Vacation Pictures!

This is “officially” the second week of summer so I wanted to post some “summer theme” thoughts…

We went on vacation early this year (the day after the kids got out of school). I wasn’t as prepared for taking vacation photos as I would have liked to be-especially since we went to Rome! I got some good ones somehow, but I wanted to share some ideas on how to be prepared for your vacation pictures while keeping it really simple.

I’m not a lifestyle photographer so I’m not really good at documenting the “kids in underwear running around the hotel room” moments. I’m afraid I just don’t have the eye for that type of capture (I’ll regret that someday; I’m sure). I’m drawn to beautiful backgrounds and catching my kids in good light not necessarily looking at the camera. This means that my vacation photos aren’t as plentiful as some families. As we all know, though, vacation photos are for those that were on the vacation not for mass audiences (picture the old “come over to my house for a vacation photo slide show” party). How many photos you take is a personal choice-you know your family. Which brings me to a simple vacation photo plan..

1. Decide how many total “image keepers” you would like from your vacation. Most photo books will have at least 10-15 pages which means 20-30 photos at the low-end. Of course, if you like the scrapbook style with captions you might have some planning to do here (i.e. 2 photos per page with words and fun graphics or embellishments). Once you decide the total number of finished images that you would like to have then multiply that times 10-20. This number is based on the idea that you are pretty good with your camera meaning you can put it on auto and take a fairly good picture (a phone camera works here too). I remember photographing with film and getting a role of 24 exp and keeping 1 (but it was worth it)!

Here is one that I KNEW that I would want while we were vacationing in Rome, so I took about 6 and got this one that I liked and reminded me of how it felt to view the coliseum at night. This was in my “plan.”



2.  Remember you are the “Master of Your Background” (sort of..). One of the most important things that helped me take better images was when I took control of my background and what was in my image. I used to be so afraid I would miss a moment, a beautiful view or a wonderful feeling that I would snap my shutter so fast and furious. All I got was a mass of wrong angles, bad lighting and people either talking or blinking. Usually*, it is OK to have people sit or stand together for a moment, move around for better light or abandon an image altogether until you get it right in your viewfinder. I always tell people to get together and relax while I get the light and angle correct and THEN ask them to pose, smile whatever. Most people are OK with this-we all need to slow down anyway 🙂

Here is an example of how I rushed the shot and got some water shutoff thing in my picture when all I had to do was ask my subjects to move to the right..


Here I did better, but I could have moved just a little to the left and gotten all fountain and greenery in the background with better light on the subject on the right..Also, his head is divided by greenery and white wall. It makes it look more “everyday snapshotty.”


Of course, I have to mention that the more subjects the harder it is to get a good happy picture, but I am the Mom and I could have wielded more power here 🙂

*Usually does NOT include toddlers or young boys, really important moments (like you see the Pope), etc.  In those instances just do your best and take as many photos as possible.  That is what makes digital sooo awesome!

3. Be sure to get in the photos!! Boy, do I always blow this one! I am famous for thinking that no one but me can take the picture, forgetting that all my kids will see one day is that Mom was never in the pictures..”Was she even with us on that trip??”

I did give way on this trip to get a few with me in them. I gave the camera to our  Driver and put it on auto. By the way, he was so proud that he got the fountain in the picture (I loved him!).


I was only going to make this (3) points, but I have to add an addendum.

Addendum: Download your pictures as soon as is physically possible when you get home. You need them to get off your camera card and on your computer (they are now in two places), and you need to back them up (three places). Hook up your phone to the computer and download phone pictures or save them to icloud and download them from there. Save that camera card until you have discarded the ones you don’t like and you have saved them somewhere safe AND you have printed them. Please, please, PLEASE print them!!  You don’t have to do anything fancy if you don’t want to. Artifact Uprising has the best photo books that do a great job showcasing photos from all cameras (including phone cameras). Here is their website. Even if you are not into photo books or scrapbooks, your kids or (yikes!) grand kids might be. I will do a special post sometime on how much I enjoyed looking through albums when I was young. My children love looking through our old ones even now.

If all else fails-get at least one good picture if you can. You can always print it for a tabletop frame or even wall art. Your family will thank you someday for documenting those fleeting few days when you were all together away from home and enjoying being a family!



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