Some people believe that if you don’t photograph it, it didn’t happen! Summer is a time for escaping the heat, exploring new places and having fun with friends and family. Whether you own a traditional camera or use a smartphone here are five tips for taking your best summer vacation photos. When you are back at home – looking back at your photos is one way to relive that beautiful beach, delicious ice cream cone, and happy times out of town.

Tell the story of the location that you are visiting in your photos

If you think like a storyteller when visiting a new place you may start to take more unusual photos and capture the location in an interesting way. Snap photos of signage, an interesting section of the main street, beautiful architecture or simple pathways. Do not miss out on photographing landmarks or special activities.  A good story includes small and large details with a lot of description. Your photos can do the same.

Take a lot of candids

The beauty of a candid is in the surprise. You never know what you might get and it could be the best smile, laugh, or jump! Candids can often capture the emotion of the people you are with and those can be the most special photos to look back on and remember exactly what was taking place before and after the candid was snapped.

Ask a stranger or use a self-timer so that everyone in the group is included in the photo

Opposite from the candid is the posed photo. The important thing with this tip is to make sure your whole group is together in at least one photo. The self-time feature on your camera (both tradition and smartphone) can become a great tool for this. Also, do not be afraid to ask a stranger for help. Everyone understands this request and most people do not mind helping. More importantly getting photos of the whole group can be the capstone of all the photos you take, because often the people we are with are the most important part of the trip.

Take your camera everywhere you go and snap constantly

The more photos you take, the better the chance there is for you to take great photos. While you do not want to only be taking photos, often people forget to take photos until the end of the trip. One good idea is to try to take a few photos during the morning, afternoon and night each day to help ensure you catch your vacation on film.

Remember sunrise and sunset for best lighting

If you are outside when taking photos it is important to pay attention to where the sun is. The sun can cast big shadows over the subject or it can be too bright and the details can be lost. Often when the sun is rising or setting is the best light because it is not so harsh. Also, overcast days can provide great light for photos outside.


Darrylee Cohen is the president and founder of Haute Photography & Videography, an award-winning professional photography company based in Phoenix. Cohen was recently named one of the top five photographers in the world by PhotoShelter.