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Summertime is filled with some of the best moments in life. School is out, the weather is nice, and it’s time for your summer vacation! This summer is bound to have once-in-a-lifetime moments, so don’t miss them. Follow these 7 simple tips to taking better summer travel photos. You know, the kind of photos that make your friends jealous when they show up in their Instagram feed.

Also: 11 photos that will make you wish you were Canadian

A car drives along an empty road in front of Utah's Monument Valley - Photo by Author

A car drives along an empty road in front of Utah’s Monument Valley – Photo by Author

1. Get the WHOLE picture
One of the most common mistakes in travel photos is missing the big picture. Avoid shots that could be anywhere in the world. Tell the story of your summer vacation better by finding elements that will instantly tell where you are and get as many details in your shot as possible. For example, if you find yourself along Route 66 this summer, make sure to geta picture with more than just the route marker. Along with the Route 66 sign, try to fit a long stretch of road, or a quirky roadside attraction, and a classic car would really take the photo up a couple notches.

Sunset over a group of sail boats - Photo by Author

Sunset over a group of sailboats – Photo by Author

2. Take photos just before sunset
Avoid the harsh summer sun and take your camera out an hour or so before sunset for great photos. During the middle of the day, the sun is very intense and will leave your pictures with bright and very dark spots. At the end of the day, the light becomes softer and lights everything with a golden glow. Photographers refer to this time of day as the golden hour. Take advantage of this time and it’s sure to produce some envy-worthy photos. If you’re an early riser, this same great light happens as the sun rises before most people get out of bed too.

Camera on a beach towel and case to keep the sand out

Camera on a beach towel and case to keep the sand out

3. Keep your camera safe
If you want to keep taking great summer photos you need equipment that actually works, and summertime poses a few extra hazards. The beach is one of the most dangerous places your camera can travel. Water is an obvious one, but sand can be just as harmful. It only takes afew grains of sand to cause problems with the tiny precision gears that make your photographic equipment work. Make sure to pack a camera bag that keeps the sand out. Lastly, the summertime staple: Sunscreen can also cause issues. Besides smudged lenses, sunscreens can actually take the paint right off your camera. Be sure to clean your hands before grabbing for your camera this summer.

A Portrait in a sunflower field with the sun coming from the side - Photo by Author

A Portrait in a sunflower field with the sun coming from the side – Photo by Author

4. Don’t blind your subjects
Don’t make people stare into the sunfor your summer vacation pictures. No one looks good squinting with a scrunched up face. Try to find a spot to take the picture with people where the sun isn’t hitting them directly in the face. Another option is to wait for a passing cloud to take the harsh light off their face. However, if all else fails, put on the sunglasses and a big smile.

Square photo at Glacier National Park - Photo by Author

Square photo at Glacier National Park – Photo by Author

5. Think square for Instagram
One of the quickest ways to show off the cool places you’ve been is to post them on social media, and one of the best platforms for photos is Instagram. In the past year, Instagramhas started accepting photos that aren’t square, but square photos still look the best on Instagram. Keep this in mind when shooting summer photos you plan to post later. Take advantage of some the phones’ and cameras’ ability to take square photos. If your camera doesn’t take square shots it can be hard to plan how it will look square. Try holding the phone or camera vertically to make sure you get everything into the square crop.

An epic shot standing at the edge of a look out in Mt. Rainier Nation Park - Photo by Author

An epic shot standing at the edge of a lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park – Photo by Author

6. Make it look EPIC
Whether on a hike, hanging out on the beach, or somewhere not super epic, make it look as cool possible. If you come across a great lookout, get a shot of you at the edge. Another way to add impact to a photo is through movement. Try a jumping shot on the beach or wherever your summer brings you. Just be careful around drop-offs, have someone help you take the shot, because you want to be alive to post your epic shot!

7. Always have a camera
During summertime fun you never know when a great photo op will happen, so always have a camera with you to capture the moment. It doesn’t always have to be a big fancy camera to produce a jealousy inducing shot. Summer vacations are full of surprise moments that beg to be captured, so be ready for them.

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Tagged: Photo essay

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog

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