Everyone wants to take those quintessential, stunning vacation photos when they’re in a new locale. Whether it’s to show off on Instagram or to frame as a reminder, it’s important to have great photographic keepsakes. But, more often than not, only a handful of pictures turn out to be share-worthy.

Take Photos like a Pro

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t fret. You don’t need a degree in photography or a ton of gear to score jealous-inducing photos. Just follow these great tips for your next trip and come home to the envy of all of your followers.


1.) Consider your location

Photo Location

When trying to take a photo of a landmark or beautiful scene, you’ll want to add some depth and scale to the picture. For a great landscape scene, find something interesting in the foreground to give it some depth. Or frame your subject between two other objects to get a sense of scale. The best vacation photos tend to include these 3 elements: People, Places and Things. Photos always look best with a human, preferably you or a family member(s). You’ll also want to capture your location du jour or a beautiful focal point. The “Things” aspect is a little harder, but well worth the effort. You’ll add lots of character to your photo by capturing a well-placed object. For example, if you’re taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower from a cozy cafe, include your coffee mug in the shot to add some creative flair.


2.) Prep before you shoot

Photo Prep

You don’t want to just shoot wildly when you get to your destination. Take a moment to assess your scene. Ask yourself: “What is in the scene and what is your subject?” Getting as close to your subject as possible will make for a more interesting photo. If your subject fills the frame, your photo will have more detail and depth and will lack the boring details that make for dull photos. Take the colors and natural lines of the scene into consideration and try different angles to see which combinations look best. Don’t forget to try moving around or zooming in and out to settle on the most pleasing overall shot.


3.) Lighting is essential

Photo Lighting

Great photos all have one thing in common: perfect lighting! When shooting indoors, you’ll want your subject illuminated, but not directly in front of any direct light. If you’re taking pictures outdoors, be aware of where you are in relation to the sun. Don’t stare directly into it unless you want everything to be in a shadow. When possible, turn so that the light is shining on your subject. Sunrise and sunset are typically the most ideal time of day to take photos; not only is the lighting best then, but the natural beauty of sunrises and sunsets can only enhance your photos!


4.) Focus on focus

Photo Focus

Focus is a very important (but oddly overlooked) factor to photography. Tap the subject on most smartphones and the camera will automatically focus on it. But, this easy way to photograph doesn’t create the most compelling images. In some instances, you could create a better photo by focusing on something unexpected in the scene. For example, highlighting a stone in the middle of Yosemite Park in Autumn. This allows the picturesque background to create a blurry and beautiful swath of color. Try playing around with different focus points to determine the best subject for the picture.


5.) Add some creativity

Photo Creativity

The best photos are born from a bit of creativity married with the right subject. Lie on the ground and shoot upwards to get a different perspective, or angle the camera in an odd way to create a different image. Focus on a reflection instead of the subject or take a picture looking through something unique.


6.) The rule of thirds

Photography Rule of Three

This rule is actually based in psychology and is the most well-known photography trick. Photographers swear by this trick to attain the most compelling photo. Mentally divide your screen into three equal segments. Now place your subject off-center in the left or right grid, preferably closer to the intersection of the middle grid. Doing so will naturally draw the viewer’s eyes to the subject in the photograph. It’s like magic!