Tips to Help You Take the Best Vacation Photos

Kent State University photographer Bob Christy offers some simple tips to help you take great vacation photos.

Vacations are incomplete without capturing fun memories in photographs. But, how do you ensure that you take the best photos? Kent State University photographer Bob Christy offers some simple tips to help you take great vacation photos.

  • Vacation PhotoTake lots of photos and delete the images you don't want later. Memory cards are cheap – memories are not! Remember to take your time and frame your subjects carefully. Think in three dimensions – foreground, background and subject – this will prevent photos with items sticking out of your subject’s head!
  • When taking indoor photos, move your ISO from “auto” to a higher setting, or consider using a flash. Also, if your camera has a “stars and moon” setting, try using that with your flash. It will use some of the available ambient light, which will balance natural light with the light generated by your flash unit.
  • For outdoor photos, including when you are on the beach, most small cameras have a “beach” or “snow” setting that will compensate for the brightness of sand or snow to ensure a proper exposure.
  • For group photos, make sure everyone is in the frame, and also try to include some background in your photo to help indicate where the photo was taken. Also, many cameras have a self-timer, so find a table or other flat surface that can serve as a temporary tripod to set your camera on.
  • Neutral-colored clothing works best in most situations. Usually white clothing is too bright in sunshine and black is too dark. A neutral will help with exposure and reflect a bit of light on your subject’s face.
  • Use a camera with an optical zoom lens, rather than “digital zoom.” You want something that will provide “wide” and “mild telephoto” shots. Nikon, Canon, Olympus and other makers have some great user-friendly cameras out now that have the capability of larger cameras, but are much more compact and inexpensive. Smartphones are okay, but have limited lenses and minimal quality. They may provide a large digital file, but the quality of the optics on that file is poor. You might also think about some of the waterproof cameras on the market, for an out-of-the-ordinary take on your vacation experience.
  • Save your photos on your computer and back them up to a hard drive and a CD or DVD as quickly as possible. You may also think about storing them on Flickr, Facebook, Shutterfly or other online sites. For printing, try sites like Shutterfly, which usually have very cheap printing services. 
  • While you're on your trip, try an app called Postagram - it lets you take and send postcards from your iPhone.


This photo was taken at the Mountain Home Lodge in Marten River, Ontario, and shows the reflection of a boat in the water at the dock. The photo was taken in program mode, 400 ISO, with a 5 megapixel point and shoot Nikon camera.  (Photo taken by Kent State photographer Bob Christy)Christy advises vacationers to cover all bases, from wide scenic photographs to individual shots of family and friends.

“Be sure to capture the beauty around you and anything that interests you. We try to take photos of funny things when we see them. Also, take photos of stuff that you don't see here in Ohio,” he says.

Christy also offers this advice: “Be careful with your cameras. Don't leave them lying around. Most places you go, cameras are a great target for theft.”

It is also important to find unique angles for photographs, in addition to using the best light of the day to your advantage. Morning and early evening light is best and the most dramatic – taking photos at mid-day usually makes for bad shadows and a “washed-out” look to images. Also, keep your camera with you at all times. Don’t regret missing out on a fantastic image because you left your camera back in the room – by the time you run back upstairs to grab it, the great moment is gone.

Submit your best vacation photos to, and depending on the number of entries that we receive, they might be featured in Faculty/Staff News Now.

POSTED: Monday, July 9, 2012 12:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 12:30 PM
University Communications and Marketing