Photographing a Vacation

In the past, I've come back from vacations with less than stellar photographs...

Sure they "sorta" remind me of my visit, but more oft than not, I got a teeeeny tiny speck in one corner of my picture with LOTS of scenery OR, I got close ups of things that I couldn't remember where I was or for what reason I took the picture...

We recently took a trip with our girls to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and DC.  We had a couple of purposes in going...First off, we love history and the girls LOVE to dress up in this time period. Secondly, we wanted some good, quality family time...Because of this, I kept my camera close in certain situations and other times, I left it at the hotel so to be sure to just BE in the moment and not try to "document" every tidbit of our time away.

So what are some things to remember when you are on order to get pictures that "tell the story" of your visit without having to sit through the "slideshow" and "explain" everything?  Here are some tips that I discovered on the way...

1) Know your purpose:  As I mentioned before, I wanted to come away from this vacation having had fun interacting with "history" but wanted to make sure we focused on "together" time..therefore, when I look back on this time, I want to remember those types of, when I start looking for "pictures" to capture, I keep this in mind. 

Of course, you always want to get a cheesy, all together picture in front of the main "site" (in our case, the Governor's palace) And really, you're not going to be giving a photography lesson to some innocent and gracious by-stander who offers to take the, in some cases, the post-processing can add a little "oooomph" to your picture if it's not as great as you'd hoped...

However, for the rest of my "purposed-pictures", I kept in mind the theme of "historical learning" and "togetherness"...

When I set up my pictures (yes, there are some that I "pose) I think about the composition as this one, I could have gotten their entire dresses and the whole palace green...but my focus was of our time together and so I opted for getting close up on their faces, the smiles that never seemed to wavor...with that palace blurred slightly in the background...

2) Tell the Story: This means that each picture (that I end up keeping out of the over 600+ that I took last week:)  should be able to stand alone...I want to be able to not only look at the image and remember, but it should "say" something on it's own...I keep in mind what's in focus and what is blurred, I sometimes shift my subject to one side to show the "action" taking place...(***if you come to a SnapShop, you'll understand even more what I'm talking about here)

sometimes it even means focusing in on the little details of the day:

When we headed off to Jamestown for a couple hours, the girls changed out of their colonial gowns and got to climb around in the Indian boats and such...I wanted to capture their curiosity in different the same time, watching them take it all in...

3) Crop & Editing: As I took my 600+ pictures, I tried hard to make every shot out of the camera something awesome...but in reality, it just doesn't happen that way.. Yes, I get a few that are really  nice, but more often than not, the sun came shooting through the clouds just as I had my settings ready for clouds OR I tripped over my dress and didn't get the angle that I was hoping for...not to worry, that's what photoshop is for...and if it can't help in certain situations, that's okay too:)  The main thing is to enjoy, experiment, but most of all engage with your family...even if it means putting the camera down for awhile...that's why God gave us a brain and the capability to store memories:)

Both of these were taken in really low light...I will probably go back and fiddle with them even more by adding textures and such...but the point is, I had fun, my girls had fun and I have a few pictures that they can enjoy and will help them remember our time together as a family.

So to recap...when you head into vacation season this summer...remember to think about some things before you start snapping away:
1) know WHY you are there and think about how you want to portray those purposes in your images
2) tell the story through your composition...whether it mean tilting your camera a bit or focusing in on details...try to see "life" happening through your lens.
3) you can always try to "fix" in photoshop with cropping and processing the images, so don't fret too much if you aren't seeing your idea of "perfection" on the LCD screen.
4) put your camera away for awhile and just BE with your family...THAT is what is most important!

Happy Vacationing!!!

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