What is a Great Theme Photography Idea for a Holiday Abroad?

What is a Great Theme Photography Idea for a Holiday Abroad?

Of course, we should take pictures of the highlights when we are visiting an unknown region or country. Yet, it is also fun to restrict yourself by taking pictures according to a theme.

It is important for a photographer, or any creative person in general, to always try to improve. However strange it may seem, limiting ourselves is a major contributor to betterment.

I do it often, assigning myself to photograph only round objects, or movement, just vertical lines, S-like shapes, contrasts in thick-thin or big-small, and so on. I can assure you, you will see different subjects to take pictures of.

In this article, I give an example of a theme photography idea I had when I spent my holiday of 2013 in Spain, waiting for my first grandson to be born: restricting myself to the colour yellow.

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A theme photography idea

You can benefit from taking pictures according to a theme in a number of ways. The creative process will be boosted as you look around with fresh eyes. The results are often surprising and very satisfying.

Traditional landscapes, food and customs

Yellow dates in a palm tree

When I walked on a Spanish market back then, I felt as if I was in a time capsule, catapulted 40 years back. The markets looked exactly the same as when I was on holiday with my parents as a teenager. It was nice. It was cosy. I loved it.

Our son married a Spanish girl, so my husband and I spent nearly every holiday in Spain and visited regions I would never have visited with my parents because they only went to tourist places on the coast.

In 2013 our son and daughter-in-law lived right in the middle of Spain. That’s why the markets looked the same as in my childhood. You wouldn’t see any Dutch or English market vendors there, as you saw on the Costas.

My love for Spain, the Spanish food and the Spanish landscapes grew over time. There is a huge variation in the different regions and their customs. Now that I live in Spain myself I notice how the country has changed.

On the markets as well as in the shops, we can buy everything we like. The romantic old scenery is gone in most areas. Yet the most significant colour in the Spanish summer still is yellow.

Related: 7 Ways to Use Colour in Photography

Yellow fields

Field of grass, Toledo
The blue sky enhances the colour even more.

The region of Toledo is agrarian

Spain was called the wheat belt of Europe and if you drive from San Sebastian to Salamanca you see exactly why. On the plains, it’s all grain you’ll notice.

On the slopes in the Sierras – the mountain areas in several parts of Spain – there is partly grain and partly bleached-out grass on the fields.

If you are like me and you like both nature and culture, you will love Spain. That spring we were in a cabin – una cabaña – in a village called Nuño Gómez. Some 50 miles to the north are the Sierra de Gredos (a national park).

Behind those mountains lies the beautiful walled city of Ávila and both Madrid and Toledo are about 80 miles away. Inviting us to a lot of hiking in nature and sniffing culture in the cities.

Walls of Avila
The walls of Avila at dusk.
A traditional shelter for sheep and goats in the Sierra de Gredos.

Yellow flowers

My favourite is Mimosa

Mimosa blooms in February. We were too late for the lovely smell of those beautiful fluffy little flowers. Blooming this time – and our cabin was hidden in it – was the Escobon, a kind of Dyer’s Broom. You can see these flowers everywhere, constantly buzzing because of the huge amount of bees they attract.

I looked up the translation both in Dutch and in English because I wanted to know if it showed a name I would recognize. Google Translate said: Escobon. Hmm, that’s not a big help. I guess it’s a typical Spanish flower.

Visiting in the late summer or autumn you will see a lot of sunflowers in some areas. Grown for their seeds and oil. 

Sunflower seeds are delicious. The big ones are called pipas in Spanish. If there has been a parade of some kind, like Carnival or a procession, the streets are littered with the remains of the pipas.

Unfortunately, the Spanish add an enormous amount of salt to it, and I don’t eat salt, so I eat them a lot at home. I like the smaller, beige variation more than the big striped ones.


Without yellow there is no blue
~Vincent Van Gogh

Nuno Gomez
Our cabaña was covered in buzzing Escobon.

Yellow decorations

Traditional acanthus motif

Talavera de la Reina is one of the three main ceramics centres in Spain. The Tajo flows right through it, bringing huge amounts of clay to the banks.

In the 16th century, the decorations of the household pottery in Talavera were blue on white. Later a very specific yellow was added. There is an industry of glazed street signs, fountain parts, wall tiles and decorated pottery.

It’s very traditional and unfortunately they have a hard time surviving. A friend showed us a factory where nowadays 12 people work. There used to be 160 workers!

The brick factories outnumber the decoration factories, but these too have a hard time surviving due to the economic circumstances, especially in the building industry.

