I will fully admit I am a picture addict. It’s not uncommon for me to take a couple thousand photos while away on a week long vacation. I love putting photo albums together of our trips and create a yearbook for my family that includes hundreds of pictures from our adventures.
Over the years the way I take pictures has evolved. I have also added a variety of cameras to my arsenal to ensure I’m always prepared. Go-pro, drone, SLR, camcorder… We bring a lot of gear, but we also bring home a lot of very cool memories.
Here are 8 tips I use to take better vacation photos.
Take the picture when you see it.
Never think you’re going to come back. If you see it take the picture to ensure you have it. Often you come back a different route, the lighting may have changed or you get distracted. Many times, my favorite pictures are ones I’ve taken on the first day of a trip when I’m fresh and excited. I appreciate this when I get home and look back on the vacation.
When you visit a new destination you can go into ‘what’s next’ mode – anxiously looking around the next corner to see what vista or sight is ahead. But, some of the best photos I have taken have been of what’s behind me because it’s an accumulation of everything you’ve seen so far but from a different perspective. This hit me a couple of years ago while we were visiting Watkins Glen. As we walked around each corner, the view was more and more majestic, but when I looked back I was equally impressed.
Find a new angle
Don’t be afraid to get on the ground, hold your camera over your head or shoot through objects to get the shot. I love the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas and I have many photos of it from the front. It wasn’t until I was visiting on my own this past Fall that I realized you could actually take photos of it from behind as well. This was exciting because I was able to get the Paris tower and the fountain together!
I have also found that dropping the camera down can get a different perspective of a shot, as does holding it over my head. I have also shot beautiful houses through a gate or window and like capturing spaces from a side view.
Forget the filters
In this day in age, filters are way overused and often ruin a beautiful photo. If the lighting is off do a fine adjustment to bring out the details you want to feature.
Go back at night
Often when we travel we retire for the night and don’t think about capturing a location at night. This can be the best time because often you can get a string of buildings lit up or the reflection of a city in the water.
Years ago when we went camping at Letchworth State park, I headed down to the main Falls just after the kids went to bed and was excited to see them lit up. It was literally me and one other couple standing there taking pictures, which was a dream because during the day it’s hard to get a picture without a pile of people crowding your shot. Plus, the way they lit the falls at night really brought out every break point in the water’s course.
Set time aside to navigate just for the intention of taking pictures
Often when I visit a resort I will wake up around 6am just to wander around the property to capture it without the kids or crowds distracting me. I also prefer photos and video of a resort without crowds of people all over the place. It looks nicer for articles and I like those photos for my photo albums and to frame.
Make a list
If you are visiting a destination and you’ve seen a picture online that you would like to replicate write it down. Make a list of the photos you would like to get so you have a point of reference to keep you on track when you are in the excitement of a trip.
Get a tripod
Even if it’s just a small one, keep one in your bag for times when you want to get a group picture and there isn’t someone around or just want to ensure the shot you get is stable. Often if you are zooming right in on something it’s hard I get a stable shot. Having a tripod reduces these issues.