I recently returned from vacation in Charleston, SC, and even while on vacation, my trip was filled with photography. My husband and I actually hired a local Charleston photographer for a portrait session of the two of us, and I spent the whole trip lugging around three cameras everywhere we went! We bought a few souvenirs (mostly coffee and pralines), but we’re more excited that we now have (a ton of) photos to commemorate our vacation. Also, I ate all of my pralines already…
Since most of you reading do not take three different cameras on vacation, I’d love to share some tips on how you can take better vacation photos with nothing more than your smartphone camera!
- Create interesting compositions
Include a foreground, mid-ground, and background. You can also use items in the foreground to frame elements in the background. Not only will this add interest to your photo, but it can also help to set the scene and tell a story!
2. Change up your angle
Shoot low. Shoot high. Switch it up for a different perspective.
3. Don’t forget the details.
Capturing photos of details adds a sense of intimacy to your environment. You’ll find unique, little elements everywhere you travel, so keep your eyes peeled. These up-close shots bring the viewer into your story and add variety (and make them hungry)!
4. Include people in your photos
Include your travel companion(s), candid photos of locals, or crowds enjoying the same destination you are. It can be difficult to avoid photographing other people in your shots if you’re visiting any scenic or popular locations, so don’t be afraid to include them!
5. Include yourself in photos
Most phone cameras have a timer, so even if you don’t have crazy, long arms like I do, you can still get in the shot.
Bonus tip: Converting to black & white is a great way to hide sunburn!
6. Pay attention to the light
Photography at its core is all about light, so pay attention to it! Watch how the light hits your subject and where it falls of to creates shadows. You can also shoot with the light right behind your subject to create sun flares and silhouettes.
7. Look for pops of color
Bright colors draw the eye in and add interest to your photographs. Fill the scene with colors or look for one pop of color in an otherwise dull scene.
8. Convert to black & white
It might seem like I’m contradicting myself from tip #7, but converting to black & white is a great way to simplify your scene. Black & white is not only captivating, but it’s also a great way to remove any distracting colors or elements from a photograph!
9. Use negative space to add drama
Your subject doesn’t always have to fill the frame. Often, a smaller subject in and otherwise empty scene can create a very powerful impact.
That’s all, folks!
I’d love to see how you put these tips to use in your travels, so feel free to connect with me on social media and share some of your vacation photos or stories. I can also recommend some great labs if you want to create a book of photos or any prints from your trip! And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!