Tips From Pros For Frame-Worthy Vacation Photos

These bloggers and photographers offer expert advice for amateur photographers

Instill major trip envy in friends and family by taking vacation photos like a pro.


We all have those friends who take amazing vacation pictures and leave us with a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out). What do they know that we don’t? To find out, we asked three professional photographers. Here’s their secret: you don’t have to buy the newest, most complex camera model to get dreamy vacation pictures. By following their expert tips listed below, you, too, can take FOMO-inducing shots!

Embrace what you’ve got

The Guardian writer Simon Jenkins believes “we’re over the digital revolution,” and says, “This is the age of experience.” In a moment when records, print books, and knitting are making a comeback, so are traditional cameras. Many photographers—both hobby and professional—are ditching their digital cameras and re-embracing more traditional methods, like film and instant photography.

The good news is, as long as you’re open to embracing new tips, techniques and a bit of creativity, anything goes. Whether you take all your vacation pictures on a smart phone camera or a DSLR or even go the extra mile and develop your own film, you can still take your photo skills to the next level.

Matthew Karsten, more commonly known as the Expert Vagabond, is a full-time adventure blogger and photographer who spends six months of the year traveling. His advice for taking great photos? Wake up early and stay out late. Because the best natural light is achieved at sunrise or sunset—the bright light from a sunny sky makes for harsh, washed-out images—Karsten says you can achieve the most colorful and honest images when the lighting is just right. Spend the “Golden Hour,” that sweet spot right after sunrise and/or right before sunset, in the great outdoors. Little to no editing required.

Chase Guttman has more than 50,000 Instagram followers and is a three-time recipient of—and the first American to receive—the Young Travel Photographer of the Year award. At only 20 years old, he has already visited and photographed all 50 U.S. states.

Guttman advises traveling photographers to be social. “Communicating with strangers can lead to a whole host of photographic opportunities,” he told Conde Nast Traveler. Smile, wave and strike up a conversation. You never know if there are beloved hidden spots or landmarks that locals can point you to in their hometown.

Houston, Texas–based photographer Alex Barber has had cameras around for as long as he can remember, but it wasn’t until a few years back that he became a professional photographer. His clients hire him to shoot portraits, events and even architecture.

Barber uses professional cameras when possible but believes that “the best camera for vacation pics is the one you have with you.” Don’t let a photo opportunity pass you by because you feel your phone camera or Polaroid doesn’t take great pictures. Movement, people, animals and nature, in general, are best photographed in the moment. Barber recommends editing phone images with Snapseed or VSCO, both are free downloads available through iPhone’s App Store and Google Play.

Ready to take some great photos? Grab your camera and start planning your trip with us.


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