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Must-Take Vacation Snapshots

Everyone has that posed picture in front of the Disneyland sign. Or the staged group shot on a sandy beach. But what are the pictures that will really capture the memories and moments of your next family vacation?

Photographer Brooke Snow shares ten things to consider when pulling out the camera.

1. Begin with the end in mind. Knowing what you want to do with your photos before you take them will help you be intentional about how and what you shoot. Do you want to use your images for an album layout? For your blog? To print and display? Simply to share on Facebook?

If you want to shoot to print and display, think about what type of images you like on your walls. Are they scenic? Are you going to a scenic location? How can you plan around getting the scenic shot you want?

If you shoot for an album, taking the time to pre-plan some of the shots by writing down a shot list can help save you time and make you more aware of when those shot opportunities present themselves.

2. Capture the details in setting. Too often we tend to focus just on the people in our photos! Remembering to include details of the setting of our vacation can be an exciting way to trigger memories and sentiment. Down the road when you and your family are revisiting the images, it's often the detail shots that spark memories to share that may have not been photographed!

3. Capture the details in the surroundings. The small details in your surroundings can be an exciting way to bring attention to the sensory experience of how things felt, how they sounded, how they looked, and how they tasted! Detail shots in large part are a great way to help us relive the experience again and again.

4. Change your perspective. If there was one tip I could give people for dramatically improving their photos, it would be this one! Don't take everything from a standing position! The moment we get a little creative with our point of view and shoot from very low to the ground, or very high, or hide behind something and shoot through it, or find other exciting perspectives, we show the world a different way of seeing something.

Often on our family vacations you will find crowds of people or other family members with cameras. Take note of how many people just stand and shoot. This means that everyone will essentially be getting a similar picture. The moment you simply change your point of view you will have a strikingly different image that shows the world a new way of looking at something.

5. Capture the action! Action photos automatically come with energy and emotion! Static images are often the result of trying to set up a shot after the action has occurred. Just think of the difference between the roller coaster shot that captures you enjoying the ride vs. the shot standing outside the ride that proves you were there!

6. Seek for emotion and not just documentation! Not every moment is an action moment, but we still want to have emotion in our images. Emotion is generally a result of being patient enough to wait for the right moment, or interactive enough to bring it out in people. Consider ways to play games, tell jokes, ask questions or generally get people thinking about something other than their picture being taken to invite some real smiles and real expressions.

7. Remember relationships! Often times our vacation time brings us together with other extended family or friends. Take the opportunity to showcase these individual relationships with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, or friends. We always say we'll grab that photo, but it is easily forgotten!

8. Start a tradition or follow up on a tradition! If you travel to the same location every year, starting a photo tradition in that location can be a fun way to see age, growth and change. Consider photographing the same people in front of same landmark year after year, or doing the same activity.

If you travel to a new location every year, having a fun photo tradition can add anticipation, group creativity, and continuity in your albums. Perhaps its standing in front of National Park signs, maybe it's jumping on hotel beds, or standing at the pool in anticipation of the first swim.

9. Know your limits. Vacation time is often exhausting and emotions can sometimes get a bit edgy! Be sensitive to tired individuals who don't want their photo taken and remember that preserving the joy in an experience and in our relationships is far more important than getting a certain photo! There will be plenty of other moments that will likely occur after people are fed, rested, and relaxed again!

10. Know when to put the camera down! We want to use photography in our experiences to help us remember and re-live these moments again and again. Photo enthusiasts must remember to be careful to balance out our shooting time with the time we spend just being present and enjoying ourselves in the moment without a camera in front of our face. Once you have the shots you need, put the camera away and enjoy your vacation. You deserve it!


Brooke is a lifestyle photographer in Northern Utah and creator of the Brooke Snow Online Photography Courses. She thrives in efficiency and the pursuit of an authentic life. Much of her creative energy is spent entertaining the adventures of her 2 year old son who teaches her to see the world for its wonder. Visit Brooke at http://blog.brookesnow.com/

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