I just had a vacation photography tip featured in the Forbes article “Pro Tips For Taking #Nofilter Photos With Your Phone This Summer.” Forbes! Is this real life?!!! With so much summer left for adventures, I wanted to share some of my other tips for taking vacation photos you’ll love pouring over as the years go on.
You’ll want to think about the landmarks and tourist spots you’re visiting, different photo groupings and some action shots. Has it been way too long since you had a photo with just your spouse? Maybe a mother-daughter photo is in order. Moms, add 20 years to this vacation and know that down the line, your presently small kid will want a photo with you in it, from this vacation. Couples, ask strangers and site employees to take a quick photo of the two of you. Look for friendly faces and other couples that might be trying to get a photo and make a trade! Solo travelers, this goes for you too. And please for the love of all things, don’t just rely on selfies.
In addition to photo groupings, think about being in the various locations you’re visiting. Is your husband insanely excited about visiting the car museum? Make a mental note to get some candid photos of him living his best life at that destination.
You’ve probably heard the term golden hour before. This is the 60-90 minutes just after sunrise and just before sunset. It’s also the best lighting of the day, which means it’s the best time of day to take photos. BUT you’re probably going to be doing all your sightseeing during the day when the sun is high in the sky and very harsh. When you find yourself trying to get photos in the midday sun, have your subject(s) face their shadow. To help little kids understand, have them pretend they are Peter Pan and trying to find their shadow. Putting the sun at an angle or directly behind your subject helps reduce squinting and prevents raccoon eyes. If the background you want to include requires everyone having the sun in their face, embrace the fun that sunglasses can add to a photo.
Once you get your family arranged where you want them, take an up close photo of them. Back up a few steps to get their entire bodies in the frame (watch to not cut off anyone’s feet). Then, back up one more time until they are about as tall as half of your photo frame or smaller and snap again. You’ll have three nice photos that show their faces and the environment you were all experiencing together. Bonus tip: the closeup and the faraway photo will look stellar next to each other in a photo book.
Most people that are not pro photographers tend to take a good majority of their photos horizontally. It’s how we experience the world around us based on the orientation and evolution of our eyes. Go ahead and grab the horizontal photo and then turn your camera or phone and make a vertical image too. This will give you more variety to choose from for framing your favorite moments or creating photo books. Also, check to make sure that your full body shots are truly full body. Sometimes in a rush there is a tendency to cut off feet!
Photograph any little details that stick out on your trip. Take photos holding your souvenirs. Notice things like street signs, lamp posts and other architectural details unique to your destination. I like to take photos of the menus at restaurants I eat at, as well as the description of the meal I ordered. If something stands out that you think you might want to remember or reference later, snap a quick photo.
This is a struggle for photographers and non-photographers alike, but I promise you it’s okay to put your camera/phone away. Part of experiencing a place involves looking at it with your actual eyes and not on a screen or through a view finder. It also requires that the entire trip isn’t a photo shoot. Be choosey about when you’re taking photos and don’t feel bad about stuffing your camera back into your bag.
Shameless plug you guys! But, I also put my money where my mouth is. In fact, the only souvenir I brought home from Amsterdam was an awesome gallery of myself playing all over the city. Yes it’s not “cheap” but I’m a big believer in purchasing souvenirs you expect to still have around and love 30 years down the road. We’ve all bought stuff that seemed like a reasonable purchase at the time, but went to waste later. A vacation session is a way around stressing over finding the perfect tangible memory, and as a bonus, it takes up zero space in your suitcase!
Looking for some vacation inspiration?
Follow me on Instagram for cool spots the world over!
You can also check out my Destinations page to see some of my favorite places and what’s on my travel wishlist.