Moving moments – time-lapsing your holidays

Due to its ability to freeze time, photography is an ideal medium for capturing memories. Time-lapse enhances this function of photography further still, creating moving memories of those special moments.

When on holiday, especially, when away from the grind of everyday life, it’s good to be able to capture new places and new experiences.

A still image can help you to hold on to a moment. You can look back at a photograph and it allows you to see the little details of where you were, what you were doing, and those who you were with; stuff that you may otherwise have forgotten over time.

For some people more than others, holiday snaps are an important part of expressing an identity; who they are and what they are interested in. Particularly in this digital age, platforms like Instagram fulfil the same function as a photo album; to preserve special memories.

Today, most of us have a camera in our pockets at all times via our smartphones. Such memories are thus preserved through less tactile means but this has led to several new ways of documenting our experiences.

Moving memories

As we have written about elsewhere, photography is able to reveal new levels of meaning beneath the surface – particularly those candid photographs that capture a moment in ways that are unplanned.

Time-lapse can also be used in this way as it consists of a series of still photographs captured sequentially. Despite the planned element of this method – where photographs are taken at regular intervals for a particular period of time – predictability does not necessarily mean that images are all the same.

Night shot looking across the Thames towards Albert Embankment, Nine Elms
Above: a night shot taken by one of our camera systems overlooking the Thames towards Albert Embankment.

Stunning compositions are almost guaranteed with time-lapse (and if you don’t believe this, then check out more of our own special images).

Time-lapse still has the same benefits of still photography, then, but is able to push the boundaries of this visual mode by adding the element of movement.

Going back to the subject of holiday photographs, by using time-lapse to capture your memories, you are extending your perspective through motion. Photography freezes time but time-lapse can help to capture the energy of a particular place and time.

Thinking about it another way, you are capturing ‘moments’ as opposed to ‘a moment’.

Of course, video can do the same thing. Rather than being limited to a stationary perspective, video captures action as it happens for up to hours at a time. Plus, in certain circumstances video is the better choice.

Time-lapse relies on movement and progressive change in order to be effective. The more movement, the better the time-lapse because each frame will be noticeably different to the previous ones.

But time-lapse can be more efficient than video when thinking long-term. Although capturing hundreds and thousands of images across days, months, and even years, involves hefty amounts of data, this is a much more durable method than video.

Indeed, it’s not plausible to video at considerable length, especially when on holiday. The remote element of time-lapse photography – in that the camera is programmed to capture regularly without manual handling – allows lengthier periods of time to be documented with minimal input.

Holiday time-lapses

Let’s look at some examples.


In this time-lapse video of Oahu in Hawaii, we are given an idea of what it’s like to experience some of the island’s most scenic locations.

Sandy beaches, salty seas, celestial happenings, as well as crowds of tourists, are perfect subjects for time-lapse because they all involve lots of movement over time.

Change between each frame appears much more prominent in time-lapse sequences, as if jumping from one moment to the next. This seems to communicate the passing of time much more effectively than video can.

In a holiday setting especially, this conveys those long hours spent exploring somewhere new and exotic. A great sense of wanderlust can be conjured up with time-lapse. The meanderings of Aleksandr Shtarev, for example, make for some great footage in their time-lapse of a three-week vacation across the Balkans.

Of course, the actual travelling aspect of holidays are also an important part of any trip – and something which time-lapse renders really well. Journeys can be long but time-lapse is able to show change much quicker than it unfolds in reality.

Shred:30’s ‘Goodbye to Puerto Vallarta’ shows a plane taking off in a fraction of the time that it would happen in reality; getting airborne takes place in a matter of seconds.


Granted, being able to record special trips and favoured holiday locations in any format is rewarding. Nevertheless, time-lapse maintains the magic of still photography while pushing its boundaries in order to show those ‘moving’ moments in more remarkable ways.

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