Tipe for Better Vacation Pictures

10 Simple Tips for Better Vacation Pictures

Being on this blogging journey has given us a crash course in photography. We still have a long way to go but the improvement from where we started is amazing. Since I still consider us novice photographers, I thought we could share some tips that we have learned along the way that would be really easy for anyone to take better vacation pictures or photos in general.

Vacation Pictures Pin

10 Simple Tips for Better Vacation Pictures

Photography is like all things, the more your practice, the better you get. If you are a blogger you may have a vested interest in trying to get better. What if you are just someone who goes on vacation once a year. Does it seem like a hassle or just another thing you don’t have time to do? Consider this:

  1. What would you rescue if your house was on fire? Most people consider family photos one of their most valuable possessions.
  2. Vacation pictures of your children and your family are lifetime memories. You want them to look good.
  3. If you could easily make your photos better, wouldn’t you want to know how?!

In case you think it’s all about equipment, we still take 90% of our photos on an iPhone. Smartphone photography is accessible to all of us. It’s also not about professional training because all of our improvement has come through trial and error.

Great Lighting is the #1 Way to Get Vacation Pictures You’ll Love

I can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to your lighting. Bad lighting will ruin your travel photos every time.

  • Avoid lighting that is directly overhead like midday sun or a light fixture above someone’s head. It casts ugly shadows and highlights skin imperfections (acne, wrinkles, veins).
  • Visit outdoor attractions early in the morning or late in the day. Avoid the popular tourist times in the middle of the day. Go see museums and indoor attractions then.
  • If there is no way to avoid the midday sun, find a shady spot to take your photo and face your subject toward the light.
  • Really Important – people often take photos in bad light because the view is in that direction. Example, standing in front of the ocean view and being completely in shadows while the view is pretty. Try to take a photo of you walking in the direction of the light without looking any the camera or a profile shot with your fact toward the light. You can also just turn your back to the camera like you’re looking at the pretty view.
Vacation Pictures Rule of Thirds

Transform Your Vacation Pictures With the Rule of Thirds

We have a tendency to want to place our subject in the middle. To get a more interesting shot use the camera grid and place your subject on the intersection of the grid lines. You can also use the grid where you place everything in the right 3 panels, the bottom 3 panels, etc… In the photo above, the top 3 panels contain mostly sky while the bottom 6 hold most of the subject.

To see the grid: Go to iPhone Settings – Camera – turn Grid to the on position. If it feels overwhelming to deal with this while taking pictures on your vacation, just take a photo with more surrounding area and crop it later using the grid. That’s usually what we do.

Vacation Pictures Natural Frame

Capture Your Vacation Using a Natural Frame in Your Pictures

If you can use a doorway, arch, window, or plants to frame your photo, it adds visual interest. Pay attention to any shadows being cast by your frame and make sure the subject is well lit by moving it/them into the light.

RELATED: 5 Tips to Look Better in Photos

Pena Palace Leading Lines

Find Leading Lines to Really Up Your Photo Game

Leading lines are an element in the photo that lead your eye somewhere. In the photo above, it’s the stairway. In the photo below, the rails on the stairway do the same thing. It can be a stream, a curving path or something that draws the viewer into the photo.

To find leading lines, just look around where you are taking a photo and see if you notice something. It usually helps to scan the area from further away than right up close.

RELATED: A Fairytale One Day Sintra Itinerary

Vacation Pictures Interesting Angle

Shoot Vacation Pictures From an Interesting Angle

Sometimes the best image of a monument includes it’s environment. In the photo below, this interesting structure was on a rooftop. Shooting up at it showcased the beautiful sky and felt perfect for Cuba.

RELATED: What You Need to Know Before Visiting Cuba

The Best Vacation Pictures Capture Movement

Whether it’s a breeze that ruffles your dress or catching the subject in motion, some movement in the photo can add an interesting dimension. All the images in this post have some movement. Ladies, this is your chance to twirl! Once you start doing vacation photos with movement, the static ones will look like they’re missing something. It doesn’t need to be an action shot. Capture something as simple as hair blowing. This is good news for parents who can’t get their kids to sit still.

If you are taking a solo trip like I was in Cuba, you can ask a nice stranger to take your photo. Pro tip: take a sample photo of the way you want your photo framed to show your new friend when you meet them. I took a photo of this doorway to show this sweet unsuspecting guy so he would know how I wanted him to take the picture. Then I did a fast twirl which he was definitely not expecting πŸ˜‚


Just Do It – Buy a Selfie Stick

I resisted the dreaded selfie stick forever, but in a pinch, it’s really helpful to have one. They take up no room in your suitcase and can really improve your vacation pictures. Buy it ahead of time because the ones they sell tourists on site are really bad quality.

