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Tips for Photographing Travels and Vacations

Not-so-fun little fact: I wrote this blog post a few days ago, ended up needing to restart my computer– forgot to save, rebooted– and it was gone. GOOOD Times. Let’s hope this version is better than the one I lost?!:)


Joey and I LOVE to travel. And as a photographer- and just as an excited traveler in general- I love to document it. I’m absolutely a tourist- and I don’t mind it the least bit. Actually, you could probably say that I act like a tourist even when we aren’t traveling– I am camera happy most days, and proud of it!

Through our travels- I’ve learned a bit about how best to document travel- mostly through mishaps on my part;)So I thought it might be fun to share ten tips for photographing travels and vacations…this is for both photographers and non-photographers alike! Maybe not all people like to travel– but I would bet that most people like to at least vacation, so hopefully at least one of these tips is helpful to you!

1. Don’t be afraid to be a Tourist:

I fully embrace this title, and you should too! You need to give yourself permission to be a tourist. When I close my eyes and think of a tourist- I often picture a traveler with binoculars, a Hawaiian shirt, and fanny pack…but it doesn’t have to be that way! (Unless of course, that’s your style). Every day is precious- and travels are adventures! Preserve those memories, and embrace your inner tourist!


2. Tell a Story:

Stories have a beginning, middle, and an end…and so do your travels and vacations. Document them as if you are telling a story…Photograph your airport waitings, your packing, etc. Don’t forget the beginning and the end!


3. Stories lie in the Details:

All good stories are made up the sometimes seemingly minute details…don’t forget to photograph them! Some examples may include: the currency if your traveling internationally, your outfit for the day, your transportation, your food, etc. 2015-04-16_0015

4. Capture life:

This may seem like a huge DUH- but, you’d be surprised how easy this is to forget. In many destinations– the scenery becomes the priority to capture. Don’t forget to capture LIFE in that scenery- and no I don’t just mean pose in front of an iconic building or gorgeous vista- capture life as it’s HAPPENING- candid moments are some of the most beautiful photographs! In the same way- capture candids of the life around you- some of my favorite photos are of local vendors selling their goods in street markets- or children in the Dominican Republic running towards me. Capture life as it’s happening around you.


5. Ask a kind stranger to take YOUR picture:

Oh goodness, I kick myself SO much for this one. While in London- I didn’t hardly ever ask strangers to take a picture of the two of us together- we have a few from our wonderful friend, Ilaria while we were visiting Greenwich for the day, and we are SO grateful for those! I only wish we had more in front of other iconic parts of London! So friends, please ask a kind stranger to take your picture! You won’t regret it:)


6. Don’t overpack, but don’t underpack either:

Consider where you are traveling, and pack your camera equipment accordingly- and make sure you have wide angle capabilities to capture grand vistas and amazing architecture! In London the widest lens I brought was a 50 mm…which didn’t always quite cut it when it came to the amazing architecture that surrounded us. At one point I had a 24-70mm lens, but sold it thinking I wouldn’t use it often. KICKING MYSELF! It would’ve been a great travel lens! Now I travel with my 50 and my 35 mm– a wonderful portrait lens, and a good wider-angle lens will serve you well!


7.  Backpacks and camera straps:

This is mostly preference- but whenever we are out for a long day of exploring- I VERY much prefer to carry a backpack with my equipment, than a purse. Backpacks distribute weight better, for me- and leave me less sore at the end of the day…some photographers prefer to carry a camera purse- which I do on wedding days, but backpacks, for me, are much more comfortable.

Ah camera straps– I’ve never used a strap on my camera…I know, I know…I should, but I’m much more comfortable shooting without one. BUT- when traveling- it’s a must (and something I really actually need to do)…When you’re exploring a crowded place- you can’t be too safe with your equipment, a camera strap adds a little bit more security– and can prevent you from dropping. (preaching to myself here guys).


8. Extra Batteries and Memory:

Just trust me. BRING extra batteries and memory cards- there’s nothing worse than running out of either. Along the same lines– don’t forget your battery charger…and make sure you have the adapters necessary when traveling abroad!


9. External Hard drives:

Whenever we are traveling, and actually whenever we’re home too…I import all my pictures onto a 2 TB external, and do all my editing straight from the external, and also back them up on another 2 TB external. Consider bringing hard drives to back-up your photos- actually, don’t consider…DO IT.


10. Stop being a Tourist:

I know, I told you to embrace your inner tourist…but at the same time, you need to let it go every once in a while. Put the camera down from time to time, relax and rest! Don’t be too heavily concerned on capturing, that you forget to simply enjoy:)


Hope these few tips prove at least somewhat helpful in your future travels!

I would LOVE to hear from you all- what are YOUR best tips for photographing your travel and vacations?!


** P.S. If you entered the Tax Day Giveaway yesterday- the winner was randomly chosen via both your comments and comments on instagram. Head over to my instagram (@photosbysarahbeth) for the winner announcement!

April 16, 2015 - 6:32 pm

Sarah Canning - Thanks for this Sarah Beth! I enjoyed reading this because I am always to envious of all of your travel photos. I am driving across country next month and can’t wait to get so many awesome pictures!! :)

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