This is the Secret to Amazing Vacation Photos

Actions

Whether you're headed to Boston or Bora Bora, your pics should aim to capture the truest essence of your journey. Make sure these five snaps are high on your shot list — whether they're destined for your living room wall or your Instagram feed! (Or both.)

Dramatic scene-setters

Getting up at sunrise gave me the chance to photograph Great Sand Dunes National Park without a single person around.

Ahhh: Step back and take it all in! From city skyline to expansive mountain range, be sure to snap a wide-open view of the area you came to explore. This helps you establish a sense of place. Make it unique and up the drama by shooting early in the morning when the light is magical and there are fewer tourists crowding your shots (darn tourists!).

Portraits of the people

One of my favorite things about travel is the people I meet.

People are the heart and soul of every trip: Both the ones you travel with, and the ones you meet along the way. Of course you're going to try to capture the awe in your kids’ eyes when they first spot the Eiffel Tower, but, surprisingly, some of the best travel subjects are strangers. Build up a little nerve, and ask to photograph the waiter at a cute cafe or the old man playing chess in the park. You won’t regret it!

Capture the moments In between

It's easy to ignore the quieter moments amidst the hustle and bustle of the typical vacation itinerary.

It’s easy to hit the highlights. But sometimes it's at the expense of all the good, quiet stuff happening between the boldface events on your itinerary. Maybe it’s a shot of your toddler dozing off on the plane, or the musicians playing at Penn Station as you wait for the subway, or a quiet coffee with lovely light just reading in the hotel room.

Details that make a place a place

So many of my vacations revolve around the outdoors. I love capturing the signage of the trails I hike to help me remember where I've been.

Maps, mile markers, food and drink, textures, ticket stubs — photos of these small items add context to your story. Plus, they offer visual variety to landscapes and group shots (which you're bound to have lots of), which is really nice in an old-school album or scrapbook.

The lead picture

The canoe, the fishing pole, the epic sky in the evening hours over the lake - if I had to summarize a vacation in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in one photo - this is it.

If you had to summarize your vacation in one photograph, how would you do it? Be on the lookout for that superlative, pinnacle moment. But if you can’t find the perfect shot, don’t sweat it. You may surprise yourself when you flip through the photos at home, and realize the shot was there all along.

Next for you
Capture dramatic outdoor imagery! Learn essentials for anticipating scenes, shooting people in action, reacting to conditions and making the most of your camera.
Dan  Bailey
with Dan Bailey
Photograph the unique beauty of any locale like a pro!
Jad Davenport
with Jad Davenport
Everyone is always asking me what piece of fancy gear will make their photos better. The truth is, while new equipment is nice, it’s unlikely to improve your work on its own. In fact, extraordinary photos are made all the time on basic equipment (you've seen those iPhone ads!). Instead, I clue newbies in on the real secret for awesome shots: Make more photographs, don't snap more frames. Commit that motto to memory, grab your camera, and let's get started.
Now Reading
This is the Secret to Amazing Vacation Photos