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Tips for Terrific Vacation Photos

by | Jun 23, 2010

It’s summer vacation and you’re snapping photos at whim trying to capture these memories to savor when the cold winds of winter return. But haphazard shooting will only find you leafing through prints or thumbing your iPhone at home and wondering why those beautiful scenes didn’t translate to breath-taking photos. But not this time. These simple tips will have you aiming your little pocket-sized point-and-click cameras and capturing the syrupy sweet summer images like a pro.

Get a Little Closer

close-up face image

Zoom in, focus and shoot for a great portrait

Don’t be shy. When it comes to portrait photography, closer is better.

Tip: Let your subjects fill the frame. Don’t worry if you’ve trimmed the top of their head or cut off an ear, it’s only a photo. So channel your inner Van Gogh and step-up…to your subject.

Change Perspective

vodka still image

Looking up at a vodka still shows it's scale

architectural image

Angle up for a skyward view of a unique facade

Photographing large buildings and architectural details can often be difficult, if not boring. But not if you change your perspective.

Tip: Try shooting a large building by moving up close and shooting up. This emphasizes the height and scale. Or go low like the limbo and capture a bugs-eye view. Try this for shots on the waters edge.

A change of perspective works well for portraits too.

Tip: Try getting above your subject and shooting down. Ladies, especially those multi-generational ones, will love the way it stretches the neck and reduces under-eye shadows.

Beauty is in the details

monarch butterfly image

Patience may be needed for some detail shots

cherries image

Colors and texture are brilliant up close

A small flower that lands in the pool. Little toes covered in sand or a hand grasping a bucket and shovel. Photographing these small details of your trip will bring back a flood of memories.

Tip: when shooting something small and close-up be sure to use the Macro setting on your camera. (It’s the one that looks like a flower). In many cases you won’t need a flash but you will want to hold the shutter button half-way to make sure the focus is on your subject not the background.

Forget the face

sandals in a circle image

Even faceless wedding photos can be fabulous

Hands and feet are a great place to train your lens. Taking a photo without faces doesn’t remove all humanity. In fact it often focuses it. Our hands and feet, elbows and knees show all different aspects of our personality and likeness.

Tip: focus on the extremities instead of the face. A handful of sea glass, or pretty painted toes are unique vacation reminders and can be deeply sentimental too.

Watch your back

walking on the pier image

A father and sons moment caught from behind

Capturing the backside often says more than those copy-cat cheesy grins your kids give up. When their back is turned you’ll get a natural posture and often catch a glimpse of true emotions; curiosity, sadness, excitement and peace.

Tip: Try to capture emotion over setting in these images. You’ll never say “cheese” again when you shoot from behind. Even your unsmiling relatives can’t ruin these shots. Just remember the backside may not be everyone’s best side. So frame your photos accordingly.

Play with your food

table setting with food image

Martha photographs her table, why don't you?

gelato image

Memories come in all flavors!

Food, drinks and other objects are some of the best vacation imagery. You may not remember the name of restaurant, but you’re sure to remember the fabulous seafood and awesome margaritas if you take their pictures. We’re a food centric society, why fight it. Photograph it.

Tip: food doesn’t look great with a flash. So try to capture images where natural lighting is enough. Get in close, use the Macro setting and snap away. Found a special micro-brew beer that you drank all trip? Photograph the can. Even a bottle cap or cork could be inspiration for a great vacation memory.

Go down under

underwater photo

submerge your memories with an underwater camera

Underwater that is. So many inexpensive cameras are now waterproof up to 8 meters. If you’re going on vacation to a tropical island, where you’ll spend most of your time on the beach and in the water, why not invest in a handy point-and-shoot with this feature. It’s amazing what they’re capable of these days. Whether you just want the safety of taking photos from the kayak without the fear of total camera loss from a few drips, or you’re hoping for a close encounter with a school of fish, an underwater camera is a must.

Tip: purchase a floating wristband for the camera in case it falls in the water unexpectedly. If you fall overboard your sunglasses and keys will sink to the bottom but your photos will bob along on the surface.

I hope these simple tips will tune up your photography skills for super summer season.


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About the Author

Brandy Wheeler

Brandy Wheeler is the Creative Director and right-brained partner at Visitors Media. She’s a pysanky-making figure skater with a knack for finding Petoskey stones at the beach. Armed with an Albion College degree in visual art and 25 years of experience in graphic design and marketing she loves to share her expertise in writing. You can also find her on-camera as the founder and voice of the Traverse Traveler brand.

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