Vacation Photo Tips

Vacation photos are often some of the most boring collections known to viewer. Who among us hasn't had to suffer through an overly long slide show (via traditional projector or computer "slide show"), or envelope after envelope of prints when a friend returns from a vacation? Here are a few tips to keep your friends from suffering this fate.

Vacation Tips

1. Take plenty of film (or memory cards)
2. Include people pictures
3. Include a variety of image types
4. Tell a story
5. Edit the photos carefully when you get back home


While on vacation, shoot subjects when you find them, but consider their potential in different light, and come back to reshoot if possible. Photo by Ron Leach.

1. Pick The Best Shots
As a photographer, of course you always strive to shoot interesting subjects in interesting lighting. But time constraints while on vacation mean you'll sometimes have to shoot under less-than-ideal conditions. That's fine; take shots of things that are important to you when you can get them, and do the best you can with the conditions you find. But keep in mind the potential for better photos. If you're staying in the area for a day or two, note subjects that might look better at a different time of day, or in different weather, and go reshoot them then if possible.

When you get back home and prepare your vacation presentation, examine the images carefully. Weed out the poorly exposed, the out-of-focus, the badly composed, the just plain boring. There's nothing wrong with making shots that mean something only to you. But think about how much interest each shot will have to members of your viewing audience. You might even consider putting together more than one presentation, gearing each toward a different group of viewers.

Watch for interesting people pictures wherever you go. Photo by Ron Leach

Including a person can add human interest as well as a graphical element. Photo by Dennis Eodice

2. Oh, The Humanity!
Most people are interested in people, and including a human element is some of your vacation shots will add interest to your presentation. Photograph members of your group enjoying their vacation activities. Pose someone in a lovely setting to add human interest and scale (but shoot the scene without the person, too). If your vacation is a photo workshop, by all means get some shots of your fellow workshoppers at work in the field.

Include vertical- as well as horizontal-format images for variety. If you take your pet with you, be sure to get some shots of the pet, too. Photo by Lynne Eodice

3. Spice Is Nice
If all your photos are medium shots made from eye level with a normal lens, your viewers will soon be snoozing. Work some variety into your images. Use long shots to establish locations, then move in for tight shots and detail studies. Include both horizontal- and vertical-format images. Vary perspective by using moving in with wide-angle lenses and shooting from afar with telephotos. Shoot from high and low viewpoints as well as human eye level. Watch movies to see how top directors use camera angles, lenses and establishing/medium/detail shots in movies to create visual interest and tell their stories.

Speaking of stories, try to organize your presentation. Don't just present a random collection of images. Tell a story with your pictures, even if it's just a straightforward timeline tale of your vacation.

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