14 Tips to Get the Perfect Photo on Vacation 

 April 7, 2022

When you’re packing your vacation bag don’t forget to throw in a camera. Whether it’s just to make your friends jealous or for your kids to look back on in the future, taking photos on vacation are memories you’ll never want to miss.

We’ve put together 14 amazing tips to get the perfect photo on vacation. Whether you’re braving colder climates or sunbathing in the Caribbean there’s helpful photography tips for all.


  • 14 Vacation and Travel Photography Tips
    • 1. Take Spare Batteries (and a Charger)
    • 2. Don’t Forget Extra Memory Cards
    • 3. Don’t Put Your Camera in Your Hold Luggage
    • 4. Insure Your Camera Before Travelling
    • 5. Travel Light And Use One Camera Lens
    • 6. Be Careful Photographing in Extreme Temperatures
    • 7. Get a Waterproof Camera for Underwater Photos
    • 8. Tell A Story in Your Vacation Photos with Iconic Features
    • 9. Capture Candid Portraits of the Family
    • 10. How to Stop the Sunshine Squints!
    • 11. Add a Creative Tilt to your Vacation Shots
    • 12. Don’t Use a Flash for Night Time Photos
    • 13. Get Yourself in the Vacation Photos
    • 14. It’s Also a Vacation Remember
  • Tips to Get the Perfect Photo Vacation: Final Words
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14 Vacation and Travel Photography Tips

Whether you have a DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera or you just prefer to use your smartphone we can help you get that perfect photo on your next vacation.

We have put together a check-list based on our massive years of professional photographic experience, training, and knowledge, to help you, your family or friends capture every precious memory of your travels!


1. Take Spare Batteries (and a Charger)

Whether your digital camera has a dedicated battery type or runs off standard AA/AAA batteries, make sure you have spare. There’s nothing more annoying than going on vacation and when you take your camera for shots of the hotel or beach and that red battery icon starts flashing back at you!

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With that said, if your camera does have its own battery type, then it’ll also have its own dedicated charger. Make sure that’s in your case as well, along with an adaptor plug to suit the country you’re visiting.


2. Don’t Forget Extra Memory Cards

Along the same lines as batteries, always take additional memory cards with you on vacation. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, then you’re going to want to capture every moment. Don’t ruin that perfect moment by only taking one memory card for your digital camera.

Take 2-3 memory cards and aim for smaller capacities i.e. 4GB, 8GB or 16GB as opposed to one large 32GB card. This is to ensure that if one card fails, or dare we say, gets damaged or misplaced, at least you won’t have lost all your vacation photos in one go!

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3. Don’t Put Your Camera in Your Hold Luggage

Have you ever been on vacation and lost your luggage? It’s rare, but it happens!

That’s why we’d recommend in order to get that perfect photo on vacation keeping your camera kit in your hand luggage. Most digital cameras are compact, and light so won’t impact on your weight allowance.

Some vacation travellers worry about electronic items and security x-rays. But don’t worry, research shows, that it will not damage a digital camera.


4. Insure Your Camera Before Travelling

You’ll no doubt be travelling with vacation insurance, so it’s worth checking whether your policy includes accidental damage, loss or theft to your camera kit – just in case the worst should happen.

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If this isn’t included in your vacation insurance, it may be possible to include it on your home and contents insurance. Check with your provider before you leave – it’ll take the weight off your mind when travelling.

After all, there’s no point leaving a nice camera at home simply because you’re worried it ‘may get lost – that’s what you pay insurance is for! If you really want to capture the best possible photo, take the best possible camera with you.


5. Travel Light And Use One Camera Lens

Digital cameras can have hundreds of attachments, accessories and lenses, but when you’re going abroad it’s vital to travel light. Keep it simple and take a zoom lens with you; they’ll be great for capturing wide landscapes and portraits.

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A lens that works between 20mm – 200mm would be fantastic to cover a range of subjects near and far. It means you won’t have to keep stopping on your travels to change lenses and run the risk of dust falling on the camera sensor.

Carrying multiple lenses will only slow you down – no one expects a professionally styled photo-shoot whilst on vacation – you just want to capture the memories. (Remember it is a vacation after all!)


6. Be Careful Photographing in Extreme Temperatures

Beware a lot of cameras have optimum operating temperatures; if it gets too hot or too cold, you may find it won’t even turn on!

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Most manufacturers state the best temperatures to work within are -5˚C up to 50˚C. It’s really important to check the forecast before going outside.

Condensation is also an issue as well with digital cameras. If you’ve been shooting out in sub-zero temperatures, pop your camera in a ziplock bag before taking it indoors. Let it acclimatise for a few hours in the hotel before opening. Any condensation will form on the outside of the bag and not on the camera.


