15 Tips for Capturing Breathtaking Photos on Vacation

Vacations are the best time to practice your photography skills.

Whether you’re exploring exotic destinations or relaxing at the beach, travel photography can elevate your vacation and help you preserve your memories. Here are some tips for taking your travel photography to the next level.

These pointers can help you capture breathtaking photos on your travels, making them even more fun.

1. Choose a Good Camera

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Travel cameras are not one size fits all. However, some specifications can make travel photography much more manageable. A compact design makes it easier to carry the camera with you everywhere.

Higher resolution and ISO capabilities allow you to capture pictures in high quality and low light. Fast autofocus and burst mode help you capture moving objects. Handy features like a fully articulated touchscreen and high-res viewfinder can help you see your work and adjust accordingly.

2. Flexible Zoom Lens

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Instead of carrying several camera lenses, invest in a single flexible zoom lens that shoots at wide, standard, and telephoto focal lengths. This lens allows you to capture landscapes, portraits, and distant buildings.

Choose a lens with a wider aperture to capture beautiful nighttime photos. But be wary when choosing the right aperture width. Lenses with wider apertures can be heavy.

3. Research Locations in Advance

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Before visiting a new place, make a list of all the locations you want to photograph. Note the best times to photograph these places so you know the time of day to reach the area. Browse other photographs of the same location to determine the best angles.

Research the local culture and traditions to discover what’s unique about your shooting location. Understanding the location’s significance can help you take photographs that capture its essence and showcase it in the best possible way.

4. Always Carry Your Camera With You

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Always have your camera handy because you never know when you’ll come across a scene that deserves to be captured. As a rule, ask for permission before photographing people or places of religious or cultural significance.

Find a comfortable day carry bag for your camera and accessories. A compact, ergonomic camera comes in handy here because it can be carried easily. Keep an eye out for unique photography opportunities.

5. Use the Right Shooting Modes and Settings

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RAW images give you the most freedom regarding post-processing and editing. But if you want to share your pictures right away, consider choosing the RAW+JPEG setting on your camera, which will save both a RAW version of the photo and a JPEG one. Carry several memory cards with you since this will require more space.

For the best travel photos, turn off Auto mode and choose Aperture priority, Shutter priority, or Manual mode. While each has a learning curve, your vacation photos will be all the better for it. Adjust the aperture and shutter speed to get different creative effects.

6. Prioritize Portraits

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Landscape photos are great, but nothing captures the essence of a place better than portraits of the locals. Many of us are afraid to ask the locals for a photograph and instead settle for a telephoto shot from a distance. Up close, detailed portraits are the best, so ask for permission. Chances are you will hear a “yes.”

When you find someone willing to pose for you, adjust your camera settings to capture a suitable composition. Use a wider aperture if you want a blurred background or a narrower aperture if you want to focus on the surroundings.

7. Carry a Tripod or a Selfie Stick

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A tripod can be handy for taking pictures of yourself or your family on vacation. When choosing a tripod, opt for one with a sturdy base that isn’t too heavy.

If you plan to take photos with your phone, buy a selfie stick instead. It can help you take amazing selfies and steady your phone when shooting self-portraits.

8. Use Burst Mode to Your Advantage

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Most cameras have a “burst mode” that allows you to take multiple shots in rapid succession while holding down the capture button. This mode is useful when shooting moving objects or at night.

Shooting handheld at night can be tricky because you won’t be able to stay still. However, since the camera takes multiple shots of the scene in burst mode, some of them are bound to be clear.

9. Be Creative With Your Poses

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When you’re on vacation, you want to take a picture in front of every new place you visit. But 300 photos of you at different locations in the same pose can get really boring.

Instead, focus on adopting different poses for each different location. You can use the self-timer feature on your camera, set it up on your tripod, and take some candid shots of yourself exploring the scene. Get creative with your poses and make your photos look more attractive.

10. Balance Elements in the Frame

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Think carefully about the composition of your photo. Use the rule of thirds to ensure you capture aesthetically pleasing shots. Enable the grid settings on your camera and ensure the subject of interest is along those lines and squares in the grid.

Remember to fill the frame with the elements you are shooting. If you’re capturing a sunset over the mountains, your frame must include the sky, the sun, and the hills — you can’t just have the sky in it.

11. Pick the Right Time and Light

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When it comes to travel photography, lighting is everything. Research the best times to visit the locations you want to shoot. Generally, shooting in the early morning or late afternoon gets you the best results. The “golden hour” is the best time to take landscape shots.

If possible, avoid shooting during midday because your images will come out flat and without detail. Obscure the sun behind a building or trees if you have to shoot in the middle of the day.

12. Focus on the Details

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Once you get to a famous site, you might be tempted to capture it in its entirety. If you do that, your images will lock like stock travel photos. Make your photos interesting by choosing one aspect of the famous site and using a creative angle to shoot it.

Try to see the scene from a unique perspective or choose a subject that hasn’t been focused on before. Remember, photography is all about your unique expression.

13. Get Creative with Angles

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Speaking of unique expression, use different angles and lighting to enhance your shots. You can shoot from the ground with a wide-angle lens or take a shot from a high vantage point.

Experiment with creating different compositions by using leading lines, diagonals, and frame-within-a-frame elements.

14. Learn To Use Manual Mode

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Shooting in auto mode is a great way to start your photography journey, but you need to learn to shoot in manual mode to advance your skills.

Learning to control the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings yourself can help you take more creative shots and experiment with different compositions.

15. Post-Process Your Photos

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Post-process your travel photos to make them stand out. Use any basic RAW processor like Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, or Capture One. Crop images to improve their composition and increase the saturation to make the colors look brighter.

Improve image crispness by adding clarity or texture or boost the contrast to make your pictures pop. Experiment with different editing methods until you find the one that works best for you.

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