5 Photography Tricks for Capturing the Perfect Vacation Photo

Picture this: You’re on vacation experiencing the culture, architecture, and landscapes of somewhere breathtaking. You pull out your smartphone, line up your family and snap a photo, thinking “this moment is one for the mantle.”

Unfortunately, when you review your picture, instead of capturing the essence of the location, your photo seems flat. It’s missing that extra something that holds your attention.

The good news is that it’s not the lack of having a high-end camera that is holding you back from creating truly mesmerizing travel photography. All you need is to master how to use your scene and where to place your subjects.

Here are some tips that will have you heading home from your next trip with some awe-inspiring,  frame-worthy vacation photos.


Pay attention to your background

One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking photos while on vacation is not positioning their subjects in a way that works with the background. Look for things that are sticking straight up, like a pole or a tree and position your subject so that they are not in front of it. This will help avoid the object looking like it’s coming out of the top of your subject’s head. Also, try pushing your subject to one side of the frame instead of having them stand in the middle. This will ensure that your subject is still a focus in the photo, while still incorporating the scene.


Plan your shots around soft light

Great light can instantly help your photos pop. You’ve likely heard of ‘golden hour’, that time of day when the sun is lowest in the sky, creating warm, romantic light. Golden hour takes place just after sunrise and just before sunset and is often thought to be the perfect time to take portrait photos.

Although we agree that soft warm light can make for flattering portraits, we suggest planning your photos for an hour after morning golden hour or an hour before golden hour in the evening.

The reason for this is because the colours at golden hour uneven, distracting from the person in your photo. Further, the light changes quickly during golden hour, making it hard to predict.

Taking your photos just after golden hour has ended or is about to begin ensures the sun is still low in the sky, limiting sharp shadows. When the sun is lower in the sky, shadows are softened and flattering on your subject.


Use leading lines

Another way to create captivating photos is to strategically use the lines in your scene. This powerful trick used by travel photographers is called ‘leading lines’ and can help focus the viewer’s attention, directing their eye to the main subject in your photo.

Here’s how to do it: When looking at your scene, try and identify parallel, diagonal, horizontal, or curving lines. Perhaps it is a bridge, a wall, or a walkway. Place your subject so that it appears as though these lines are leading towards it, naturally drawing your attention to them.


Play with Negative Space

Negative space is the open area that surrounds the main subject in your photo (the main subject is known as the “positive space”). Negative space could be the sky, a field, a wall, or even a blurred background.

Incorporating negative space into your vacation photography emphasizes your main subject in a more dramatic way. It also prevents your image from appearing too busy which overwhelms the viewer and distracts from where you want them to focus.


Frame your subjects using the elements in your scene.

Frame in frame is another technique professional photographers use to thoughtfully highlight the subject of their image. Parts of a scene that you can use to frame your subject are doorways, windows, bridges, or tall trees with hanging branches. However, there are endless opportunities to use the elements in your landscape as a frame. Don’t forget to get creative by using elements in both the background as well as the foreground.

These are only a few of our favourite tricks to use when taking photos on vacation. If you’re ready to master these and expand your travel photo skills even more, check out our recent segment with CTV Vancouver.

If you’re thinking about having your family memories captured professionally, we can help with that too. Head over to our photography services for more info.

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