How to take great vacation and travel photography with any camera or smartphone / by Zack Smith Photography

 This family just crushed Chicago and I've got the photos to prove it!

This family just crushed Chicago and I've got the photos to prove it!

Want to know how I take great vacation and travel photos? 

Well my first piece of advice is: don't wait until the sun sets over Lake Michigan during your first time to Chicago to get that great family shot! Practice at home, shoot every day, and SHOOT FOR THE WALL! While you are practicing, if you are in the New Orleans area - take my photography workshops and photography classes! You can always visit my web page and see what I am offering by clicking HERE and signing up for my mailing list by clicking at the bottom of this below. But first let's get to the lesson...

 Great travel photography begins with having the right gear to catch those magic moments, but more importantly it's about knowing the WHY and shooting with intention!

Great travel photography begins with having the right gear to catch those magic moments, but more importantly it's about knowing the WHY and shooting with intention!

Aside from packing enough clothes, shoes, and diapers (yes diapers) on your holiday travel trip, photography is always a big part of any vacation or trip. What camera should you pack? How many lenses should you bring? What will TSA let you travel with? Travel logistics non-withstanding, how can you make those travel photos stand out? Well, you don’t have to be the next Lee Friedlander to capture compelling and beautiful travel or vacation photos. In fact, you don’t even need an expensive DSLR, let alone lug around a heavy tripod, lenses, filters and flashes.

All you need is a decent camera or even your Smartphone or iPhone. This lesson is made to help you take great vacation and travel photographs using the camera you have. 

Vacation photography is all about capturing the right moments and telling a story in every shot. If you don’t have an eye for good photos, more expensive tools aren’t the solution. For me I really enjoy keeping it simple. For this recent trip to Chicago with my family I only brought my Canon 50mm 1.2 lens with me. One set of eyes ( i mean, focal length...) allowed me to walk closer to my subject and find the right angle. When I bring a zoom lens with me, I am tempted to use the zoom instead of getting closer to the action. 

 I love the 1.2 aperture on the Canon 50mm! I shot this flower bouquet while waiting for our first ever deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's in Chicago. Now I am wondering, can you FedEx pizza? Asking for a friend.

I love the 1.2 aperture on the Canon 50mm! I shot this flower bouquet while waiting for our first ever deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's in Chicago. Now I am wondering, can you FedEx pizza? Asking for a friend.

Follow these Tips for Better travel and Vacation Photos!

My mantra has always been "Shoot For The Wall" which in a nutshell means - shoot with intention and purpose so that your images are good enough to print on the wall. No matter if you don't have a wall to print on, the most important thing to remember here is to shoot with intention. and know the WHY of every photograph. You can really shoot with intention with any camera. Here are some simple steps i've put together for you!

Shoot in good light – If you are taking landscape photos, the best time to shoot would be during the sunrise and sunset and keep your back to the sun. I would also suggest that you plan your shooting on a cloudy day. The idea is to avoid the direct sun shining into the camera or phone so get up a little early or stay out a little longer! Soft natural light makes any subject look more interesting so the magic hour or diffused light is best! 

 You'll see my daughter Vega and wife in alot of these photos of Chicago. Notice the even, low contrast light and converging lines at the Navy Pier. Such a beautiful place!

You'll see my daughter Vega and wife in alot of these photos of Chicago. Notice the even, low contrast light and converging lines at the Navy Pier. Such a beautiful place!

 Here I kept the sun at my back and waited for the moment when he looked through his arms!

Here I kept the sun at my back and waited for the moment when he looked through his arms!

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Capture feelings – Good photgraphs capture a moment, but great photographs portray an emotion. Instead of telling your family to stop and pose for the camera, allow them to move freely so you can capture a real moment. I know this is easier said than done while chasing kids, changing your settings and trying to have a good time. The more you do this, the better you will get at it! I promise! Creating great photography habits you can always have with you.

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Choose the right background – Most people don’t understand this, but backgrounds can make or break photograph. Once you have your subject identified, it's time to concentrate on making sure the background is not distracting. Try and take your time and don’t just place your subject anywhere. The background should complement the subject versus overshadowing it. Your eyes should always land on your subject and not get pulled to the background. Same with foregrounds! If you allow a small foreground element into your frame – like a tree or a flower – it helps add more depth to the scene but make sure it doesn't take away!

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Create Space and Get Abstract! – If you are following my advice you are going to take some great vacation and travel photographs. What happens when you've mastered the art of travel photography and you have dozens of magic moments of your family, and the food, and the mountains and you just...want...something....different! Think outside of the box and look for patterns at the brunch restaurant, focus close on rain drops on the hotel window (every vacation has a rain day right? Order in!), and create some space!

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Ok, so my #1 advice for how to take great vacation and travel photography?

Practice Practice Practice! Don't wait until the sun sets over Lake Michigan during your first time to Chicago to get that great family shot! Practice at home, shoot every day, and SHOOT FOR THE WALL! If you are in the New Orleans area - take my photography workshops! You can always visit my web page and see what I am offering by clicking HERE and signing up for my mailing list by clicking below!! Please share this post!!!