Vacation Photography Tips For The Non-Professional

Pro Tips for Taking Your Best Ever Vacation Photos

Vacation Photography Tips
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Getting amazing footage of your vacation isn’t as difficult as it used to be. In the old days you brought your 35 millimeter point and shoot camera or SLR, a bagful of film and hoped for the best. You spent tons of money on film and developing and held your breath waiting to see the results. You had no idea if your awkward selfies included all or part of your head, and you lived in fear of accidentally exposing the roll of film with all your Eiffel Tower photos on it.

Thank goodness times have changed. You know right away if there was enough light to capture the shot, or whether your children had their eyes closed or whether you made it into the picture at all.

There’s still room for improvement, though. And there ways to make it less complicated. After all, vacations are about relaxing, not stressing over technology.  Here are a few tips that can make your travel photography better than ever.

Deciding On Equipment

Seasoned light travelers now have the option of packing nothing more than their smartphone for travel photography. If you scroll through Instagram you’ll see vibrant, professional-quality photos that were taken with nothing more than the latest Android or iPhone. If you don’t want to haul around a heavy camera and multiple lenses, you don’t have to. Smartphones have revolutionized the way we take photos, and you can easily capture everything from sunsets to evening skylines to up-close nature. You don’t have to settle.

The Forbidden Palace with morning sunrise in beijing city, China
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Some Tips For Getting The Most Of Your Smartphone Camera

The best tips aren’t really technical. It’s just about practice and a little forethought. Your camera has plenty of tools that will help you. For example, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest ways to capture compelling photographs. If you activate this setting on your smartphone, it will place a grid over your screen, which makes it much easier to implement this rule. Just be sure you are placing the subject of your shot in the intersection of the lines. Don’t just center the Eiffel Tower. Place it off to the side. Be sure to capture people, foliage or some other interest in your shots.

Be sure to keep your lens clean and use a photo app to clean up your shot, add contrast, increase saturation, etc. Just don’t go overboard. You don’t need to go crazy with filters.

A good way to get a collection of beautiful shots is to go big and then go small. Take the overall photo. This is a wide shot of the whole scene. Then, choose a detail, something smaller. Shoot that. Take photos that tell a story. Capture things like signs or other details that give a sense of time and place. Capture the culture and the feel of the location. Architectural details like doors make lovely shots.

Should You Bring Your DSLR?

With the increasing quality of smartphone cameras, more people are opting to leave their DSLR at home when they travel. Should you? It really depends on what your goals are as far as capturing images and what you think you’ll be shooting. Selfies on the beach? A nice sunset? The smartphone is great. Not so great for other shots, though. For example, if you are going to be taking photos of wildlife from a distance, your smartphone isn’t going to cut it. At this point, you either need a DSLR with a telephoto lens or a high-quality point and shoot that has a really good zoom.

As much as smartphones are great for everyday shooting, they do have limitations, so keep that in mind.

With that said, it’s important to plan if you are choosing to travel with a DSLR, especially with multiple lenses and a tripod. Today, airlines have stricter baggage and carry-on rules. Most people aren’t comfortable checking their photography equipment, so make sure your carry on luggage meets the requirements so you don’t have to unexpectedly check your gear.

young woman photographer taking photo on great wall
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Backing Up And Storing Photos

One of the best ways to ensure that you are able to take lots of great photos and preserve your memories is to have adequate storage and to back your photos up. Bring more SD cards than you think you’ll need. This goes for your DSLR and your smartphone. Take the time to transfer photos to your laptop if you brought it, or at least use more than one SD card throughout your trip so if something happens to one of them all your photos aren’t lost.

For extra protection back up your photos using the cloud-based service of your choice. Google photos is great. As soon as you hook up to wifi you’ll be backing up photos taken during the day. This is great because if something happens to your phone or camera, you won’t lose the shots, too.

Finally, be sure you get photos of yourself that aren’t selfies. This is so important. Selfies are fine in small quantities, but they start to look the same and don’t adequately capture you or the moment. Get someone with you to take pictures of you, or carefully select a fellow traveler or local to take a couple of shots of you.

Put the camera away. If you have a tendency to get a little shutter happy while you are on vacation, take some time to put the camera and phone away and just take things in without looking through a lens.

Finally, don’t forget travel insurance. If you travel with expensive technology, travel insurance can help in case of theft or damage.

Vacation Photography Tips For The Non-Professional
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