As a little kid on a family trip, I got excited to buy something to take home from the local junk joints. Now that I’m a parent and an avid scrapbooker, my favorite souvenirs from my trips are the vacation photos I take. I love to chronical the experiences our family has in different places we visit, but I don’t always take the best pictures. Here are five ways I’ve learned to take better pictures.
Keep All Your Equipment Together
Be sure your camera’s batteries are charged, or bring extras. I’ve had my batteries die at sadly inopportune moments and missed some shots.
Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have extra memory cards. I’ve spent many trips trying to decide which pictures to delete so I can continue shooting. This is not fun.
Make a List
For the organized among us, it helps to have a list of vacation photos you absolutely don’t want to leave your trip without. It stinks to print your pictures and find that you’re missing a shot you really wanted to have.
The Rule of Thirds
This is the probably the most stated piece of advice for amateur photographers, and it will help you take wonderful vacation photos. Many cameras and phones have a grid setting overlay in the viewfinder. Place the subject of your picture on one of those gridlines for a more balanced shot. Darren Rowse gives a great tutorial on this concept in his article “Rule of Thirds” on Digital-Photography-School.com.
Stabilize, Step in, and Watch the Sun
For landscape shots, use a tripod or set your camera on a solid surface for stability. When taking random shots of a location, brace your arms against your mid-section to hold the camera more steadily.
Step close to your subjects whenever possible. You will get a clearer shot than if you use the zoom feature on your camera. In some cases, you have to zoom in in order to get a clear shot of your subject. Make sure to stabilize your camera so your picture isn’t blurry.
Jessi Kittrell, owner of Happy Acres Photography, notes that the best time to take landscape photographs is one hour before sunset. Sometimes, the best photo ops don’t occur in that time. No worries, according to Kittrell.
“Just stick your camera on auto and look for shade,” she says.
Her fifth grade son, also an aspiring photographer, adds, “just not spotty shade.”
Take That Picture!
Seriously. Just take it.
Kittrell says, “People stress too much over snapshots. If I micromanage, I’ll lose the moment!”
Even though Kittrell has a professional photography set-up, she still keeps a phone or “point and shoot” camera for those special moments. She also encourages moms to pass the camera around so that she makes it into the scrapbook. I’ve come home many times to find that I’m not in many of the vacation pictures. It’s super important to get out from behind that camera!
Hopefully these tips will help you record your memories in a way that can be enjoyed by your family for years to come. Enjoy your trip!