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Take your best family vacation photos yet!

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Mar 11th, 2014

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When you’re on vacation with your family, it’s easy to forget about pulling out the camera and snapping a few photographs along the way. But travel photos are one-of-a-kind keepsakes of quality time spent with your loved ones, and they’ll tug at the heartstrings to boot!

After years of taking mediocre travel shots, we wanted better – for ourselves and for you! So we scoured photography sites and blogs to learn a few simple tips and tricks from both professional photographers and talented amateur shooters to help us up our game.

Here’s what we learned:

Take more action and/or candid shots. There’s nothing wrong with posed photos, but try capturing your family members in a more natural setting. Maybe they’re building a sand castle on the beach, playing a game of catch, or examining a colourful flower. Those candids are the ones you’re likely to love most.

Know where the light is coming from. We’re all guilty of taking photos where our subjects are facing into the sun and squinting at the camera. Just as bad, the photos where the sun is behind our subject and faces are cast in shadow. Try to ensure that enough light is coming from the side to illuminate your kids’ faces without forcing them to squint.

Move away from the centre. Rethink the notion of putting the focus of your photo in the centre of it. By shifting the subject to one side of the photograph, you create a more engaging portrait – especially if the background is a beautiful nature scene or a striking piece of architecture.

A sense of place. Where in the world are you? Cathedral Grove in B.C.? A sandy beach in Hawaii? A cobblestone street in Paris? Give your photos a sense of place by capturing unique or unusual elements you’re likely to only find there. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower is an obvious one, but so is a patisserie piled to the rafters with baguettes. Think about items, people, buildings, and scenes that speak to the place you’re in.

Put down the phone, pick up the camera. Yes, cameras on phones have improved in quality. But a proper camera – whether a point-and-shoot or a full-on D-SLR – offers so much more flexibility, and, let’s face it, better photographs. Many cameras even offer the ability to share to social media now.

Consider the ‘golden hour.’ No shortage of photographers will tell you that the best times to take photographs are daybreak (the first hour of sun) and dusk (the last hour of sun). It’s often referred to as the ‘golden hour,’ when places and people are beautifully lit. If you’re not an early riser, take advantage of that end-of-day glow as often as possible.

The beauty of natural light. Natural light is where it’s at – especially if you’re taking photos of food. Flash can distort the look of your subject, and often with food it makes something delicious look positively inedible! One tip we’ve read about to make the most of low light spaces, is to hold up a white napkin or side plate before taking the shot to help bounce light onto your subject and brighten up the photo.

Get at least one good shot of the whole family. Usually one parent takes on the role of ‘family photographer.’ Unfortunately, that means they often don’t get to be in the shots! Make sure you either ask someone to take a photo of the whole family, or make use of the timer setting so that there’s at least one good snap of everyone.

With files from Suzanne Ellis, Cityline.ca

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