Probably each of us would like to have perfect vacation photos. If he says he doesnt want to, it means that he didnt follow the tips below and nobody said - you have great photos from your vacation 😉 The following photography tips are for everyone. We assume that you do not have advanced photographic equipment, so they are perfect if you take your smartphone on vacation, a simple camera, but also if you have a camera with interchangeable lens.

1. Shoot sunset or sunrise with reflection

Pictures of the setting sun have an irresistible charm and bring back memories perfectly. However, due to the intense light, often the photo will be overexposed or completely dark with a bright spot. A good way to diversify such a photo is to capture, in addition to the sun and sky, the reflection of light in an object on the ground. Reflection in water is the most popular. We can use the sea, ocean, lake, but also wet sand on the beach (after the wave recedes). Be sure to experiment with the perspective - sometimes you will get a more interesting reflection by taking photos directly on the ground (crouch!) or vertically. In addition to reflecting in the water, you can use glass buildings, tiles, a wet pavement or paving stones. Recently we saw a trick with a bottle of water - pouring water on the pavement creates an artificial puddle where you can capture the reflected sun - what a brilliant idea!

2. Use the golden hour

As you may know, there is a concept of the golden hour in photography. In the simplest terms, light immediately after sunrise and before sunset is most suitable for taking photos. It is not just about sun photos, but basically all kinds of photos. The light then falls more parallel to the ground, creating more interesting shadows, thanks to which the objects in the photo gain depth. In strong light at noon, instead of an interesting portrait, you will get an intense shadow resembling a mustache under your nose. The same portrait taken during the golden hour will be much better. Note: the golden hour does not last an hour, this is only a conventional statement, usually you can count that the best light up to 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset. Below are two photos of the Grand Canyon. It looks spectacular on both, but check out the interesting shadows the sun gave during the golden hour!

3. Perfect composition

Many beginners put the most important things in the photo in its center. However, as it turns out, in most cases, you can get a much more interesting photo if what is its subject or place that focuses attention, will be in the so-called strong points of the image. If we divide the image into 9 equal parts (as in the tic-tac-toe game), the intersections of the lines will show us the strong points of the photo. It is on them that you set your eyes on the portrait or the villa in the distance in the photo of the landscape of Tuscany. If, on the other hand, you are photographing the horizon line or buildings, use one of the strong lines. Along it, set the key elements of the photo. If there are several important elements in the photo that together form its subject, try to put them in a combination of strengths or lines. Below you can find some examples of strength points and lines.

4. Photograph children and animals from their perspective

When photographing other people, we usually stand in front of them, lift the camera or smartphone and take a photo. If we apply the same approach to children, the effect will not be the best. The photo will look like a birds eye view. Instead, try to crouch or, when possible, even lie down on the ground (e.g. on the beach) and take photos of your children from this perspective. The effect will be spectacular. The same principle can be applied to animals or other objects that are below a meter. Below there are two photos taken in the same place and camera parameters. The only difference is that the one on the left is taken from above and the other from the cats perspective. Can you see the difference?

 Bird perspective and the right level
Bird perspective and the right level

5. Take care of diffused light

In the second point, we suggested to use the benefits of light during the golden hour. Unfortunately, you cannot always wait for the right conditions. One way to take a cool photo in bright sunlight is to diffuse it. It sounds scary, but in practice its very easy. A hat with a large brim will work well on the beach, when there is a tree or other vegetation nearby, the sun will also be softer when you stand in its shadow. When shooting in rooms with strong light shining through the window, cover the window with a curtain (preferably white, translucent, without patterns) and you will get a perfectly lit photo. Often a sail is hung above the patio or terrace, which protects against the sun and disperses it perfectly.

6. Night photo without a tripod

Photos at night or in low light require a tripod. We strongly encourage you to buy even such a small tourist tripod. It will make our task easier and we will notice the difference immediately. However, there are times when we have an interesting shot, but the tripod is missing for some reason. Then you have to save yourself by looking for something on which we can put the camera: a wall, table, chair, stone, box, backpack. Anything that is stable and the camera wont fall off. If the camera is crooked, use the camera strap, lens cap, or other items you have with you to level it to the desired frame. Then set it to night mode or, if possible, long exposure. The last trick is to set the timer, i.e. setting the camera so that it waits, for example, 3 seconds from pressing the button to take a photo. This is crucial because pressing the button will gently move the camera and the picture will not come out perfect. When you set the timer, the camera will stabilize before it starts taking a photo. Below are two identical photos - the first one was taken without a timer, the second with delayed trigger. Everyone will envy you such night photos!

