Karen Schanely Photography

7 Ways to Rock Your Vacation Photos

Jul 06, 2017

I love to travel and explore new places, whether it’s driving to the city an hour away or getting in a plane to explore a different culture, and pictures are such a fun way to relive the memories! For family vacations, it’s also a great time to document all of us together, experiencing new things or places – like the first time playing in ocean waves – and hopefully having lots of fun! Here are 7 easy ways to rock your photos so that you can preserve your own travel memories. Vacations should be stress-free, so choose one or two to incorporate into your shooting, or go for all of them if you are feeling inspired!

1. Imagine your vacation as a story.

Stories usually have a beginning, middle, and end. Take pictures of your car packed to the ceiling with all of the luggage, your kids sleeping on the way home from happy exhaustion, and all the fun memories in the middle.

2. Capture the environment.

Whether it is the wide shot of the city skyline, a detailed shot of sea shells, or the view from your beach chair, be sure to get some pictures to help you remember where you were. When you are putting together your vacation photo albums, these pictures will help tell the story.

3. Look for words or signs that showcase where you are.

This can be the name of the city, a local restaurant, or prices and names of different produce at a farmers market. Anything that helps to tell the story of where you are and the culture or character of the place.

4. Use Movement.

Things are moving all around you – the waves hitting the beach or the roller coaster whizzing past you, and a picture comes alive when you catch that movement. Chances are your kids are enjoying an activity – swimming, running down a hill, or swinging. And you can get their genuine smiles and expressions during these fun moments. If you have a sports setting on your camera, switch it to that. Your camera will have a faster shutter speed, and unwanted blur will be minimized.

5. Watch for distractions in the background.

Whenever there are distracting things or people in the background of a picture, it pulls the eye away from the subject. Keep an eye out for tree branches or poles that look like they are coming out of someone’s head. If you can, move a few feet to the left or right to get rid of or minimize any distracting elements. Sometimes if you are in a crowded spot, it pays to be patient and wait for people to move out of the area, such as with these shots of my daughter watching the fish.

6. Be aware of the light.

Even though many photographers prefer to shoot in the golden light right after sunrise or before sunset, most of your fun will be happening during the day, and you don’t want to miss capturing that! If it’s cloudy or overcast, be aware of where the sun is (it’s still there!) and try to have your subject’s face turned toward it to help them look more bright and vibrant. If it’s full sun, you can look for open shade, such as under some trees or next to buildings, so that your subject’s eyes aren’t squinting into the sun. Or take advantage of the vibrant colors and playful shadows you can get when the sun is bright and strong! This is a great time to get wide shots of the environment.

7. Don’t forget the local food!

One of my favorite parts of traveling is trying local restaurants and dishes. We may even sometimes choose our destinations based on food… 🙂 Chicago’s deep dish pizza, Boston’s cream pie, Seattle’s coffee, Italy’s bruschetta, and Switzerland’s cheesy raclette are a few favorites that we have discovered in our travels.

Next time you travel, I hope you come home with many pictures that help you relive the special memories!

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