Nikon Learn & Explore

12 Tips for Better Vacation Photos

Lindsay Silverman photo of a ferris wheel shot from below, against a deep blue sky

© Lindsay Silverman

Look for a different vantage point to make a photo of a common subject more unique. Shooting from below this ferris wheel, pointing upwards, this amusement park ride is juxtaposed against a deep blue sky for added impact.

1. Make sure your batteries are fresh (if your camera uses Alkaline batteries) and fully charged (if your camera uses rechargeable Li-ion ones); We’ve all run out of power at one inopportune time or another but doing so while traveling can be devastating.

2. Bring extra media cards. You don’t want to face the decision of having to delete images or video clips to make room for new ones in the middle of your vacation.

3. Do your homework. Research the location if you aren’t familiar with it. Once there, you can even ask the locals if there are any places off the beaten path that might make for interesting photographs or video. Taking maps or guidebooks with you on your trip? Take a photo of the family gathered together, with the maps and books spread out, as a fun way to start your vacation image capture.

4. Have fun. Look for unique angles such as carefully climbing high above your subjects, or getting the camera low to the ground for a change in viewpoint. Take both video and stills when you do this for more variety.

5. Take some candid photos during the vacation of everyone having fun. You can capture great expressions and moments when your subject isn’t aware that the camera is pointed at them.

6. Stabilize the camera whenever possible. If your camera has VR (Vibration Reduction), turn it on.

7. Take a shot of the nearby signage so it will be easy for you to recall where you were for a specific photo or video.

8. Zoom in on the details. Fill the frame with your entire subject. Fun photos at a market, for example, might be a shot where the entire image is a close up of one particular subject such as a basket of ripe fruit or veggies, or table full of souvenirs.

9. Shoot your food! It’s easy to take a great shot of a mouth-watering plate of food by using the Macro mode or zooming in tight on the dish. This is a fun photo you can take to remember the delicacies you enjoyed on your trip.

10. Take a variety of photos: wide establishing shots that show the whole scene, as well as photos that focus on one subject. This will help you tell a more complete story of your trip.

11. Pass the camera around. How will anyone know you were there if you stay behind the camera the entire time? Have others in your group take pictures or shoot video of you having fun too.

12. Follow these three easy rules of composition:

Rule of thirds: When you look through your viewfinder or at the LCD screen, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid over the scene. The rule of thirds suggests that the points where the lines intersect are the best places to position your subject. Doing so will generally result in a pleasant and balanced composition;

Most pictures look better if the horizon is positioned above or below the middle of the frame, not directly in the center of the image. The exception is when shooting a reflection;

When photographing people and animals it's best to have them looking into the frame.