Don't Spend Your Entire Vacation Behind a Camera! How to Take Pics Like a Pro

Learn how to get amazing shots without spending your entire trip behind the camera

One of the fun parts of going on vacation is getting to enjoy the pictures you’ve taken when it’s over. But most of us fall into one of two camps — we either take too many photos of the same thing and end up feeling too overwhelmed to even begin sorting through them, or we don’t take any and end up with no documentation of our amazing trip.

But there is a way to take really fantastic photos of your trip — without spending all of your time with a camera in front of your face. Read on for some advice on getting great shots without missing out on all the fun that’s happening around you.

Use a real camera.

Your iPhone is always handy, so it’s a no brainer to use it to take pictures. But you’ll get much better quality pictures using an actual camera — and you won’t be compelled to check email or Facebook.

Line up your shot

“Take your time when composing a shot,” says travel photographer Wendy Connett. “When looking through the viewfinder, make sure your horizons are straight. Make sure there are no distracting elements in the background or around the sides of the frame, such as an errant elbow or telephone pole.”

Put people in your pics

A lovely landscape merits a snap or two, but what really makes a shot memorable is that you and your traveling companion were there — so include him (and you!) in the pictures.

Mind the details

Naturally you will want to get pics of the main touristy stuff you see (you can’t travel to Paris without snapping pics of the Eiffel tower, right?). But don’t forget to capture the little things — like the awesome display of pastries you drooled over (and consumed!) or the beautiful perfume bottles you just couldn’t choose between. These pics will evoke strong memories, even years after the trip.

Capture the moment

Posed photographs often end up looking stiff and a bit cheesy. Instead, catch your travel partner in the act, ideally when he doesn’t know you’re taking pictures – whether it’s trying on a hat or jumping into a waterfall.

Go for a close-up

Again, it’s all about the details so go in close and fill your frame with flowers, faces, bowls of fragrant spices you saw in a market – whatever captures your fancy! Remember, there is no right or wrong, there’s only what you find compelling.

Take turns being the shutterbug

Most couples or friends find that there’s one designated photographer. That person ends up documenting the trip, but often misses out on the moment. Why not switch off and see a new perspective? Alternate days and that way everyone gets some time to just drink in the scenery.

Stop with the selfies

Okay, we know you can’t resist taking one or two, but why not also ask a fellow traveler or a local to take your picture? It’s a great opener to meet new people and the end result will look better, too.

Pick a theme

“Aim to capture what is iconic or unique to a destination,” says Connett. “This could include landmarks, local cuisine, et cetera. In other words take photographs that convey the feel of a destination and what you are unlikely to see or experience at home.” For example, a relative of mine took pictures of brides in every country he visited and the results were really special and amazing.

Don’t shoot all day long

If you spend your whole vacay documenting it you’ll be missing out on those special, spontaneous moments. Remember, actually enjoying a perfect view can be more fulfilling than getting the perfect picture of it! “Limit yourself to taking photographs during early morning and late afternoon,” says Connett. “During these times the light is warmer which brings out detail and color, unlike the harsh light in the middle of the day.”

Put safety first

Never risk your own well-being to get a great picture. And remember, the travel experience is more important than the proof that you took the trip. So better to miss out on a photo op and a have a memory that lives forever in your mind.

Print the pics

Make a collage or even get a frame for those really great snaps. While getting comments on social media sites is fun, there’s something really pleasurable about looking at an actual picture hanging on the wall.

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