WanderingJustin.com

Five Ways to Make Your Vacation Photos Interesting

vacation photos

This photo is complete and total BS. It’s squashed from a wider shot to increase the relief. So don’t go to the Wind Cathedral in Namibia expecting to snap your own vacation photo like this.

I’m going to show you a valuable skill today: How to make your vacation photos interesting.

Now, many people these days use Facebook to show their vacation photos. This post assumes that’s your vehicle of choice. Still, even if you do something else, a lot of what I say here will apply.

Alright, let’s get this started.

Be discerning.

I don’t care if you took 7,351 photos. I don’t want to see all 7,351. If you want to make your vacation photos interesting, upload the absolute best of the best. Eliminate photos that are virtually identical. Keep group shots where you and a few people are saying cheese to a minimum. And honestly, far better photographers than you have photographed the world’s greatest landmarks – so seriously consider whether anyone needs to see yet another shoot-by-the-numbers photo of the Sydney Opera House. Pitch the blurry and boring. There. Now you’re down to about 84 photos (if you’re anything like me).

vacation photos

Just a shot of a cool moment. I could probably use a little bit of light photo editing to bring the colors out a bit … this looks a bit blue.

Say something about your vacation photos.

Like I mentioned earlier, far better photographers than you have shot the same place. Hell, some of your friends may have already been there. So say something about your experience, and what your photos will offer. DO NOT just name the place. You can be smirky and give your album an Upworthy-like clickbait name like “You Won’t Believe What Happens When I Go to a Thai Ladyboy Show!” Or you can play it straight – “Hiking in Jotunheimen, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.” Just offer a glimpse into what people will see in your vacation photos – and stay away from linear recitations of what you did that day. Nobody wants to read an itinerary.

Vik

Caption your vacation photos, already!

I have this one photo I took in Vík í Mýrdal. I love the little white church, the towering green mountains and the sunlight filtering through hazy air. But the most remarkable thing about it? I snapped it 10:45 p.m. That boggles the minds of people from lower latitudes. And you’d never know this without a caption – the right caption adds context, humor, information … something.
Look, we all get lazy and skip the caption. I get it. But captions can make all the difference.

Look for Moments, Not Places

The bucket list mentality equals photos that suck. Tourists file like little ducklings to their destinations, snap their photos and herd themselves back onto the bus when the guide tells them to. They get the exact same photos because they’re thinking about places, not moments.
Let me give you an example … I was just walking around in Hanoi, and I took a little bridge out to a Buddhist temple in the middle of a small lake. People were praying and bowing before an alter. Incense curled into the air and interacting with the light just perfectly, and I got this cool shot of people praying. This isn’t a landmark like Ho Chi Minh’s tomb or the Cu Chi Tunnels. But there was a perfection in that moment that made a far more interesting photo than you’ll usually get snapping a major landmark. There are ways to be creative with shooting landmarks, though. I’m not much good at this, so maybe you can pitch in with some ideas.

vacation photos

It took just a little bit of editing to compensate for not getting my camera settings perfect. But I resisted any urge to exaggerate the colors.

Stop editing the hell out of your vacation photos

Excessive photo editing ruins travel. The Internet overfloweth with jokers who use High Dynamic Range and Photoshop to turn photos into cartoonish versions of reality. And you get excited, book the trip, arrive and then find out it’s not truly a rip in space and time where every color is vivid and every sunset is the color of orange blossom honey.

Edit photos to make them closer to what you saw with your eye, not to exaggerate. Here’s the truth – my photos sometimes need help because I am a hack photographer. Once in awhile, I get lucky with an image like the one I snapped of Elijah on his horse. That came straight out of my camera with not a single adjustment to the colors. This is pretty damn rare for me, especially since I often shoot in challenging light. The thing is, reality is just fine without being turned into a caricature. Nature doesn’t need you to make it awesome. And all that tinkering is a lie. So stop it. Tell the truth with your photos.

Essentially, everything I’m saying is … tell a story. With your photo choices. With your captions. With your album names. What would you add about making vacation photos more interesting?

 

Mentioned in this post
  1. Sydney Opera House
    Attraction in Quay Australia

    2 Macquarie St.
    Quay Australia
    (02) 9250 7777
    http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/
  2. Vík í Mýrdal
    City in Iceland

    Vík í Mýrdal Iceland
  3. Hanoi
    City in Vietnam

    Hanoi Vietnam

2 thoughts on “Five Ways to Make Your Vacation Photos Interesting

  1. Trevor Stasik

    I especially like your last suggestion. I can word it a little differently:
    Turn off the Instagram Firehose already!! We really don’t want anymore Brannan or X-Pro II filters!

Leave a Reply