Use these travel photography tips below when you get home to make sure you tell a compelling story.
1. cull and then cull some more!
This is not easy but it is so important! How many times has someone showed you their vacation photos and it is photo after photo of the exact.same.thing? As a viewer, this is not interesting. On my latest vacation to Prague, Krakow, and Vienna I took over 1,000 photos. One of the most difficult tasks has been narrowing those photos down. Quite honestly, I probably did myself a disservice by taking so many photos (but that's a topic for another blog post!) I took photos of St. Vitus Cathedral from probably every angle both inside and out. My job upon arriving home is to narrow those down to only those that tell the most compelling story. When I think of this cathedral, it is high on the hill in Prague. You see it from all over the city. So the view is very important. When you get up close, the scale is enormous! When I think about how the people who built this cathedral did this back in the 1300's, it blows my mind. Walk inside and the first thing that strikes you are the intricately detailed stained glass windows. If you really pay attention, the amount of carving and intricacy in the stonework is incredible. I want to make sure I capture these details without boring the viewer with every single stained glass window.
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sorting your favorites
I use Lightroom which makes it really easy to choose your favorite photos. I just hit "1" if I like it and "0" if I don't. That gives me a first pass. Then I hit "2" during the second round and continue to do this until I have a nice concise set of photos that tell the story and I'm proud to share. If you don't have a program to do this, one way to start narrowing down your photos is to create a new folder on your hard drive called "favorites" inside the vacation folder. Drag your favorites into that folder. Then inside the "favorites" folder, make another folder called "the best of the best (or whatever!)" Do this until you have chosen your best work. This method helps to get rid of the other photos so you aren't continually second guessing your choices. Go with your gut!
This goes for social media too! I am sure we've all seen a Facebook post where someone shares so many photos, many extremely similar, and you don't even make it to the end. You have to hit the highlights and only show your best work to keep viewers engaged.
2. write down the important details!
If you are like me, the details can get all muddied up! I love going on tours and hearing all of the history but it seems like just as soon as it goes in one ear, it goes out the other. It is very frustrating to me! Immediately upon returning home, I like to write down places and tidbits about what I learned because I know that if I wait to long I will forget. I also like to write down funny stories, especially if we are on vacation with friends. Those little details always add color whether you are making a book, building a slide show, or merely sharing on social media.
Another thing I will do is take a quick shot of a sign or plaque if it has information about something I want to learn more about. For instance, in the Jewish ghetto in Kraków, Poland, our tour guide told us about a pharmacist in Krakow that was one of the only non-Jewish residents to witness what was going on during WWII. I had never heard this story and wanted to know more so I snapped a quick picture so that I could do more research.
3. Don't forget your phone photos!
Yes, my goal is to get you out shooting with your Big Girl Cameras!! But I am also a realist. It is not always convenient or safe to be lugging around a big camera. That's when I like to supplement with my iPhone. I've gotten some great detail shots with my iPhone. Whether it be the sidewalks, the meal I am eating or a quick toast, I don't want to lose part of the story by excluding those photos. One way to make this really easy is to make sure that your DSLR's time and date is set correctly! That way you can combine photos when you return. When you sort by date created, both sets of photos will fall easily into line when you are choosing photos to share or print in a book.
4. make a book!
Whenever I get home from a BIG vacation, I like to make a BIG Shutterfly book. I make it, and then I wait for a really good coupon (re: Black Friday!) I also like to make smaller 8 x 8 books after our annual Hilton Head Island beach trip. The most important thing is to DO SOMETHING with your photos. How many times have you taken picture after picture and it ends up in a digital wasteland on your hard drive or phone? I saw a study, and people generally think of phone photos as "throwaway photos," but consider photos taken and printed as family keepsakes. Also, consider how it feels to sit down with someone and flip through a printed book versus flipping through tiny photos on your phone. There is something more special and tactile about a book.
In my second blog post of this series, I talk about storytelling with your pictures. This is where you can really use that wide-mid-close strategy. I like to use my BEST photos as a two page spread for impact. This is where carefully editing and choosing only your best photos can have real impact.
One mistake I see many people make is trying to cram every photo into their book. This goes back to choosing only your best photos. While it may feel like you are going to miss a detail, putting every single photo on a page actually takes away from the story and doesn't allow your photo to shine.
If you'd like to see two books that I made, you can click here for my trip to the Rio Olympics, and here for my London book. In both books, I wrote down a lot of details when I got home and I am so glad I did because I would not remember a lot of it today. Plus, it is easier for the viewer to follow along. I also combined photos from my phone because it wasn't always possible or a smart idea to have my big girl camera out. In the case of Rio, we got lots of texts from friends and family that said they could see us on the Today show. They sent us pictures of their TV's and I kept those to add color and a different dimension to the story.
Do this now!
What other travel photography tips do you have?
I'd love to hear more about how you tell a story with your photos while you are on vacation. Do you have kids? How do you incorporate them? What do you do with your photos when you return home? Tell me more about it in the comments below.
Andrea Ferenchik, Founder
Andrea started The Big Girl School because she loves sharing her passion of photography with other women. As a former trainer at Microsoft and current professional photographer, she has the unique ability to break down technical jargon of the camera into easy to understand language. She loves nothing more than to see her students grow and thrive in their photographic journey.
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