How to Make Your Vacation and Travel Photos More Unique and Creative

Domestic and international travel restrictions have loosened and more photographers are able to travel for leisure. But, besides practicing landscape or wildlife photography, are there ways of creating less predictable holiday photographs that still showcase your vision and creativity?

For the most part, if a photographer plans to capture photos while on vacation, they tend to set time aside to do so, and will focus on certain genres such as wildlife, landscape, or architecture. After the shoot has concluded, the photography equipment generally goes back into the suitcase and is rarely taken out for everyday memories with family and friends, especially if the photographer has a capable smartphone to rely on for impromptu photographs.

However, there are ways in which photographers — regardless of their expertise and genre specialty — can add a touch of creativity to liven up their vacation memories. Not only will this create a unique vacation gallery for friends and family, but it will also fire up creativity and strengthen the passion for photography.

Use Lightweight equipment

Equipment that is comfortable, lightweight, and easy to carry is an important factor for motivation to take the camera out at all. Dealing with a cumbersome camera or numerous lens choices will not inspire anyone to carry their equipment whilst exploring an area, visiting cafes and restaurants, or going on tours and experiences.

It can be tempting to opt for a larger professional-grade camera and lens combination but that often means discomfort from having to carry it around all day. It can also mean that the photographer will outweigh whether it is worth taking their camera on a day out at all — based on the activity planned and the risk involved. This is even more so prevalent if it’s a camera relied on for the photographer’s professional work.

Instead, a compact camera that can sit in a small bag or be comfortably carried in a neck or shoulder strap will do the trick. A bonus point: smaller cameras will not attract as much attention and is easier to look after while on the go.

Embrace Unique Compositions

Interestingly composed imagery will give any vacation gallery a more dynamic feel. Shooting directly at an eye-level is something that most vacationers do, however, as photographers have an abundance of creativity and vision under their belt, it’s worth utilizing that during vacation photos, too.

Simply looking up is one of the easiest ways to spice up a gallery with something different. For example, photographers can shoot parts of a building, such as their hotel or a cafe they are visiting, in a combination with nearby trees, a parasol, or any other detail that brings back the memories of enjoying that day.

Similarly, shots that cover vast expanses of land, water, or sky can add to the feeling of peace and tranquility that was enjoyed during the holiday. In images like these, the composition is more concerned about which parts of the view to exclude to create a pleasing shot rather than which parts to include.

Photos like these also make for great wall prints that can remind photographers about their vacation for years to come, combining personal memories and photographic skills.

Don’t Neglect the Small Details

It’s not often that small details make the cut when photographing trips and vacations. However, it’s those details that make memories special and personal, more so than more generic images of tourist attractions, monuments, and other points of interest.

Small details that catch a photographer’s eye will have a sentimental meaning that might not translate the same emotions to others, but they still contribute to a more diverse gallery of photos from the experience. It could be details such as a cup of coffee that reminds of engaging conversations with friends that day, an interesting feature on a wall that gets noticed every day when leaving the hotel, or perhaps the pebbles under feet on a particularly sunny and relaxing day.

Include Family and Friends

It’s not all about the environment, though. Creating memories with friends and family is just as important and as such, they deserve to be photographed, too. It doesn’t need to be a traditional shot of someone posing in front of a tourist spot because most travelers will have plenty of those, either shot by others or as a selfie.

Not posing your friends and family will result in natural images that show them enjoying themselves instead of asking for a particular pose or a fake smile. In a similar way in which family documentary photographers work, friends and family can be captured while they are engaging in activities or blending in as part of the environment.

Don’t Forget to Include Yourself

Being the only photographer in a family or a friend’s circle can come at a cost — a lot of times, photographers tend to stay behind the camera and don’t have many images of themselves, if any at all. Don’t be reluctant to give your camera to the people you’re on vacation with and let them shoot a few images of you. It takes a brief moment to set up the camera so all they have to do is compose and press the shutter.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to rely on others, especially if you travel solo and don’t want to give your camera to a stranger. You can still include shots of yourself, captured as shadows or in the shop, cafe, and gallery reflections.

If you feel comfortable enough in your surroundings, set up your camera on a timer. For self-portraits, it can be helpful to bring a compact tripod that is easy to carry or you can use anything that you have at your disposal at the time of the shooting. It could be a windowsill, a table, or the camera can be placed on the ground and propped up with a phone or a wallet to face upwards.

Trying some of these tips on your next vacation will help create an interesting gallery that you and others enjoy looking at for years to come.