Mention the word vacation and one of the first things most people thing of when putting together their packing list is their camera! Certainly photos to remember your trip by are an important element of any vacation. Just as important as the camera however, is knowing how to take good photos! That said, we hope these travel photography tips might be helpful to you: Get To Know Your Camera: Before you leave home, know the features of your camera and how the camera works. When the leopard pounces out from behind the tree during your safari, or Poohbear comes out to say hello in the Magic Kingdom, you do not want to be fumbling with unfamiliar controls. Practice taking some photos beforehand so you are comfortable with the camera. Taking pictures of family and friends at home also makes them more relaxed about facing the lens when on vacation. Ask for a Picture: One of the key things that makes a professional stand out is the number of people in their shots. While most are happy to take landscape shots few will take photos of the locals (unless slyly-taken). Be bold and just ask. The worst that they can say is “no.” Stand Close: Most amateurs seem to think a photo has to include everything. As such, most back away to get every inch of the landmark and their friends. Instead, do as the pros do and move forward instead. The face is the only important element and part of a famous landmark is often enough to recognize it. Go for the detail shot! Post a Photo: If someone asks you to send them a copy of the photo…do it! Have them write down their name and address and the specific photograph they want then photograph this information. This way you won’t lose the paper. If you plan to post a photo on a social media outlet always request anyone’s permission first (who might be in the photo) before adding the photo to your online collection. Takes Notes: Each night, after a hard day’s slog with your camera, take the time to jot down a few notes in a journal about the day’s events. This will help when you come to add keywords and descriptions of the places, people and activities featured in your photos. Think Outside the Box: In choice tourist destinations it can be tricky ‘thinking outside of the box’ when there are so many cliché or timeless views of well known landmarks and sight-seeing subjects. Perhaps limit yourself to ten ‘safe’ shots then be bold with your other shots to capture scenes that others miss yet sum up the destination. Visit During Special Events: Find out when the country/city/town celebrates spiritual or religious events, traditions, national holidays and carnival style celebrations. Visiting during these times can offer a great magnitude of photographic opportunity, especially for portraiture and documentary style shots. Put the Camera down: Photography is addictive and there’s a danger of coming back from a vacation having only experienced it thru a viewfinder. Set aside a day or two to leave the camera locked up in your hotel. Soak in the atmosphere of the destination without your camera. Even if you miss the “shot of the vacation” on the day you don’t have the camera you might be able to take it, or a better one, on another day. Be Safe and Smart: Most places in the world are relatively safe and the people friendly, but there are a few pockets of the globe where this may not be the case, so always take care to be conscious of your safety and take some sensible precautionary steps to reap better confidence in unfamiliar surroundings. The first thing you should do after booking your trip is to take out adequate travel insurance for you and your gear and check the policy carefully to see what is covered – some adrenaline-orientated activities such as white water rafting or bungee jumping may be excluded for example. Invest in solid luggage locks and anti-theft bags are great for travelling photographers. Pocket a small amount of local currency in an easy-to-reach place and the rest of your cash elsewhere and keep a list of emergency numbers and phrases on your person. Consider What Next: When your vacation is over, consider what next to do with your images. If you’ve bagged some wonderful frames you could enter a choice selection in to a travel photography competition. Alternatively you could upload the files to an image stock site and harvest an extra revenue stream. You could use these images as a basis for a portfolio to approach magazines, travel guides or tourism websites for work.