Even a simple churrería has a beautiful decoration outside. Churros. In the Netherlands we have Stroopwafels, in the States there are Donuts, the Spanish have Churros. It’s made of fried sweet dough, eaten with a lot of hot chocolate sauce.

This acanthus ornament is used the most in Talavera.
Teatro Victoria, Talavera de la Reina
One of the theatres in Talavera (BTW don’t you think it’s funny that the sign says TE ATRO instead of TEATRO?).

Yellow fruit

Colours have an influence on us

Yellow fruit and vegetables are harmonizing, laxative and purifying. Bananas, pineapples and lemons are soothing and stimulate happiness and wellbeing. This is from a nutritional point of view.

From the experience of the colours that surround us, yellow is also a colour that has a positive influence on our mood. Yellow makes us happier.

I used to hate yellow when I was younger. Probably because yellow clothes didn’t suit me at all, they made me look sick. Nowadays I have grown to like yellow and its nuances.

Every colour of food has its own blessings. Have a look at my article at another website about yellow food.

Related: Yellow Foods that Boost your Immune System Naturally

Yellow lemons.
Yellow bananas in a blue box
I always think it’s clever when a market trader looks at the colours to display his fruit.

Yellow food


Difficult to make, but nice: Tortilla

A traditional Spanish dish is Tortilla. It consists mainly of potatoes and eggs, baked together they produce a nice, soft yellow colour. Variations are adding some ham, onions or other things, but they always add that in little quantities.

My son’s mother-in-law made them a lot. I should have asked her for the recipe to have an original and traditional one. According to my husband, it isn’t easy to make Tortilla right. I wouldn’t know because I don’t cook!

¡Buen Aprovecho!

Do you link a specific colour to a country? Let me know in the comment box below.

This article is an update. Originally published on 27-07-2013.

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8 thoughts on “What is a Great Theme Photography Idea for a Holiday Abroad?”

  1. Hi Hannie!

    First off, I love yellow! I have this secret relationship with yellow. Probably because it makes me happy! It makes me feel bright. Canary yellow is my fav. So I like how you used your creativity to allow me to see the world in the different shades of yellow. This was beautiful! So informative we can use this for any idea, holiday, tradition with any color!

    • LOL, canary yellow used to be the colour I hated the most. No offence meant! I really had to put in an effort to come to like yellow but as with anything in life, when we put our minds to it, we can change.
      I am glad this article was an inspiration to you. Thanks for your comment and kind words!

  2. Hi Hannie! This was such a fun article to read. My fiance and I are going on a beach vacation in a few weeks and are hoping to take our engagement pictures while we are there. Your article gave me so many ideas that I can’t wait to incorporate into our photoshoot. I just know our wedding guests will love these pics for the Save the Dates!

    • That is marvellous, Erica, congratulations on your intended marriage! <3 When you are on the beach, try to make use of the 'golden hours' for your photoshoot. They are from about half an hour before sunrise until one hour after, and from an hour before sunset until half an hour after. The light is most beautiful then, and you could take lovely silhouettes. I can really imagine what that must look like. So great!

      Thanks for your comment and have the best day ever when you get married!

  3. For me, photos are the most beautiful during the winter. And especially if you are travelling with family, you can really take great photos like a professional. A good camera or even a phone with a good camera is very important. Camera imaging techniques can help me on my next trip.
    Did you also use other colours than yellow as a theme during a holiday?

    • You’re probably from a northern country, Bojana? I ask because when I still lived in the Netherlands I also loved wintertime, especially when there was snow. Yet here in the south of Spain, wintertime is usually dull. The light is not very bright and when it’s a cloudy day, everything is brown and beige. 🙂

      So far, I haven’t made other colours as my theme during a holiday. I wonder why I haven’t, so good question. Thanks, I am going to think about it.

      Thanks for your comment and take a lot of pictures!

  4. Dag Hannie, leuk artikel!
    Ik vermoed dat de Escobon hetzelfde is als onze Gele Kornoelje. Maar ik kan het niet goed onderscheiden op de foto. Gaandeweg wordt mij duidelijk waarom jij (jullie) Nederland verlaten. Heb je al een plek gevonden om je definitief te vestigen?
    Hartelijke groet, M

    • Hoi Martha, als Gele Kornoelje erg op brem lijkt maar in een andere tijd bloeit dan zou je goed gelijk kunnen hebben. 🙂
      Helemaal definitief weten we het nog steeds niet, maar voorlopig denken we dat het de Costa Cálida wordt.
      Hartelijke groet terug, Hannie


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