We have all seen them (or had to see them) – the commonplace standard pictures of vacation photography. Among other things, it is mainly people posing in front of well-known sites, in the middle of masses of people. And yet vacation snaps could be so much more exciting and unique! Often, all that is needed is to change the usual perspectives. And here are my very personal tips for better vacation photos:
- Take creative family portraits
We are on vacation, we have leisure, and a whole lot of fun! Why not invest a little time in a few amusing holiday shots with a difference? Vacation photos of the three of us (i.e. my husband, my daughter and I) on a trip are indeed hardly ever in the ‘classic’ style. We love unusual perspectives, unconventional image details, reflections, or #fromwhereyoustand shots. We had these among our holiday shots even before there was a hashtag for this type of ‘foot photography’. Family photo series à la “Bench Monday” are also a lot of fun. However, it is advisable to bring along a tripod (or a bag of beans) and a remote release, if you don’t want to rely on the photo skills of passersby.
- Don’t be afraid to let the main attraction play a minor role and play with the depth focus
Even for sites and must-see places it is worthwhile to approach the object in the photo from a slightly different angle. Famous tourist sites are very often photographed as they would be for a poster – mainly in the center of the picture and from the front. But why, for example, should the Eiffel Tower always be the main attraction on the souvenir photo? A new point of view and a new perspective can be much more exciting. In doing so, the actual sites can be reduced to playing a supporting role, they might even look small and out of focus. One and the same photo can convey quite a different atmosphere by using a diverging focus point and therefore a different depth of field. I love varying the field depth and setting main attractions into a hazy, bokeh background.
- Be patient and wait for the right moment
Naturally, I wouldn’t want to deny that sometimes attractions should get our full attention. After all, they are tourist magnets for a reason. This also means, however, that we are moving among masses of people who often have a less than positive effect on the photographic result. Sometimes it can therefore be worthwhile to get up really early and be at a famous site before the masses arrive. And if you are not an early bird, you should at least have a lot of patience to wait for the right moment. That is a virtue which a photographer should possess in any case and which will be useful for many other situations! Waiting for a moment where you are on your own is always worth it, be it in front of the pyramid of Chichèn Itzá or at the fabulous shell beach of Sanibel Island, Florida. Sometimes, despite all our best efforts and patience, we’ve unwillingly captured a stranger’s leg or other tourists’ body parts in our picture. Then I simply make use of the retouching facilities offered by Photoshop or PicMonkey (which is free) to eliminated them from the photo.
But note.. masses of people from a distance can also have their own distinctive charm, as this photo from a beach on Cape Cod proves.
- Go for a walk with your camera and have it ready to take a picture at all times.
Nothing captures the mood or the culture of a country, or even a city, like the day-to-day life of normal people. For that reason, I have made it a habit to wander around aimlessly at times when on vacation. I enjoy this most when I’m far away from well-known sites. I always have my camera at the ready in order to take pictures of people, markets, and mundane situations as I go past. My camera is usually set to automatic mode (contrary to other hobby photographers I don’t think the function is a disgrace), because you don’t have a lot of time to set up manually if you want to record moments from ordinary life. These are too transient by far for such a thing.
- Some trips demand special equipment
For years now, 2 lenses have traveled with me on all our trips: a 18-200 mm zoom lens and a fast aperture 50 mm fixed focal length. I feel well-equipped for any photographic situation with these. However, for some travel destinations it is worthwhile to think about upgrading one’s photo equipment. This moment came for me this summer on our safari trip to Tanzania. I invested in an additional 150-500 mm tele-zoom lens. Although we did get very close to many wild animals on our trip through the national parks of Tanzania, animal portraits like these, which fill a frame and are impressive, would not have been possible with my basic equipment. I was very glad to have made the purchase especially for this trip!
“I have a very good memory, but it’s short. Thank god for photography” (John E. Burkowski)
After all, I always want to remember our special traveling moments… and in a very special way.
Nic aka “Luzia Pimpinella” has been passionate about blogging since 2006. She loves traveling and good food. She is a freelance textile designer, compulsive do-it-yourself person, and keen photographer.