Travel and Vacation Photography Tips, Part 2

June 30, 2014

Travel and Vacation Photography Tips, Part 2

In our last post, we talked about tips for getting your photography equipment packed up and ready for vacation travels. Now it's time to do some shooting! Here are some tips for getting great travel shots.

Capture it all.

Snap pictures of every aspect of your trip. Tell the story of your adventures by photographing the planning, the packing, the car preparations, the road trip, the taxi ride to the airport, the hotel arrival. Decide that's it's all memorable and photograph it that way.

Get up and at 'em early.

Shooting in the early morning light is always exciting because it allows you to shoot in the golden hour, the time when the sun's illumination is warm colored and wonderfully diffuse.

But getting an early start when you're on vacation has some distinct added benefits.

First, you can avoid the crowd and that's especially important when you're vacationing at a favorite tourist destination. Taking good pictures of a popular landscape or memorial can be a lot harder when the place is crowded and swarming with tourists. Getting there early lets you get ahead of the masses and allows you to take your time in photographing your subject.

And, secondly, getting your shooting in in the morning, while your family is still in bed, can give you time to enjoy the rest of your day with them. You can get up early, get out and do some shooting and be back before they even know that you were gone.

vacation photography tips

Shoot in the early evenings too.

Save some time in the early evening to do some photography.

Shooting in the early evening gives you another chance to take advantage of the lovely lighting of the golden hour. Some of the most dramatic and exciting images are often captured in the light of sunset.

Try shooting a silhouette against the background of a setting sun. For the most striking effect, be sure that your subject is distinctive, with a recognizable shape. It's also important that your subject be visually separate from its surroundings so that the contours of your subject don't run together with other objects and distort its outline. Remember that, since a silhouette lacks color, the shape needs to tell the whole story.

The photography opportunities don't end at sunset. Continuing to shoot after sunset can give you the opportunity to capture cityscapes and other architecture, illuminated for the nighttime darkness against a sky that still shows a lingering sliver of sun.

vacation photography tips

Go beyond the cliché.

When it comes to shooting popular tourist spots, mix it up a bit.

By all means, take the standard shots—the kids smiling in front of a local landmark, the family perched beside Mickey and Minnie—but don't stop there. Change your angle—kneel down or find a position of higher ground—to shoot the scene from another point of view. Move around a bit to find a different and unique perceptive. Vary the camera orientation. Some scenes look better shot in the vertical. Or shoot it both ways and decide later. Try a different focal length. A wide-angle lens can let you include more of your subject's surroundings. Get up close or zoom in to capture the details.

vacation photography tips
vacation photography tips

Include local people…

A place is as much about it's inhabitants and their culture as it is about its landmarks, architecture and scenery. So if you really want to capture the flavor of your destination, be sure to include the local folks in some of your photographs.

And don't forget to ask before pressing that shutter button!

vacation photography tips

…and critters too!

Don't forget to capture images of area critters. Just like people, the local wildlife is part of the heart and soul of your destination.

vacation photography tips

Include family and friends

Beautiful images of scenic landscapes, famous landmarks and local terrain are great.

But consider including people in some of those shots. A person photographed alongside a well-known scene can take your photo beyond a postcard-type image and add human interest and appeal. A person can also add a sense of scale to a natural landmark.

And don't limit this to posed, standing-still shots. Capture your travel mates doing things—lunching at a neighborhood bistro, walking, playing, dancing on the beach, perusing the local shops, hiking a steep trail, on a picnic—rather than just standing and stationary next to a local landmark.

By the way, don't forget to include yourself! Be sure to get some photos that include you.

In all these case, be sure to move in close or zoom in so that the people in your shots are recognizable.

vacation photography tips

Capture the local flavor

Keep an eye out for subjects that are unique to your destination and/or symbolic of the location. Dine at a local eateries and taste (and photograph) some of the regional favorite foods. Peruse the local shops for handmade hats, blankets or jewelry. Capture images of local fruits, plants and spices. If you are on a beach vacation, capture close-up detail shots of the seashells and other natural elements found in the sand.

vacation photography tips

Document your trip with a toy or stuffed animal

Bringing along a favorite toy or stuffed animal from home—preferably one that is both durable and washable—and photograph it in scenes and spots throughout your journey. Include the little traveler in pictures of landmarks and attractions, monuments, activities and special moments of your trip.

This kind of photo journal is especially fun for kids and makes for great memories and a wonderful souvenir.

vacation photography tips

Finally, enjoy yourself!

While we all love photography and the idea of capturing amazing images in a faraway (and sometimes not so far away) place, don't forget to enjoy the time away. Occasionally resist the urge to pull out the camera and, instead, just experience the moment.

Have a great vacation!




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