Once I started photographing my vacations with more intention, I saw a drastic improvement in the quality of my photos.
When I incorporate more meaning and purpose into the shots I take, I am left with a beautiful vacation story that reminds me of the soulful reasons I fell in love with photography.
Here are a few techniques that can be used…
1. Take advantage of your vacation home lighting
Vacation homes, condos, and hotels can have some of the most beautiful window light and sometimes, I am so focused on capturing the outdoor scenery that I forget to capture the moments taking place inside the vacation home.
As soon as I settle in, I walk through and look for areas that have beautiful window light. This can include harsh sunlight that casts interesting shadows, or it can be soft window light. I pay attention to how the light is falling, how harsh the light is, what time of day it is and how I can utilize the light for candid shots of my family.
I even may re-arrange the furniture so I can better utilize the light and any interesting shadows that might be cast against the floor or a wall.
2. Utilize sunlight creatively
Whether it is through a silhouette, a beautiful sunset or a sun flare, the sun can be utilized in many different ways to add more interest to your vacation photos. With sun flares, I prefer more defined rays of light that can be achieved by using a small aperture.
One of my favorite techniques for capturing beautiful sunsets, beyond the typical silhouette, is to use bracketing where you take two photos at different exposure settings and combine them during post processing. The first photo is exposed for the sky, while the second photo is exposed for the subject. I merge them as a composite in post processing so that both the sky and subject are properly exposed.
3. Capture the whole scene
Your surroundings are an important component to your vacation story as it helps create the mood. As I approach a shot, I take a step back and carefully compose and capture the whole scene first before moving on to close-ups. Wide angle lenses like the Canon 35L are perfect for this because they have a wider field of view than our own eyes.
4. Capture movement
If your little ones are anything like mine, they will be doing a lot of physical activity during their vacation. To capture their movement, I prefer to use a high shutter speed so I can freeze their motion. Capturing that mid-action moment leaves the viewer in suspense and pondering what might have happened next.
Related: 3 types of movement in photography
5. Don’t forget the props
I always make sure to pack a few fun props into my luggage that I will incorporate into the vacation photos in some way. My little ones love playing with the props and they help to more strongly convey their sense of imagination in the photos. Some of my go-to props are masks, floral halos, capes and butterfly wings.
Related: DIY project: Dream-catcher wings
I hope that this inspires you to document your next vacation in the most creative way, leaving your heart full as you re-live those sweet memories!