Learning to see: Working around the iconic holiday photo

Learning to see: Working around the iconic holiday photo

A few weeks ago I was in Ireland with my family for a while. One of the places on our list to check out was Kylemore Abbey, a former boarding school and castle in County Galway.

There was a lake in front of it and we had big ideas to capture the building with its reflection in the water; the mountains and trees surrounding it in the background.

But when we pulled up, we noticed something was different. One of the wings of the building was surrounded by scaffolding. It was under construction.

Stupid as we were, I knew there were ways to get creative and still capture the essence of what was around me.

Compose around the obstacle

Despite the scaffolding covering one wing of the building, I still wanted a way to ‘see’ the whole building as I had initially envisioned.

To the left of where I was standing was a small tree. I realized I could use this tree to block the jetty. It would create a fairly sharp angle to the building, but it would have a different look to the typical frontal shot of the abbey.

Come closer

This may seem obvious, but get closer to your subject. With Kylemore Abbey, once we walked up to it, I was able to focus more on the details. I also discovered that I could capture the entire building by standing on the opposite corner of the scaffolding.

vacation photo

Change your focus

On the side of the building was a bush with a few pink flowers that were beginning to sprout. I thought this would be the perfect example of when I could focus on the bush and create a blurry building in the background.

vacation photo

You’ll see that even though the building isn’t the focus of the photo, it still does it justice.

Emphasize the details

This is probably my favorite photo I’ve taken at Kylemore Abbey because it’s more abstract than the others. I decided to focus on just one corner column of the abbey and have the trees and mountains around it in full.

vacation photo

While the column is still the most important part of the photo, the plants on the lower part of it near the mountains at the top make it almost surreal, like being in a jungle. It gives a totally different perspective than what’s out there.

Vacation photos can be easy

Just because the iconic photo you had in your mind isn’t an option doesn’t mean the trip has to be a waste. Especially on a vacation, you may not get exactly what you envisioned, whether due to weather, construction, or otherwise. It’s a great lesson in learning to see and adapt to circumstances.

And maybe you can make some really cool holiday photos out of it.