Checklist & Tips on How to Photograph Your Vacation

Those sweet vacation moments and bucket-list travel destinations bring with them the urge to capture all the lasting memories. You want photos that not only show where you were but how you felt about being there. You want to tell the whole story of your trip, so you can remember and share it for years to come when you get home.

Here’s a checklist and tips for getting a collection of vacation photos that do just that.

Travel Photography Checklist and Tips

Before You Go

Tip #1
Plan Your Project

If you know what you want to do with your vacation photos when you get home—a travel book? A gallery wall? A family calendar?—you’ll know which shots you’ll need to finish the project.

Tip #2
Research Your Destination

Do a Google Image search or look at Instagram locations to see which shots inspire you and how others tell their story from that place to get ideas

Tip #3
Practice Your Camera Technique

Vacation is not the time to figure out your settings. Know which settings work for you, when to use them, and how to do them fast before you go.

Tip #4
Get Backup

Travel with extra camera batteries (and always check they’re charged!) and bring a battery pack for your phone so it doesn’t die before sunset. Also bring extra memory cards.

Tip #5
Insure Your Gear

If you’re traveling with an expensive camera, check that it’s on your home-owners or renter’s insurance, or look into separate insurance in case it’s lost or stolen.

Your Gear

Tip #6
Avoid the Flash

This is especially true indoors. On-camera flash—either phone or DSLR creates more problems than it solves in making images that are true to how they looked.

Tip #7
Keep Your Lens Clean

This is especially true if you rely on your phone camera. Wipe the front and back lens clean throughout the day.

Tip #8
Edit On the Go

Look into apps like Snapseed, Camera+, or Adobe Lightroom Mobile. Have these installed and get familiar with them before you go on your vacation, and process photos while you’re waiting around as you travel.

Tip #9
Go Panoramic

Don’t forget to take Panorama shots with your phone. They look great in Layflat Photo Books.

Tip #10
Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot in Auto

Yes, all the photo tutorials tell you to learn Manual. But you also want to enjoy your vacation without lots of camera fiddling. Today’s cameras are so sophisticated, that unless you’re an experienced photographer with time and patience, Auto photos do the best job on the go.


Tip #11
Shoot a Variety of Subjects

Go easy on the landscape vacation photos without your people in them. Instead, shoot a few. Get people shots, food shots, architecture shots, weather shots, local color, and local culture.

Tip #12
Shoot a Variety of Formats

Shoot a mixture of horizontal, vertical, and square photos of your subjects so you have many to play with for later layouts.

Tip #13
Get Your Subjects Interacting with the Environment

Don’t just shoot a group of people posed in front of something. Get your family in motion, touching and relating to the other things in your frame.

Tip #14
Don’t Shoot Every Photo at Eye Level

Get new perspectives. It helps avoid cliché shots and gives you something unique and yours.

Tip #15
Shoot Some Clichés

Do some safety shots. Take the vacation photos you’ve seen everywhere, take some photos with simple settings, get some easy photos—do this for backup, and THEN get creative. If something creative doesn’t work, you still have a version of the shot you can use.

One difference between travel photography and vacation photography is that travel photography is about the place, vacation photography is about you—your experience, your people, your memories, your feelings. It’s ok if the pictures aren’t magazine-perfect, they’re yours. Spend most of your photo energy capturing photos that show how you and your group felt while there. And be sure to get in some of your photos! You’ll want a record in 5, 10, 20 years of what it was like for you to be there, too. By following this list, you’ll have fully captured those lasting memories, and given yourself ample material to relive the trip as you make a book or show off your shots in another creative project.

Bon Voyage!

Travel Photo Books
Ready to turn your vacation photos into a travel book? Get started with one of our high-on-design templates or create your own custom layout.


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