V is for Variations on Vacation Photos


For a slight variation on my A to Z Challenge travel theme, V is for Variations on Vacation Photos. I absolutely love to take vacation photos, and I usually come back with thousands of photos. Once I get back I like to share them with friends, family, and complete strangers. However, no matter how memorable the trip was for me, showing tons of photos of places that other people haven’t been isn’t the best way to share the memories with other people. Have you ever sat through a photo album of photos that meant a lot to your friend, but looked like just a bunch of old buildings to you?

The point is, the majority of vacation photos are for the person who went on the vacation and wants to relive the vacation in the future (or shove the photos into a box in the back of a closet). But you still want to share your photos with other people, right? So how can you prevent them from falling asleep halfway through your slideshow from Rome, or clicking to another page on your blog?

The key is to get creative. Try these 4 variations on typical vacation photos, and make a unique album or webpage that catches the eye and leaves everyone wanting to know more.

1. Play with Poses

Not only does this make for creative photos, it’s usually fun to do. At first, it might seem kind of weird, and you might get some sideways glances while striking a silly pose, but the result will be more interesting than if you stand stiffly in front of a landmark with an awkward smile. Plus you can try a few variations until you find something you won’t mind showing other people (I’ve deleted a few photos with a pose that sounded like a good idea, but didn’t work in execution).

Osaka Castle

I’m mimicking the castle shape…
photo by kei

2. Take Candid Shots

I’m someone who likes to frame the perfect shot, and have no one in the photo, and make it look like the landmark is in a vacuum. I’ll admit it. But, travel does not occur in a vacuum. And some of the best shots I’ve seen or I’ve taken myself have been completely candid shots. That crowd in front of your favorite landmark? Take a photo that incorporates them! They are a part of that landmark, even if only for a moment, and they can even add depth to your photo. So, loosen up, and let that child who is chasing insects run across your shot, or include the huge family that is milling about trying to get a group shot in front of the famous building, or snap the locals going about their day on a main street.

Enoshima, Japan

A child playing in the water at Enoshima adds some depth to the ocean scene – photo by kei

Note: I’ve seen discussions on forums about including people you don’t know in your candid shots that will be publicized. I always try to not zoom in on faces, especially of children, because I just don’t want to be invasive of a family’s privacy when taking candid shots. You can handle this as you see fit in your own shots.

Taking candid shots of friends and family doing daily activities while you travel is also a good way to capture memories from your trip. A photo of my husband jumping up into my shot in front of Tokyo Station reminds me how he waited patiently for me all day to take my perfectly framed photos, and then was goofing around during my last few shots. Candid photos on my camera that a younger cousin took at a family reunion (from about 2 feet shorter than everyone else) gave a new perspective on family photos. Try it out for yourself!

3. Take Photos of Signs

I thought I was the only person who took photos of signs, until I found a site suggesting improvements to vacation photos that included taking photos of signs. Why take photos of signs? No one wants an album of signs. But, in the age of digital cameras, when you can take thousands of photos and it costs you almost nothing, taking photos of signs can have numerous benefits. If you are visiting several cities during a trip, take a photo of the city name before photographing the city sights. Then, when you scroll through your photos later, you will have a record of which photos came from which city.

Fuji Sengen Shrine Sign

The sign at Fuji Sengen Shrine makes for an interesting photo! – photo by kei

Another benefit is historical signs. If you don’t have time to read all the historical signs, or if you can’t remember the information about each historical site you visit, take a photo of each sign! Then, when you make an album or write a blog piece about the site, you can use the signs to include important information.

Historic Sign

Historic Sign in Lahaina, Maui – photo by kei

If you see a sign in a foreign language that you can’t read, or an interesting sign in English that has been translated from a foreign language, you can take a photo to translate it or laugh about it later. In fact, lots of Japanglish or Chinglish signs have been posted to the internet because of the difficulty (and hilarity) of translating Japanese or Chinese directly to English.

Osaka Train Sign

An interesting sign in the Osaka train station – photo by kei

4. Try a Different Perspective

I love taking photos of landmarks that look like the postcards. Those are the famous shots, and I want to recreate them. But, I also like to try different perspectives. Tricks I like to use to get a perspective are: going up higher to take a photo, looking up from below a landmark, and framing the landmark with something different (other buildings, etc.). The key is to look at the landmark from a different point of view!

Tokyo Skyline from Tokyo Tower

Framing the Tokyo skyline with the struts of the Tokyo Tower – photo by kei

Do you have any vacation photo tips to share? What is your favorite vacation photo style? Let me know in the comments!

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