My Holiday Travel Journey (+ Tips for Better Photos)

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been kind of quiet lately. Well, I haven’t been idle, I’ve been away in the United Kingdom, visiting family and friends, and playing tourist. Having come here once a year for the last 15-20 years, I’m certainly not your typical visitor but each time is filled with new experiences and I record everything faithfully on Instagram as I am photograph crazed.

It may because I was provided with a Samsung Galaxy Phone 4 zoom to bring along on the trip to take better photos and really learn the tricks of the trade. I was provided with tips by Ira Block, an internationally-renowned photojournalist for National Geographic and my photos are a much better quality than I’ve ever seen before. I’ve been using these tips carefully, learning new tricks along the way, sweeping through the cities of York, Manchester and now London.

Here are some of his suggestions:

Use the Sports/Action mode when shooting action photos. It picks a high shutter speed which will stop movement. This is shot from our trip to the center of York, a medieval city in Northern England. I snapped people walking through town, preparing for Christmas Day.


For night shooting use a small tripod and voice command to fire the shutter. This is a shot of Central London, taken at night just before New Year’s Eve of the mad dash of people shopping.


Use a small LED light to enhance your photos. Try to balance the LED light with the existing light in the room. This shot was taken during our visit to the Dukes Hotel in London for high tea. The shot captures the beauty and elegance of the experience.


Don’t always center your image, especially people. A face in the middle of the frame gives you a photo that is half sky. Use the rule of thirds and position your subjects accordingly. You can then pick your focus point on the back of the screen. Check out this shot of my tween gazing out at the city of York. It really captures her wanderlust and sense of adventure.


Use the gridline function on the camera to aid in keeping the horizon and buildings straight. This is a shot of a medieval wall of the gated city of York. It captures the history and age of the wall.


– Learn how your camera sees, it is different than your eyes and your brain. This is one of my popular shots from my UK trip of the city of York. It really takes you inside the lens. You feel the winter weather, the depth of history experienced during our time there.


Be careful of wide-angle scenics, everything will get very small. You need to have a large subject in the foreground to give better size perspective. This was taken during our trip through Green Park on the way to high tea. I took a close up of one of the park’s most well-known monuments.


– Look for layers in your photos. Have something in the foreground, middle and background. This shot was taken in a soap store in York. It gives you a glimpse of both the beautiful products and the store itself.


If you have a good subject shoot it from different angles, and always get in close. Walking around London, there was so much to shoot. Using my Samsung, I was able to really zoom in to get good shots.


Don’t look at your photos while shooting, you may miss a moment. Shoot a lot, use the continuous function and check out the images afterwards. When touring York Minster, the second oldest cathedral in Northern Europe, I snapped and snapped. The edifice was thousands of years old and simply majestic.


There’s definitely a difference between taking photos with the Samsung Galaxy versus my traditionally used (and beloved) iPhone. The quality is superior, without a question, and the usability factor is pretty fantastic, especially for a camera novice like myself.

Disclosure: I was provided with a Samsung Galaxy to facilitate this review but as always, all opinions are my own.

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  1. These are beautiful photos and I love your tips. What a wonderful camera.

    I hope you can set aside a date/time to get together for lunch. I’d love to chat and get to know more about you because I love all you write about. What do you think, Holly?

    Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your loved ones.

  2. Love the pictures, especially the one of your daughter! Stunning!

  3. Mikaela Walker says:

    I have a Galaxy 4 and I have been tryino to figure out how to use all the picture settings and been failing miserably. I am going to have to copy these tips. Any tips on how to get a good panoramic shot?

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