I am a photographer and I almost always photograph people. I am a portrait photographer. I know all the settings on my DSLR camera and what settings to adjust in certain situations. But when I go on vacation, I look like a tourist with my cell phone in hand because it has a great camera - that I don’t know how to use! Things are so bad that sometimes (and by sometimes I mean about 99% of the time) I can’t figure out how to take a selfie, take a video, or how to take one photo instead of a burst of photos. It is THAT bad.
Now that you’ve seen my vacation photo skills, here are my tips for taking crappy vacation photos.
Three Easy Steps to Crappy Vacation Photos
1. Always Use a Flash
Some people are selective about when to use a flash, such as in low light situations. But you won’t get many crappy photos that way! If you really want crappy vacation photos you need to use that flash 100% of the time. You see, as a portrait photographer I use flash or natural light in nearly every photo I take because I want people to see the faces of those I’m photographing. It’s kind of important. When I am on vacation I take a lot of photos of places - landscapes.
On a recent trip to Mexico we went snorkeling in a cenote. It was dark with the exception of a few lights positioned throughout the cave. In true Anna fashion I made sure the flash was on, I mean it was dark and we use flash in low light situations. The photo was alright. Then our tour guide, Alfredo, told me to try one without the flash. I thought for sure I’d get some blurry, grainy image. But I did not! I took a photo that was much more colorful than the first!
2. Copy Everyone Else
When I’m photographing a family we typically use a location that fits with what they’re looking for as far as a background goes and I use objects at that location to create unique images. These objects can be trees, rocks, buildings, etc. Just anything that will allow me capture a unique photo. Well, when you’re on vacation you generally don’t know locations and have to rely on others to show you places. When you get to these places they are usually packed with tourists. After all, why try to figure out a unique place when tons of other tourists obviously have the perfect spots already figured out. Just copy them. Why reinvent the wheel, right? As ridiculous as this sounds, I fall for it every single vacation! Luckily we had an awesome tour guide in Mexico, Alfredo, and he told us as we were snapping photos that he was going to take us to a place to get an phenomenal photo. He did not disappoint! He took us up a hillside, not on a path, and we had an incredible view of the entire grounds of Tulum. No other tourists were on the hillside. It was just us. And it was so worth it to get off the path of everyone else and find our own location.
3. Always Leave the Camera on Auto Mode
Cameras on our phones are so smart nowadays! There is a reason they are called smartphones after all. When I see AUTO on my DSLR, I know that rarely takes good photos and I need to use manual to adjust the settings so I can capture the image as I’d like. I need to be in control - unless I have my phone camera. If I have my phone camera, which I always do on vacation, auto is the best apparently. Just look at how crystal clear Elvis is. What a sweet photo!
If you follow these three tips I will guarantee that you take some crappy vacation photos that your friends and family will ooo and ahhh over just to be nice. Maybe they’ll even like them on social media. But why put your family and friends in that awkward position of feeling like they need to praise your photos that are…well, just crappy.