“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Tips – Improve your vacation photos

Are you tired of landmarks sprouting from your family’s heads? Of the “perfect shot” that’s badly exposed? Of generic, blah pictures that capture nothing of the marvelous places you’ve been? It’s pretty easy to improve your vacation photos a great deal.

Get to know your camera.

Digital cameras are full of features that can really improve your snapshots. Schedule some practice time with your camera and the instruction manual at least two weeks before your trip. Just one afternoon of reading and shooting to familiarize yourself with its operation can make a big difference in the quality of your photos. And since there’s no film to develop, it’s free and instant.

Do some research.
While planning where you’ll go and where you’ll stay, visit official websites for your destination and browse others’ blogs that mention your destination to figure out some “must have” shots. Look at photos others have taken on sites like flickr. Decide what photos you like and why you like them.

Continue your research when you arrive by checking out postcards of the area. You won’t want to copy them exactly, but they’ll give you an idea of local landmarks and scenery associated with the locale. Then decide how to put your own spin on the subject.

Get in close.
Most photos, especially vacation photos, lack impact because they try to capture too much. Pisa’s Leaning Tower is probably better memorialized with a postcard if you just want to see the entire landmark. Even adding family members standing in front of it isn’t very memorable. But you can foreground your family’s faces with the tower as part of the background and have a real memento of your trip to Italy.

Detail work – a close-up of a monument’s stonework or ironwork, an iron-studded door, a grotesque statue tucked away in a cathedral, a shop window or sign – can provide a unique treasure to share on your return and prompt many memories of where and how you came across it.

Take a new look.
Don’t get in a rut by always shooting your subject straight on and centered from eye level. Mix it up!

Frame a child’s face as she tastes her first Parisian pastry. Instead of the typical group shot, get a close up of each member of your group standing on a treetop platform before your Costa Rican zipline adventure. Shoot from a low angle to frame your wife against the sunset sky with just the tops of the palm trees over her shoulder. And put your husband on the left or right side of the frame rather than dead center, as he stands in front of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Shoot a lot – Edit later.
With digital cameras you don’t have to lug a lot of film or pay a fortune to see your results, so take lots of photos of the things and people you want to remember. It greatly increases your chance of getting great pictures. You can also use your photo editor software to enhance or improve shots that weren’t that great.

And when you get home, take the time to cull through your shots and delete the ones that don’t make an impact. That makes it easier to find just the image you want for your album or slide show.

Ideas for this article came from Nichole Robertson on Orbitz Blog and from acreative at How to Improve Your Vacation Photos | eHow.com