7. Get a Waterproof Camera for Underwater Photos

Depending on your camera, you can purchase an under-water housing case to take some amazing subaquatic images of the kids snorkelling, teenagers surfing or splashing about in the pool – all without ruining your kit!

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Alternatively, there are some fantastic action, tough, shock and waterproof cameras out there now-a-days – so it’s worth doing a few shopping searches on the internet.

You won’t need to play around with camera settings too much with dedicated underwater cameras. Most of the default settings are perfect for taking photos in the swimming pool or in the ocean.

The deeper you go the darker it will be. Try to keep around the surface for that perfect vacation photo.


8. Tell A Story in Your Vacation Photos with Iconic Features

When photographing friends or family frolicking in the sea or sand, bear in mind that some beaches look very similar to one another – therefore, how are you going to remember which beach you were on and when?

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Take time to look for details and props to set the location. This will make it more iconic when you look back on your shots in 10 years’ time.

Vacation t-shirts, the country’s flags, writing the place and year in the sand, iconic landmarks or the local cuisine. These are all great additional details you can include that will help pinpoint your memories to an exact time and place in the future.

Think to yourself, ‘if I showed this photo to a stranger, could they tell which country it was from?’. This will guide you to look for iconic features that are typical of the country.

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It maybe plate smashing in Greece, carnivals in Brazil, black sand beaches in Iceland or gaming arcades in Japan.

You don’t need to cram them into every photo, instead they could add a ‘visual flavour’ to your vacation album.


9. Capture Candid Portraits of the Family

Don’t tell the kids to say ‘cheese’! It’s the biggest myth of portrait photography that saying ‘cheese’ gives the best smiles. All it does is raise the cheeks and shows off a row, which isn’t a natural smile. It’s not a natural shape for the face and just looks contrived.

Instead, wait until the children are distracted, occupied building a sandcastle or eating an ice-cream – capture heart-felt candid portraits as they play. These are the moments that will be remembered and treasured forever.

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If you do want to capture more animated expressions then tell the kids you’re going to tickle them but be ready to take that perfect vacation photo when the giggles come.


10. How to Stop the Sunshine Squints!

The only downside to that summer sunshine is how bright it is! If you want to avoid furrowed frowns and everyone’s eyes looking half closed, then make sure the sun is shining from the sides (and not from behind your camera).

Of course, sunglasses always help, but the eyes are what really hold the emotional detail – so when possible, capture the natural look. If you are struggling, search out the shady spots under palm trees or parasols.

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Ideally the photographer should aim to have the sun behind them. But if it’s too bright position yourself so it’s shining side-on to your subjects to avoid the sunshine squint.


11. Add a Creative Tilt to your Vacation Shots

Dead are the days of the straight head-on shot. We see hundreds of photographs every day and the most stylish images are those with unique and varied angles applied to them – so get experimenting.

Before taking the shot, tilt your camera 20- 40 degrees, this will alter the perspective and add a creative edge to your shot.

If you want to take it a step further still, then move down low on the floor, and shoot upwards. Getting up close can make your subject look powerful and in charge. This can also bring about some fun and unusual shots – don’t be surprised when you hear a shocked Grandma say ‘Ooh, that’s different’, when she sees it.

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12. Don’t Use a Flash for Night Time Photos

The natural thing to do when whipping your camera out at night is to turn on the flash – please don’t!

Though it serves a purpose, it’s never very flattering. Plus, pop up camera flashes can be intrusive and startle people. Instead of capturing natural candid shots, you’ll be capturing ‘startled bunny in headlight’ expressions.

In those circumstances, how do you avoid using the flash? We’d advise to open the camera’s aperture or increase the ISO if you have a camera with manual controls. This will make use of the available light already in the scene.

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13. Get Yourself in the Vacation Photos

If you are on vacation with kids and adults, then use a self-timer or cable release.  Your digital camera may even have an app that connects wirelessly to your phone so you can take photos remotely.

Alternatively, get someone else to be the photographer for a little while; otherwise, you’ll end up with hundreds of pictures of Dad and the kids, and none with mum (or vice versa). Take turns, and even get the kids to take a few pictures of the adults, they’ll love it!


14. It’s Also a Vacation Remember

We live by the mantra ‘take your camera everywhere you go’, but we are also parents and families.

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So as much as we want to encourage you to capture those memories, don’t forget to occasionally switch off the camera to spend quality time with your friends and family – after all, you need to create memories before you can actually capture them on camera.

Tips to Get the Perfect Photo Vacation: Final Words

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our travel and vacation photography tips. They’ll definitely help you get the perfect photo on your next summer vacation.

If you would like to improve your photography skills to get you get the perfect photo on vacation, then why not join our free photography class here. It’s a short online course designed for beginners to give you ideal photography tips whatever you’re shooting.

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