I like this selfie stick because it’s also a tripod. It packs really small, has a bluetooth remote, will hold your phone securely and it’s so inexpensive. The tripod is great if you’re trying to get everyone in your vacation photo and you hold the little remote to snap the pictures.


Croatia Island Hopping view of Dubrovnik & Lokrum

How to Get the Best View or Monument Photo

Vacation pictures often involve photos of buildings or attractions. There are 2 really important things to getting the best shot of that monument or special view.

  • Have someone or something in the photo for scale. A waterfall looks good by itself but it generally looks better with a person in it to show how big it is.
  • Don’t block it! I see people at attractions all the time, get in the middle of the photo and block everything. Instead, think of your photo as a piece of art and compose the elements. How can you interact with it? Can you be walking out of a doorway in the building you are trying to photograph? Can you be positioned underneath, to the side, etc…

RELATED: Croatia Island Hopping

Wear Clothing That Stands Out to Make Your Vacation Pictures Better

Clothing that stands out from the background can really add another dimension to vacation pictures. Red or yellow will often pop in a photo. I like to keep a red umbrella which stands out on a dreary day. All white against a dark background also looks great.

If you plan ahead, you can take the perfect outfit to get your holiday card done on your trip. Imagine those perfect beach shots in Hawaii.

Edit Your Vacation Pictures

Most people don’t think about editing vacation pictures but a little simple editing goes a long way. This is post about how I edit my photos on an iPhone and these are my favorite editing apps.

  • Photos App on iPhone – click edit and the little magic wand at the top right. Often it really helps.
  • Lightroom – A free app and adding a preset to your photo makes it look amazing.
  • Snapseed – I mostly use this app to lighten a part of my photo that’s too dark but Lightroom does that too.
  • Facetune 2 – This paid app does tons like remove items from the background, blur the background, whiten teeth, fix squinting, etc..
  • Retouch Me – If you need something fixed on your photo but you don’t want to learn how to do it, you can use this app to pay for fixes. It’s really reasonable. I only use it when the fix is beyond my ability like taking 20 people out of a background of a photo.

These travel photography tips will really up your photo game. All you need to do is get a little practice. Most people know someone who wants help taking photos. It’s a great way to get practice putting these tips into play.


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49 Comments

  • Reply
    Moe Rock
    September 11, 2022 at 5:44 am

    OMG I never knew about the GRID!!!!
    I gotta admit I get a little worried about letting others hold my phone to take a pic. I’m afraid that’s the time it’s gonna be some due that’s gonna go “idiot” and run away with it. hahaha.

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      September 11, 2022 at 4:18 pm

      The grid is a game changer πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rosemary Davis
    August 11, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Thank you so very much for this amazing post!
    Many of your tips, I knew and have forgotten to implement. And, I’ve learned a lot too!
    I am now going to be much more aware of clothing colors from now on.

    Rosemary xoxord

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      August 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      I’m so glad you found it helpful! The right type or color of clothing can be the game changer in a photo.

  • Reply
    melanie silk
    August 5, 2019 at 3:18 am

    What a great post! Who knew I could do a grid on my iphone? Going to share on my facebook page for our bogging friends. You have provided such great information..thank you!
    visiting from The Midlife Blogging Community o FB <3
    Xx Melanie

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      August 6, 2019 at 4:51 am

      Thanks so much Melanie. Some simple tips can make such a big difference. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Suzana Barton
    July 31, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    I went to art school and never understood the rule of thirds was ON the grid line. Aha! Got it! 😳🀣 Also, now that I’ve read your article I’m expecting the idea of buying a selfie stick to haunt me. Don’t know why I’ve resisted.
    XoXo… Suzana

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      August 2, 2019 at 12:08 am

      The rule of thirds has multiple interpretations. It can be on the grid lines or it can be filling a third or 2/3 of the boxes. The selfie stick is surprisingly helpful, especially one with a tripod! The best part – it takes up no room in your suitcase.

  • Reply
    Peta Sklarz
    July 31, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    What great photography tips!! I love the suggestion to wear clothes that stand out in the photo, and the leading lines to show the person looking at the photo wear to look. Great post, and great photos! Love the set up of your blog, did you do the set up yourself? Makes me want to redo mine! Ha Ha Love, Peta

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      July 31, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you Peta. I did set up the blog myself and now I’m wanting to make the navigation more intuitive. It’s a never ending process of improvement! πŸ˜‚

  • Reply
    Barbie Holmes
    July 31, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Jen! Thank you for all of these valuable tips! I am learning Lightroom and playing with presets. I am going to share this post with my hubby, Big Rich, so he can get a better idea of what to do. I think he will be surprised so much can be accomplished using an iphone. I’ll keep practicing and referring to your tips. Sharing to my social media! XO

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      July 31, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      So glad you find it helpful. I’m already learning some new things you can do with the phone that I can’t wait to share.

