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Making The Most Of Your Vacation Photos

By: Amanda Ray Filed under: Film & Production

April 13, 2012

It’s that time of year again, when people are preparing for vacations and weekend get-aways. Maybe this year it will be a “staycation.” Whichever relief from the work and home routine is being planned, you will probably be taking pictures and it’s always a good thing to brush up on the basics of photo composition so that your pictures will be the best ones you have ever taken.

Here are some tips from Valan Evers, the lead photography instructor at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and author, and Becky Olstad, photography instructor at The Art Institutes International Minnesota.


Read the manual! Be sure to practice with your equipment prior to your getaway. Your vacation destination is not the place to be learning new technology. Developing a familiarity with your gear is one of the best things you can do to improve the technical quality of your images. If you don’t have the manual for your camera – you can find most manuals online.

Get closer! Proximity to your subject matter is an important decision in setting up your shot. Along with that, don’t be overly reliant on the zoom feature of your camera – sometimes, you can get a much better composition by moving your feet instead of zooming your lens.

Turn your back on the sunset!  Sunsets tend to be one of the most popularly documented experiences on a vacation – and for good reason – they’re beautiful. However, once you create your photograph of a sunset, turn around. The light that is cast by the sun at this time is some of the most beautiful you will see throughout the day.  So, be sure to also take a look at what the light is falling upon as well.  This may provide a new dimension to the photographs already taken.

Tell the whole story! A good story has many elements. Try to round out your photographic account of your vacation with a variety of shots. In addition to documenting the scenery, be sure to include people (both staged portraits and candid interaction). Detail photographs also often enhance your collection of images in the end. Among other things, they can be informational - like signage, or abstract – like textures.

Change your point of view! Photography can be a vehicle through which you see things differently. Don’t just record things at eye level – get down, climb up, challenge yourself to see things in a new way.  The subject matter doesn’t always need to be in the center of the photograph.  The subject could be watching a sunset, a race, or part of a larger scene.

Photographs are a great way of reliving great memories with friends and loved ones.   Although it is important to document the vacation or event, it is equally important to enjoy yourself. A good photograph is not a substitute for a good experience. Don’t forget to put the camera down and give your vacation your full attention from time to time!


The Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu) is a system of more than 45 education institutions located throughout North America. The Art Institutes system is America’s Leader in Creative Education providing an important source for design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University.

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