10 Best Vacation Photo Tips
Guest Blog by Jill Welch, owner of Jill Welch Photography
School is coming to an end and vacation planning has begun. Regardless of where you’re heading, I’m willing to bet my morning latte that a camera is one of the first things you will pack.
Have your pictures been a disappointment on past trips? Are the kids’ faces dark and unrecognizable, are your “action” pictures blurry, are images hazy or too bright? Is your finger on the delete button way too often? Here are 10 easy tips for taking better vacation photos:
Tip 1. Use the “magic hour”
Aim to take pictures in the early hours of the morning or a couple of hours before sunset. Called the “magic hour” by professional photographers, these times of the day are when sunlight is soft and even in open areas, preventing half-light, half -dark faces, harsh shadows, squinty eyes, and pictures of architecture and landscapes that are extremely bright on one side and nearly black on the other.
Tip 2. Use the shade
If your vacation plans include snoozing through the breakfast hours, you can still take good pictures later in the day. The solution to harsh lighting problems during mid-day hours is to place the kids in light shade and use your flash. Another alternative, if you are in a private area or don’t mind calling attention to yourself, is to use a silver vehicle windshield shade to reflect light from the sun onto your kids as they stand in the shade. This produces lovely light that is even and looks natural.
Tip 3. Look around you
If you must shoot directly in the sun, avoid areas where tree limbs or other objects will create shadows on your subject. How many of us have managed to coax simultaneous smiles from all of our kids only to find annoying black lines splashed across their faces when we printed the picture? These shadows are formed from objects above or beside the subject. Look carefully at what’s around you before choosing a place to take your photograph.
Tip 4. Avoid background objects
While you’re at it, make sure there are no background objects that appear to be “growing out” of your kid’s heads. Examples are plants, posts, flags, tree limbs, or prominent objects in architecture. Move them to the left or right to avoid this no-no.
Tip 5. Check your shutter speed
Blurry pictures are often caused by a too-slow shutter speed. What does that mean in regular mommy talk? Your camera is not aware that your kids are running, throwing a ball, or jumping up and down. It adjusts itself according to available light. Try one of the “creative” modes if you have a DSLR camera, such as TV or SP. Set your shutter speed to a number of at least 240 (read your manual to learn how to do this.) Some “point and shoots’ have an alternative setting, usually with a sports figure icon, that also allows you this option.
Tip 6. Get up close
Try to get close enough to your family to capture their facial expressions and small details, such as sand between their toes, ice cream on their faces, or a brother and sister holding hands. Sometimes we over-shoot an exciting or beautiful location and fail to capture one of the most important elements of the picture – the people.
Tip 7. Avoid direct sunlight
To avoid hazy pictures, don’t point the camera directly at the sun. Turn around and have the sun to your subject’s left or right. This works well with architecture or landscapes, but refer back to rule number two when your subject is people.
Tip 8. Look for the light
Look for the light. Lightly shaded areas with a soft ray of light filtering in are a fabulous place to take artistic, soulful pictures of your child. Position her so that the light is falling on her face. Don’t use a flash. Also look for light emerging through windows indoors or other unusual openings in architecture.
Tip 9. Choose your timing
As in any other important activity with children (and adults,) take photos when they are well-rested, happy, and cooperative. Some of the best pictures we take are of people who are genuinely enjoying themselves, relaxing, or even having a quite moment and sometimes aren’t even aware that the camera is rolling.
Tip 10. Take lots of pics!
Take lots and lots of pictures! I do! Digital images are free and cards can be erased. Questions? Contact Jill Welch Photography and I will happy to try and answer them for you. Interested in learning more about photography? We offer a beginner photography course, “Take That Camera Out of Automatic,” twice a year at our studio on Williams Road in Columbus. The next one will be in July. Contact me for more information.
Jill Welch Photography is Columbus, Georgia’s premier wedding, senior, family, and sports team photographer. Please call us at 706-587-7976 or 706-322-5917 to schedule a session, a wedding or senior consultation, a spot in one of our workshops, or to find out more about what we can do for you.
Image Source: Jill Welch Photography, used with permission