12 thoughts on “What are your top tips for taking great vacation photos?

  1. Jim Dunaway

    Don’t take photos in bad light. In touristy places get up before sunrise and take advantage of soft light. You also need to be aware of the direction of the light just after sunrise and before sunset. Being up early will also give you shots with fewer tourists clamoring about. When you have cloudy skies you will likely have good light all day. When you have clear skies, find some shady places and look for macro or abstract opportunities. A creative photographer will not add another mediocre image of the Eiffel Tower; he/she will find something compelling that everyone has missed.

  2. Mike Linciucm

    I should have read what I typed before hitting the “submit” button. I meant to say where flash is “not allowed”.

    By the way, in most cases you will get better pictures, anyway. I have seen many tourists flashing away in huge European churches. A typical digital camera flash only is good for about 20 ft. max, so using flash in a place where the subject is more than 20 ft. away is just a waste of batteries, in addition to violating the rules.

  3. K Carroll

    1-Diagonal lines are more dynamic than horizontal lines, so try moving to one side to create interest in a shot.
    2-If shooting a group of people, give them something to do, such as raise their glasses in a toast.
    3-Try allowing something in the edges of the foreground, such as a wine bottle in a restaurant or tree branches in a landscape.
    4-Take your laptop on your trip, download your pictures daily, and use them in a public blog or a private journal. It will motivate you to document the special people, places, and images you encounter.

  4. Wolfgang Gunther

    Good advice, Eleanor!

    The #1 Kodak rule for good photography used to be: “Be there” – Rule #2: “on time.”

    Take plenty of photos, you are wasting nothing but a few electrons. While you do that, zoom in on the item that represents the story you want to tell. We just returned from safari in Tanzania and Kenya with 21,500 exposures. The majority are not first class, but I can now take my time to sort them out. If I had not used the high speed capture option, I might have missed the right expression on a lion’s face, or the spread wings of a vulture, or the lion cubs tumbling.

    It probably also helps to subscribe to Popular Photography for about 50 years.

  5. Masrud

    I’ve got a few ideas also.
    1. Don’t center the object. Have it slightly to the left or right of center. Also, some of my favorite pics are when I
    2. zoom in on and take photos of architectural detail. You’ll love looking at those later, for they’re what sets a building apart from another.
    3. take pictures of signs, e.g. cute pub signs and unusual road signs.
    4. take pictures of incongruity, e.g. a shot of a dog lying beside the door of a cathedral or a sheep next to a sign denoting a military training area.

  6. Scott Dressel-Martin

    Upon arrival at your destination begin a list of all the things you notice that are different from home. Do this for the first 24 hours. It will give you a shooting script for the rest of your trip. It’s surprising how quickly we get used to a new place and things that are very different from home don’t seem so different after a day. Also, take a picture of each of your meals when it arrives at your table. Dining while traveling is one of the most interesting and memorable aspects of travel and photos will help you remember those awesome meals. The photos also look great enlarged and hanging in your dining room and kitchen! Finally, think in terms of the travel story. Try to make your photos into a narrative or sorts. Double finally, take time to go out and photograph on your own without distraction. Other people will always have you hurrying and moving on too quickly. Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is spending an extra few minutes waiting for the light to change.

  7. Eleanor Kohn

    A few things I do. One: LOOK in the viewfinder before you take the picture! (sounds obvious, but really look at the total composition and move forward/backward, crouch down, until you have the best angle).
    Two: take LOTS of pictures of the same thing and DELETE the worst ones. Digital cameras are great for this! I find that the last one I take is USUALLY the one I keep.
    THREE: take what I call “Identifying shots” such as sign saying “welcome to San Francisco” or the GOlden Gate Bridge. Something that most people will identify with that location.
    FOUR: I take pictures of “odd” things synonymous a place, like food, for example. Sausages/beer in Munich for example.

  8. Nancy Fernandez

    Put people in your shots, either a traveling companion(s) or anyone. And don’t let the Eiffel tower or the tree grow out of anyone’s head. Pose people to the side of the scene. If shooting a street scene, wait until you see people walking toward you. You won’t like pictures of people’s backs as they walk away. Don’t shoot midday. Harsh light makes a poor shot. Always underexpose.

  9. Mike Linciucm

    Learn how to to turn off the flash on your digital camera! The many tourists using flash in places where it is now allowed is resulting in total bans on photos in many places. This hurts everyone who want to take pictures, including people who follow the rules.

  10. Eric Feder

    If you are taking pictures of people in front of, or in, landmarks, beautiful settings, etc., move the people close to the camera so that they are a major feature of the photo. If they are far from the camera, they will be very small and hard to see.

  11. Karl Dring

    Vacation Photo Tips:
    1) When you’re taking a picture of any body of water, ensure that the water line is 100% horizontal.
    2) In bright sunlight use a polarizing filter if possible. For point and shoot cameras, put your polarized sunglasses lens in from of the camera lens to get the same glare reducing, cloud enhancing effect.
    3) When taking panoramic scenes, make the shot more interesting by including something in the immediate foreground as well.
    4) Experiment with low and high angles to differentiate your photos from the norm

  12. Scott Spagnoli

    1) The best light is 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset. Worst light is the harsh sun in the middle of the day.

    2) Don’t be afraid to use your flash outside during the day, especially when your subjects (people) are backlit.

    3) Composition is important; remember the rule of thirds if nothing else.

    4) Take lots of photos of your subject and frame each one a bit differently; one or two will surely be keepers.

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