6 Tips for Taking Better Vacation Photos

May 8, 2018 / Learn, Create

On a trip to the Virgin Islands years ago, I learned of this fantastic concept called “island time.” Basically, it’s like regular time, you just do things slower. There’s a pinch more leisure to your day, a touch more relaxation, and a whole lot less stress. “That’s just the way things are here,” they say. And let me tell you, it makes you never want to leave.

It’s not always easy to relax and de-stress, though. But when it comes to taking better photos of your vacation, we can help take some of the stress off your shoulders. These tips will help you snag more of those cherished memories in ways you’ll be happy to hang on your wall. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll help remind you to live life on island time a little more often

Get Snap Happy!

Kid Flying Kite in Field

Hopefully you will have so many great moments on your vacation you’ll hardly be able to keep track of them. If that’s the case, you don’t want to wait around for perfect moments to come to you. Some of the best pictures are taken on the fly. Sure, maybe they won’t have the sharpest focus or be professionally composed, but the emotion will shine through.

So, don’t just snap one picture. Fire off a dozen clicks and you’re bound to catch a good one. Maybe even a great one. And don’t worry, there’s probably a lot of memory space available on your phone or memory card you can use up. Just remember that it’s not about perfection, it’s about reflection. You want to treasure your memories, not enter each one into a photo contest.

Maintain Composure

If you’re not a professional photographer, don’t sweat it. Great photography is emotional, first and foremost. But if you’re looking to level up your photo game, it starts with better composition. Here are some tricks of the pics trade to show you how to compose a great picture:

Photo Rule of Thirds
  • The Rule of Thirds: No, there’s no math involved here. Line up your photos along these standard grid lines to guide the positioning of your subject. Most cameras have an option to turn on the grid lines if you want to use them until you get used to it. For more on the rule of thirds, check out this article by Expert Photography!
  • Get Deep: For photos with a sense of scale, add more depth to your composition. Position something in the foreground, middle ground and background and you’ll take your photos to another dimension. Literally. It’s as 3-D as our 2-D cameras can get.
  • Not So Noisy: Lining up a photo of a friend or loved one? Keep the background as simple as possible. An ornate building with a bold pattern might be fun to look at, but it can easily take the focus off your subject. And if they’re wearing a loud pattern too? Clash city!

Sharpen Your Selfie Sensibilities

Selfie of Group of Friends

Did you know? The first ever photographic portrait was a “selfie” taken in 1839. Just think of how many were taken today in the time it took you to read that sentence. If you want your vacation selfies looking more frameable and less like a photo take in 1839, there are a few things you can do to make them pop.

Above all, take note of your camera. A lot of front-facing phone cameras have significantly less capabilities than the one on the other side of your mobile. Flip your phone around and use your main camera for higher resolution. Or better yet, ask a passerby to take your picture. You’ll get a better shot, and maybe even a new friend! And as for those selfie sticks? They’re not such a bad idea, as the added distance gives you more room to grab some scenery behind you.

Un-Ordinary Yourself

Photo fo Father and Daughter Kayaking

My family has a mantra for vacations: don’t do things you can easily do at home. Put simply, it means to try to be a little more un-ordinary while you’re away. The same should go for vacation photography. Sure, you can do the khaki pants and white shirt on the shoreline photo shoot, but color is in! Try vibrant colors for your wardrobe, or costumes, or props or really, just anything different.

Think of the most interesting ways you can take a simple photo. Instead of your run-of-the-mill selfie, snap one at the top of a parasailing ride. Want a photo of the group hanging out? Try taking a group photo while the crew is literally hanging out while repelling down a rock face (do take precautions, of course). Looking to reach new heights with your family portrait? Use a drone to grab an epic, sweeping picture you’ll never forget. A little creativity and fun can wildly transform your photos.

Don’t Forget the Scenery

Photo of Family Hiking in Woods

True story: I have actually come home from vacation and excitedly looked through pictures only to realize that they’re all closeups of myself and my family. Hey, nothing wrong with seeing their smiling faces, but what about the scenery? Don’t be like me and miss out on capturing your location along with your family.

There’s a lot of beautiful things in this big old world, and they make great backdrops. Try to balance your subject with a background that includes some iconic landmarks. Find a funny street sign and get a shot of someone standing beside it. Snap some “Foot-ography” of your feet in the sand, the tide, or on a cobblestone street. Take a romantic couple’s photo in the foreground of a mountainous horizon. Any photos where you are set in the location will make you feel like the star in your vacation documentary.

Take Mental Pics

Family Having Breakfast Outside

I’ve heard it said that the zombie apocalypse is already upon us, as most people are so zoned into their smartphones they’re basically zombies anyway. So maybe the best vacation picture isn’t one you can frame at all. Look up from your phone or camera and just take a moment to stop and breath in your surroundings, jump into the sea waves with abandon, throw the frisbee at the park, have a yoga session at a mountain summit, get a little ice cream on your nose.

There’s a difference between a “vacation” and a “trip.” We all need to get away sometimes, and that means from our technology too. Take your time and enjoy your vacation. And if you’re relaxed and having fun, chances are the photos you take will come out better anyway.

Bonus Tip: How to Frame a Vacation Photo

Sitting room with family photo framed in rustic wood picture frame

It’s never fun when the vay-cay is over. But if you frame your vacation photos right, you can make those getaway feelings last a lot longer. It all depends on what’s in your picture, of course, but the possibilities are endless.

  • Match Game: Beach trip pic? Try a rustic , weathered frame that matches those seaside surroundings. Mountain-top moment? Find a frame with an earthy color that matches the tree line. Night on the town? Make it gallery-worthy with a black and white print paired with a clean, white mat and slim frame.
  • Plein Ahead: Take a great landscape photo and you might need a double take to realize it’s not a painting. Plein air frames are ideal for those big scenery shots as they offset the image from the frame and help focus the eye.
  • Color Your World: Never, ever be afraid of adding a little color to your life. Big and bright colors are all the rage now and framing your photo with one that sits well with the color palette of the image will make it come alive. Vibrant metal frames pack even more punch and make for a shimmering spectacle on your wall.
  • Custom Curation: No idea where to start with framing? Then let us help you with our print and frame collection! Just upload your photo and you can choose a custom, Artist-designed presentation that we will mail to you. Perfect for when you’re still on island time.

Back from the trip and just can’t wait to show off those stunning vacation photo presentations? We wanna see! Tag us on social with #framingjoy and we’ll whisk our minds away to new adventures..