David Abolafia

Taking Picture-Perfect Vacation Photos

David Abolafia


Once you’ve returned home and finished unpacking, the reminders of your just-enjoyed vacation tend to fall into three categories: memories, souvenirs and photos. And while the first two can go a long way toward keeping the experience fresh in your mind, it is the third that truly lets you relive the trip – where you were, what you saw, the people you met – with others. And thanks to social media, it’s even easier to create (and share) a pictorial essay of your journey with friends and family.

The trouble is, most people aren’t professional photographers, so when they flip through the vacation snapshots, they find them somewhat lacking. The pictures may be fine in and of themselves, but they don’t say anything besides “we were there.” Taken out of the context of the trip – and as time goes on, and details fade from memory – they eventually devolve into pretty ephemera, or disposable reminders of something from the almost-forgotten past.

So, what can you do to make sure your photographs remain vibrant – a critical component of your visual storytelling? To start with, it doesn’t require tons of expensive camera equipment – which is a good thing, because most people take pictures on their smartphones or tablets, anyhow, and don’t want to be weighed down by additional bags. What it does require is a combination of patience and planning. Put these virtues into practice, and you’ll have vacation mementos that are, literally, picture-perfect.

iStock_000041378116_LargeFirst off, don’t immediately start snapping pictures when you arrive at a particular destination. Not only does this prevent you from soaking up the scenery, but it also means that you’ll likely wind up with generic-looking photos that can’t be discerned from those of the thousands of amateur shutterbugs who’d been there before you. So, before you click, take a few moments to capture the memory you want, rather than just the image that’s there. Experiment with odd angles, get down low, zoom in close or shoot from above. If you’re traveling with others, shoot them interacting with the attraction instead of lined up in front of it. People in the foreground of a shot serve as helpful barometers for others to get an idea of the size and majesty of mountains, buildings, sculptures and other large sights.

Next, don’t spend so much time trying to focus on the ideal. Yes, there are times when you’ll have the so-called “best” light, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most interesting. Is a storm gathering? Snap a few pix in the transitional light of a darkening sky for more atmospheric photos. Not only that, but the storm can be a terrific narrative starter when flipping through your photo album: “Remember when we had to take cover in that old barn…?”

Photographing the beauty around usAnother “mistake” that novice photographers make is holding out for an unobstructed view. Remember, those obstacles add character. Shooting pictures from a tour bus, or out the window of a historic building, provides texture for the shot and encourages you not to go for the cookie-cutter panorama that everybody’s seen before.  Can’t get the right angle? Try a reflection shot, using water or a window as a mirror to bounce the image, or simply tilt the camera.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to have fun with your photos. These frozen moments should be reflective of the wonderful time you had, rather than posed portraits that lack pizazz. You’ve gone away to play, and taking pictures is an entertaining extension of the game. To book a spectacular getaway that’s worthy of a photo essay, give us a call at (888) 269-0182.

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7560 Commerce Court
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