Thursday, June 19, 2014

Photographing your Vacation

I recently took a course on travel photography and the instructor gave some valuable advice on taking photos when you travel.  He said the first thing you needed to do is to decide on the purpose of your photography.  He suggested three possible goals.

  • Document your trip
  • Document your destination
  • Just take great photos
If you are looking to document your trip than you want to have lots of photos that include you and the people you travel with.  You would document what you are doing and with whom.  This is a very common form of photography for many amateur photographers, some of which only get out their camera out at vacation time. This is a great way to capture those memories to enjoy in the future.
photo by mbgphoto

Other people want to really capture the essence of the places they visit.  They will spend a lot of time making sure that they photograph all of the sites in the place they are visiting.
lighthouse photo by mbgphoto

The third group is people who don't care as much about the documentation as they do taking great picks.  Many "Photo Enthusiasts" fall into this group.
seashells on the beach photo by mbgphoto

Vacation time is a great time to take photographs and with a bit of advance research you can make sure you get some wonderful photos that will meet your photo goals.  Here are some things you should consider.

  • Research your destination ahead of time. There are many great books on travel destinations at the library or you can research your location on the internet for lots of great information.  Find out about events or festivals that might be taking place when you are there.  Identify iconic structures that you would like to photograph.  Make sure you understand the weather and are prepared for it.  
  • Pack you camera equipment carefully.  Make sure it is all in working order before you leave.  Bring extra batteries and memory cards.
  • When you get to your destination talk to people about where you want to visit and places to photograph.  Some good sources of information are hotel lobby clerks, employees of restaurants and shops and cab drivers.  Be sure to check out the brochure racks in the hotels.  If you are driving I have found the the information centers as you enter each state are a great source of information.
Jupiter Florida photo by mbgphoto

Photos on this page are all from a trip I took to Jupiter Florida last March.  They show the three types of photography goals for travel.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I love your photography, Mary Beth! Thank you for sharing these great photo taking tips. I've learned so much from you!

  2. I rarely go anywhere without my camera. I find I fall into all of the categories you listed at different times. When I vacation with family, I would say I end up in each category at different times during the week. My parents on the other hand, are always about documenting the trip :)

  3. I just got back from NC mountains and unfortunately I did not do a very good job of taking photos. Why? I use my old 3G iPhone and sometimes I cannot see if the image is in focus before I take it. Luckily, my husband does a better job with his 4G iPhone. Together we sometimes have completed memories!

    1. That's about like me, Mickie, as my only camera is my old basic cell phone!

  4. Mostly I document memories in my mind and heart, or with my cell phone camera. I do appreciate those like you, Mary Beth, who are true photographers and I am thankful you share your fabulous photos and picture taking tips!

  5. I used to create extensive travel memories photo books after each trip. I found the reliving of the trip through this process to be as pleasurable as the actual travel (sometimes even more so). Always enjoy your tips and photographs. One of the things I do now, in preparation for taking better trip photos, is to look at the photography created by pros in that region. It provides insight into where to go and what time of day is best.


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