Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tips for Unboring Vacation Photos


If you've noticed the light posting around here in the past few weeks, it's because I've been camped out at my parents' house in rural Maine. For an amateur photographer like myself, one of the most fun things about vacation is the opportunity to take lots and lots of pictures in a novel setting. It's rather embarrassing how many photos I've taken already, but all I can say is thank goodness for digital photography. And yes, like everyone else, I have dozens and dozens of photos of my family members smiling at the camera and squinting into the sunlight, but I am trying to mix it up a little. Those cheesy snapshots have their place, but I'm trying to come away from this vacation with some worth-printing shots, so I'm going for a little more visual interest.

Garden oasis

Here are some of the guidelines I'm trying to keep in mind to capture some unboring vacation pics:

1. Pay attention to the light.

This means avoiding those squinting-into-the-direct-sun pictures (oh my sun-sensitive eyes!). But it also means looking for that sweet light and dragging folks into it for impromptu photo sessions. If you know you're going to go get ice cream after dinner by the water at almost-sunset... by golly, bring the camera!


Misty waves

2. Vary the perspective.

Straight-on shots of kids smiling into the camera are cute, but they only capture one aspect of your kid's personality -- and often a pretty fake one, at that. I try to take a lot of photos with no faces at all. Not that I don't love pictures of my family members' faces, but it's a way to remind myself to capture other details as well.

Rainy day silliness

I can do it too!


3. Record the details.

I am trying to notice and shoot the other little details around us on this trip -- not just people, but the flora and fauna we meet and greet along the way. Especially when you return to the same place year after year, some of the details of your surroundings might escape your notice. But recording these details can help capture an even more potent memory to bring home and savor.


Reid State Park


4. Know how to use your camera before you go.

Duh. I've been shooting with a pretty decent camera for two-and-a-half years now, and I have yet to fully read the manual. Pathetic. If I had only known how to use my camera's super macro setting, I might have actually got this adorable little crab in focus, and not my friend's arm. *sigh* Lesson learned.

Out-of-focus crab

5. Bring your camera everywhere.

If you don't want to lug around the heavy camera, use your phone or whatever you've got. But you'd be amazed at the times when an amazing opportunity for a shot takes you by surprise. I'm afraid people are getting used to seeing me with a camera in front of my face on this trip, but as a result I've been capturing some unexpected shots. When the big camera is too much, I've been having good fun with the Hipstamatic app for my iPhone.



Chipmunk on bird feeder

6. Don't let your photos fester in your camera/computer.

I've started printing out (on my cheapo inkjet printer) my favorite shots as 8 x 10's and actually framing and hanging them in my house. Crazy, I know! But it's so easy with the whole digital thing to stockpile photos and then never do anything with them. And don't forget to share! Whether you use an online photo sharing service, or just upload them to Facebook or whatever, it's great fun to share your photo memories with friends. [Here's where I apologize to my Facebook friends for inundating them with a truly absurd number of vacation photos. I realize I have a problem, but I can stop at any time, honest.] And don't forget to print photos for those friends and family members that aren't online.

And if you can't get out of town this summer, you can follow these tips to capture some fun summer weekend shots. With or without squinting into the sun.


  1. Thanks for these tips! Loved them!

  2. Love the painted toes. Great tips and great pics thanks for sharing!