with a wide aperture to blur backgrounds.
3 Batteries & charger From £40
Make sure you pack your charger, as well as a plug adapter if you're heading abroad. It's also worth investing in a spare battery, as when travelling you're likely to shoot a lot of photos between charges.
4 Mini tripod From £18
For night shots and landscapes, you'll need to keep your camera perfectly still. You may not be able to take a full-sized tripod, but it's worth packing a mini version, which can weigh as little as 250g. Manfrotto's Pixi range is ideal.
5 Memory cards From £10
As a general rule, you'll need around 32GB of memory for every week you're away - that's 1000-1500 RAW shots. But to be safe you should take at least double this. SD cards are cheap, so there's no excuse for running out of space!
6 Lens cloth and fluid From £10
Your lens' front element will get pretty dirty when travelling, so you should clean it as regularly as possible. This is especially true if you're on the coast, where sea spray can leave a salty residue. Fluid, in addition to a cloth, is recommended.
7 Waterproof bag From £30
To protect your gear from dust, water and sand, all of which cause serious damage, take a kit bag with a built-in raincover, and ideally weatherproof zips. You may also consider a model with anti-theft technology such as slash-proof straps.
8 Shutter release cable From £15
If you're shooting long exposures, a shutter release cable or wireless remote allows you to fire your camera without causing shake. They're cheap, light and compact, so easy to pack. You can also use your phone if your camera has Wi-Fi.