Tips For Vacation Photos

vacation-photosTaking a vacation is a wonderful experience, whether you go to a beach location, a theme park, have a camping holiday, or travel to Europe on a sightseeing tour. But when you return home, the pictures you took on your trip are a large part of the memory experience. These pictures are priceless and it is worth learning a few tips to make your picture-taking memories more rewarding.

When packing for your memorable vacation, keep these things in mind:

  • Camera, batteries + extras, memory card(s), battery chargers
  • External flash (if needed), tripod, portable storage device
  • Power adapter (if traveling abroad)
  • Camera case–waterproof if going to a beach or wet vacation spot (you can also purchase silica gel packs from your camera store to reduce moisture further)
  • Underwater camera if traveling to a beach location (even a small disposable one will get those unforgettable shots!)
  • Be sure to get a wrist-strap for your camera–you don’t want to lose your camera when you are traversing the rainforest treetops!

Be sure to charge your camera batteries before you leave home, and clear your memory card. It is always a good idea to take an extra memory card with you. Don’t be afraid to shoot lots of pictures of the same subject – a digital camera can hold a lot of pictures and you can sort out the good from the bad before printing them when you get home.

Before you leave home, do a little research on the spot you are traveling to and try to pre-plan some of the shots you may wish to take. Use travel guides, books and magazines to help plan what you may wish to include in your memory album. This may also be helpful not only in planning what type of shot you may wish to take, but may affect when you travel to a certain location. Would you like a shot of the sun rising majestically over the Rocky Mountains? Or how about a shot of elephant feeding time at the San Diego Zoo–or even fireworks over the Eiffel Tower? Make a list of these potential shots and plan your trip accordingly.

vacation-photos2Prove You Were There:

When you are taking pictures on your vacation, be sure to remember to include the human element. You don’t want only pictures of the scenery, but this should be a memory experience at the same time. Include pictures of your family and friends, even people you meet at the location. All of these elements ad to the ambiance of the experience.

Try to get at least some pictures with you in it. There is always some passerby around to take a picture of you in front of your cruise ship–just be sure it is someone trustworthy not to run off with your camera. Another good idea for this is to give the passerby a cheap disposable camera instead of your expensive one so that if he does drop the camera or runs off with it you won’t have much to lose. You may not get as good a picture quality, but at least it will be a memory shot.

Tips on Including People in Your Vacation Photos:

* Capture the anticipation of your trip by using people. Try photos of packing up the car, arriving at the airport, getting on the plane. This type of picture will lend a great story line when displaying your pictures in an album. The same goes for the end of your trip. Have a shot of your wife sleeping on the plane after a whirlwind European vacation. Personally, I always end our albums with a display of all the things we acquired on our trip–everything from that gorgeous purse I bought in Panama, shells from the beach, to the airline tickets and the Spanish phrase book we used.

* Place your subject off-centre using the rule of thirds. Divide the picture into a tic-tac-toe like grid and rather than placing your subject into the centre square, place them onto one of four lines. This makes for a more interesting picture and is more aesthetically pleasing. A great portrait would be placing a person to one side with the horizon filling the rest of the picture.

* Try to get the people in your pictures to tell a story rather than just standing in front of a landmark. Eating, leaning on street signs, browsing through roadside markets, swimming on the beach are all ways to achieve this.

* Don’t have your subjects stand so far away that you can’t recognize who they are. Get them to stand closer and have the landmark in the distance. You can always take an extra shot of the landmark by itself.

vacation-photos3* Sometimes it is good to get a photo of someone in the distance, perhaps with their back to the camera. This comes off as a candid shot and can create great drama in the picture.

* Try to get some action shots. Try taking a candid shot of kids or adults playing on the beach. Or capture someone’s face when tasting that chocolate covered ant. Use the Action Shooting Mode on your camera for a fast shutter speed to stop action so that you can get clear pictures without the blur. The Burst Mode lets you take multiple pictures with one click of the shutter button to catch a sequence of moves–for that Mexican dancing scene.

Landscape Tips:

* Study the area and plan your photograph. Would the picture be better if taken from the right to include the shadows? How about a different angle? You can crouch or take a photo looking up at the Eiffel Tower instead of straight on–wouldn’t that seem more dramatic? Use perspective to your advantage.

* Think about the distance you are away from your subject. Try to get as close as possible. Sometimes that house in the distance that you like will just be a spot in a 4X6 picture. Use your zoom as much as possible.

* Consider the lighting. The light can be harsh in the middle of the day and less intense in the early morning or late afternoon. Also you can achieve better results with lighting by taking pictures in inclement weather. Experiment by taking pictures at different times of the day. Even the shadows created in a landscape by taking advantage of the early morning light can be interesting and dramatic. Another lighting tip is to use you camera’s flash when shooting in direct sun to reduce effects of shadows on faces or other objects in the picture. If you happen to be in low light, try using a tripod. And experiment…is the light shining in the back or on the side? The placement of light and shadows in a picture can create a great shot.

* If you are taking a picture of a landscape, make sure there are no stray objects that may detract from your composition. Check before you shoot.

vacation-photos4* Use colour to your advantage. You can often achieve very dramatic shots of colourful houses, fall foliage or azure beaches to add vibrancy to your photos. If you have a Beach Mode on your camera, use it to capture bright seaside scenes.

* Take advantage of the landscape mode in your camera, which adjusts the aperture so that objects near and far are sharp and clear. To achieve the same effect manually, you need to set your aperture to a high f-number (like f6.3), which will provide a wide range of focus to ensure everything near and in the distance is in focus.

* Panorama shots are very popular and some cameras offer in-camera panorama-stitching which is a feature that uses up to five single shots to create one seamless image right in the camera. Sweeping beach scenes are perfect for the Panorama mode. Tips for panoramic shots: (1) make sure your camera is as level as possible, (2) be sure to stand in the same position for all the shots, (3) overlap you images by 30-50% horizontally. Consider using panoramic shots for breathtaking mountain range shots, sunsets, cityscapes, or even a cascading waterfall.

* Use the Sunset Mode on your camera to achieve ideal dramatic photos of early evening or dawn when the sun in near the horizon. Image that perfect beach with the sun setting in the background.

Snow or Black and White Shots:

* The key to capturing magical winter shots is in the white balance. To achieve realistic winter scenes, some cameras have a Snow Shooting Mode which will automatically adjust the camera’s white balance to compensate for the snow and lighting conditions. You can also use your camera’s manual controls to adjust the white balance until the snow colour is correct. The image will change on your camera’s screen so you can adjust it up or down until the image appears accurate.

* Black and white pictures accentuate lines, textures and edges making great dramatic photographs. This can be a great choice for beach scenes and coastlines alike.

vacation-photos5Vacation Photo Art:

* You can turn your vacation photographs into works of art using computer software to manipulate the pictures. If you have an artistic nature this is a great way to display your vacation photographs and receive rave reviews from family and friends.

Another tip on vacation photography is not just to take pictures of landmarks and people. Pictures of birds, flowers, and street signs all add to remembering where you visited.

I hope some of the above tips help in your vacation photography. At home, I love reviewing our photographs and reliving our travel experiences. We always take lots of pictures and share them often with family and friends.

If you want to read other articles about vacation tips, visit the website

About the Author
Denny Phillips has created several articles inspired by her love of cooking, travelling and art. Read other articles by Denny on her websites: and

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