  • Reply
    aditi oberoi malhotra
    July 30, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    All your pictures look amazing. Thanks for the tips.
    Adi xx

  • Reply
    Jamila
    July 3, 2019 at 2:37 am

    As someone who owns a Samsung phone, I must say that your iPhone takes some pretty amazing pictures! What model of iPhone do you use? I just might consider making the switch. Cheers! – http://www.jamilakyari.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      July 6, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      We have the iPhone XS Max and are really happy with it. A DSLR would give us better clarity but the iPhone is just so easy and portable.

  • Reply
    SundayDahlias
    June 29, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Love these tips! I think the clothing one is super important! Colorful and bright pieces make you pop!

    http://www.sundaydahlias.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      July 6, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Love that! Popping off the background definitely makes the photo more visually interesting.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    June 27, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Great tips! I love the first one! For me lighting is key!

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 28, 2019 at 12:54 am

      Lighting makes the biggest difference!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 27, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    You always have the loveliest shots dear! These are stunning photos. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    Jessica

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 28, 2019 at 12:46 am

      That’s so sweet and means so much coming from you. You have the most amazing photos!

  • Reply
    Kara
    June 26, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Your travel photos are always so beautiful, so thank you for sharing these really helpful tips! The rule of thirds is something I need to remember to use more often, and capturing movement is always a favorite of mine.

    x Kara

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 28, 2019 at 12:50 am

      Thanks for reading! I use the rule of thirds much more when I’m cropping because it doesn’t always happen in the moment.

  • Reply
    kara fox
    June 26, 2019 at 1:18 am

    I just ordered the selfie stick!

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 28, 2019 at 12:52 am

      It’s definitely so helpful!

  • Reply
    Diana
    June 25, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    You have such beautiful photos, these are great tips! I think capturing the moment is a great tip and makes for the best kinds of photos xx

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you. I definitely agree. Capturing the moment, especially with vacation photos is the essence of the trip.

  • Reply
    jade bevan
    June 25, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    wow stunnning photos!!

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 28, 2019 at 12:54 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    aditi oberoi malhotra
    June 25, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Such amazing pictures. Thanks for the tips!
    Adi xx | http://www.fancycorrectitude.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Margot
    June 25, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Such amazing tips 1
    I love to use Lightroom.
    xx
    Margot
    https://troughthepasturesofthesky.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      I like Lightroom too for using presets and minor adjustments to lighting and colors.

  • Reply
    Juliet
    June 25, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Very helpful! I look forward to your editing tips post! xo

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks for reading. I’ll try to get the editing post out soon.

  • Reply
    Kelli
    June 24, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    Such great tips Jenifer!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 12:07 am

      Thanks Kelli!

  • Reply
    Vidhi
    June 24, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Wow thanks so much for sharing this. I have always admired your travel photos and even thought about asking you how you do it before going on my next trip. (I might be sending you a DM sometime soon). But love these tips! πŸ™‚
    -Vidhi
    http://www.coffeevschai.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 25, 2019 at 12:07 am

      Thanks Vidhi! I really appreciate it. Send me a DM anytime.

  • Reply
    Simone
    June 24, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Photography is such a difficult task. Your tips are very amazing, I do always have problems with the perfect light. Your shots are all so amazing!

    xx Simone

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 24, 2019 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks so much Simone. Lighting is difficult in less than perfect circumstances. Most of my editing is dealing with lighting issues ;).

    • Reply
      Jules
      June 24, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      Agreed! Lighting is important. My insta husband πŸ˜† has been my photographer since I started blogging. Thankful that he’s been very supportive!

      • Reply
        Jenifer
        June 25, 2019 at 12:08 am

        It’s all about the light and really nice husbands πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Allie Mackin
    June 24, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    So true about photography and blogging. I discovered this is one of the things I love the most about taking up blogging. And you laid out some great and useful tips here. Thanks for such an informative post!

    Allie of
    http://www.allienyc.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 24, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Allie! I have come to appreciate the challenge but the whole photo thing was stressful for me in the beginning. That’s why I hope to help other people who shy away from the camera like I did.

  • Reply
    Yiota
    June 24, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Your photos are amazing, your instagram feed is fab!!! I think lighting is the most important thing for me, finding good natural lighting for my outfit photos! x

    Yiota
    pinkdaisyloves.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 24, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you Yiota! Good lighting is by far the most important factor for a great photo.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    June 24, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    These are amazing tips! I am going to start using my grid!

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Reply
      Jenifer
      June 24, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      Glad you liked them. If the grid is hard to use while taking photos, you can also use it to crop afterward.

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