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.
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:
- What would you rescue if your house was on fire? Most people consider family photos one of their most valuable possessions.
- Vacation pictures of your children and your family are lifetime memories. You want them to look good.
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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 😂
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.
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…
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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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