Point & Shoot: Shooting Memorable Vacation Photos

Yes, you can include the sun in your travel photos—be sure to focus on an area away from the sun. Photo by Tami Wood


This image of the River Walk in San Antonio, TX, was shot with print film and manipulated in Adobe Photoshop Photo by Frank J. Leimbek


Vacations offer the opportunity to cap-ture silhouettes against colorful sunset skies. Photo by Pamela Reynolds


You can capture some intriguing scenics with digital compact cameras, like this well-composed image of a wintry tree against a beautiful sky. Photo by Mario Giannone


When shooting pictures of people in foreign lands, it's best to engage them in conversation in which you can ask him or her to pose. You'll get greater cooperation and more successful photos. Photo by Andrew Shmerling


It's fun to shoot pictures of family and friends enjoying vacation activities, like this appealing photo of a father showing off the day's catch. Photo by Shirley Smetana
Photo opportunities are abundant on vacations, so you'll want to keep your compact camera handy and loaded with film. The events you'll capture on film are visual souvenirs of your adventures and the destinations you visited.

A lot of people enjoy shooting pictures of their friends, spouse or family while traveling—and on a long vacation, you'll have plenty of chances to do this. Instead of posing your loved ones stiffly in front of all the typical photo points, take pictures of them doing activities and enjoying themselves.

Summer vacations give you the opportunity to take pictures of people enjoying water sports and other activities that can yield some exciting action shots. You'll want to use a high-speed film, ranging from ISO 400-1600. It's helpful if your camera has a zoom lens with wide-angle to moderate telephoto settings, but you can still get some great shots with a fixed-focal-length built-in lens. Plan ahead and find vantage points that allow you to capture the action as it passes by, like a spot on a beach where you can photograph surfers.

Many travelers visit national parks and other scenic areas. If you love shooting pictures of nature and landscapes, you can shoot a wide range of photos with a point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens. You can use finer-grained, slower film in these instances (in the ISO 100-200 range). Compose your images carefully and take lots of pictures, from broad vistas to close detail shots. Some compact cameras (including many of the single-use variety) incorporate a panorama setting. Use it to photograph everything from canyons to your entire clan gathered for a family portrait. Vertical subjects—like waterfalls and tall peaks—are also great for panoramics.

If your travels take you to a big city or a rural town, try to capture some local color by shooting a cityscape or the town streets. Your challenge is to find an interesting vantage point from which to shoot. Try an upstairs balcony at a hotel to photograph the street below, or just the right place on the street to point your camera up at high-rise buildings against the sky. Shoot close-ups of interesting architectural details.

It's often difficult to coordinate your shooting schedule with a busy travel itinerary, but you'll get best photographic results outdoors if you shoot early or late in the day. Pictures taken during high noon usually appear flat and washed-out.

Speaking of outdoors—especially if you're traveling to areas with lots of sand, water and sun—it's very important that you protect your camera gear. Be careful not to leave your camera and film in hot, direct sunlight or locked in an overheated car. Keep them in a cool place until you're ready to use them. If you're visiting areas with lots of sand, dust or water spray, bring some sealable plastic bags to store your point-and-shoot camera and film. You might also consider getting one of the single-use waterproof cameras available if you plan to do a lot of water-related activities on your trip.

And finally, think about telling a story with your travel pictures. If you enjoy keeping photo albums of various events to share with friends and family, it's helpful to keep track of when and where you shot each picture. If your camera has a data-imprinting feature that will date-stamp your photos, use it for at least the first and last few shots of each roll, so you'll remember later when you shot your images.

When you organize your photo album, make it interesting by mixing people pictures with your scenic shots and landmarks. Besides the photos you take, spice up your album with additional trip memorabilia, such as postcards, restaurant menus, or maps you collected on the road. And above all, make your vacation a memorable one.

alco's picture

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leonardo85's picture

It is true that when we are on vacation we love to click photos after photos, I recently went on The Greatest Road Trip of my life and I had taken so many amazing pictures.

marry's picture

I can already picture the sights I'm going to see during my vacation USA and I'm eager to try one of these tips! I don't plan to win any photo contest with the pictures I'll take, but they should be a nice break from the regular photos I'm taking usually.

leonardo85's picture

It is true we all love to click beautiful images when we are on vacation. I especially love the wildlife so I go on safaris, I like the open spaces, the beautiful trees and exotic animals are really amazing.