Published on The Punch - My thoughts on your travel pics.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, take photos.

Wondering how to take great holiday snaps? Ben Groundwater has tips from Richard I'Anson, professional photographer and author of Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography, on how to take the perfect pic.

Except he’s forgotten the best tip on taking travel photos. Don’t. Put the camera down and go do something.

As Ben says, many travellers fancy themselves as photographers and “like to take the odd snap to show off to their friends back home”.

But it’s not the “odd snap”. It’s endless monotonous sunsets, sunrises, and blurred pics of the view from the train window, plane window and the local toilets. So many photos I wonder if they did anything on the trip other than press the shutter button.

There’s the scenery bore, usually a single traveller who takes endless shots of landscape and them standing in front of it, safe in the knowledge that their precious pictures are unsoiled by social interaction.

“This, this is a shot of a waterfall. And this is the same waterfall from a different spot. This is the waterfall with me in front of it. I always take two shots in case I close my eyes. No, I take three. Look, there I am. And here’s that waterfall again. Will you just look at all that water?”

Or the amnesiac bores who need to agree on the inconsequential details of what each shot is before they can move on.

“Oh this, this is that temple – John, was this the temple with the statues? It was? – We went to this temple on the – John, was it the third or the fifth day? You had that food poisoning on the third day, you had a runny bottom. I told you not to eat the salad. – We went on the third day. Look, there’s a statue.”

And that’s not counting the technical bores who tells you all about the lens they used for each shot, the food bores who insists on photographing every meal and the ego bore who is gurning out at you from each of their photos. All four hundred of them.

Back in the days of camera that used film, the bores were usually limited by their budget. They didn’t take 20 shots of the same thing – it cost too much to develop. Travellers had a good look, took a pic and went off to have some fun.

But thanks to digital cameras, people feel unfettered in how often they click. I’ve been shown twenty photos of the same waterfall. I’ve sat through countless hours of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and Amsterdam’s red light district.

And it’s not just saving them for later, some people want you stop having fun and squint at that screen right now. One bore tried to show me pictures of the Whitsundays when we were still in the Whitsundays and trying to enjoy the scenery. I just said the screen was too hard to see.

But now Nikon have produced a camera with a projector, so bores can start show a slideshow on the spot. If I see someone coming towards me with that, I will be off and running before you can say “this, this is a picture of where we are right now”.

I’m not saying I won’t look at any photos, but I have a limit. Hand picked precious moments is one thing, the same shot from 16 angles is another. Much like your love life, I’m happy you enjoyed yourself, but I don’t to hear a complete play-by-play and flick through detailed pictures.

And, much like your love life, there comes a time to put the camera down and go have some fun yourself or people are going to think you’re a bit of a bore.


  1. "What do you mean you can't stay?
    I'm only on the 350th photo, and we haven't even left the hotel yet!"

    Or in my case...
    "want to see 70 photos' of a rock?"


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