Comparison of details - top photo without trigger delay, bottom with delayed trigger
Comparison of details - top photo without trigger delay, bottom with delayed trigger

7. Take care of the lack of “masters” of the background

The Internet is full of photos with masters of the background in the lead role. You can have a good laugh while watching them, but we dont always want our perfect vacation photo to be spoiled by a garbage can standing in the background or brightly dressed people who take our eyes off us and the wonderful landscape completely. When taking a photo, pay attention not only to whether the person in the photo looks perfect, but also to whether there is anything spoiling the shot in the background. If you come across the master of the background, the easiest method is to wait a while. Usually, after a few moments, you can get a better shot. Whats more, people will usually move away when they see that you are taking a picture (here a reflex camera and a tripod come in handy, we recently photographed a Christmas tree in a busy place and suddenly everyone, seeing the camera, started to avoid us). If the masters of the second plan do not want to cooperate (garbage cans usually do not succumb to social pressure), the solution is to line up - the photographer, the photographed person and the master of the second plan. Thus, we cover the inconvenient elements of the photo with the photographed person. Standing closer to the camera, the perspective makes the posing person cover quite a lot of the image, so even slim people can achieve amazing results 😉 In the comparison below, one step to the left was enough and suddenly we found ourselves in an empty forest!

 Same picture, just a step to the left and I'm alone in the woods ;)
Same picture, just a step to the left and Im alone in the woods 😉

8. Use “foot zoom”

In photography, we distinguish two types of zoom - optical, which is obtained by changing the focal length of the lens, and digital, which works like enlarging a photo on a phone - i.e. we zoom in a digital image. Just avoid digital zoom. Better take a picture without digital zoom and enlarge it on your computer. The optical zoom in terms of the quality of photos is completely ok, but unfortunately it makes the photographer lazy, because it means that we do not look for a good frame, but stand still and zoom in or out of the perspective. Therefore, we encourage you to use the third type of zoom - foot zoom. It is not a professional name, but the idea is very simple. Instead of changing the focal length on the camera (zoom in/ out), try walking a few steps closer or further away from the subject. You can crouch, go up the hill - look for a place from which the shot will be interesting. Foot zoom is especially useful when you take photos with a smartphone, because they usually dont have optical zoom, only digital zoom (the one we dont use 😉 ).

9. Portraits on zoom, landscapes wide

Another tip relates to the aforementioned digital zoom - portraits should be made at a greater zoom (longer focal length), and landscapes at the smallest zoom (shorter focal length). There are two main reasons why we should do this. The first one is quite obvious - the portrait is focused on details (e.g. a persons face), so we want to zoom in, while we want to show space on the landscape and we want to feel the space in the picture, so we have to zoom out. The second reason is less obvious - changing the focal length changes the perspective. Large zoom causes the so-called perspective flattening - therefore the face looks better (a wide-angle lens will stretch the image and distort the face - for example, it will stretch the nose). In addition, on a long focal length the background may blur a bit, emphasizing what is the subject of the photo - i.e. the posing person. With a wide-angle (low zoom) lens it is easier to get a photo that will be in focus everywhere, and because most of the objects in the photo are at a considerable distance, the distortions will not be disturbing.

10. Do not take photos against the sun unless you have to

Finally, lets go back to the sun. When we photograph, it is easier to have it behind us. As a result, the photographed scene will be evenly illuminated. The sky will be blue, the hills will be green, and the buildings will be evenly lit. However, you cant always position yourself to have the sun behind you (possibly on your side). When we have both the photographed object and the sun in front of us, we have to reckon with the fact that it will be difficult for us to get even lighting (there are some more advanced methods, but we will describe them in the next post). In this case, try taking several shots, focusing on different places - on the building, in the sky, etc. Sometimes optimal lighting can be obtained. If not, we often turn the photo into black and white and tweak the contrast a bit (these operations are available in any photo editing program, even on a smartphone). The photo will change its character, it will still be sharply lit, but you will get an interesting effect, where you will change the sharp lighting from the defect into the advantage of the photo - thanks to it it will be interesting.

 Black and white version compared to the color version
Black and white version compared to the color version


The above 10 vacation photography tips will help you improve the quality of your photos and make them unique. Over time, you will notice that there are times when it is worth breaking these rules. We strongly encourage you to do so, but at the same time these tips are timeless and it is worth knowing them well before moving on to more advanced techniques.

Be sure to let us know in the comments what are your tricks for the perfect photo and what the next article about photography should be about - about the basics of photo processing, how to take photos with an SLR, or maybe something completely different?

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  • February 7, 2021

    This is a great post! I gotta send this to my husband who takes all my travel photos haha. I love golden hour photos! They are my fav. Thanks for sharing x


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101 Tricks To Travel Cheaper


101 Tricks To Travel Cheaper