Shoot Away the Summer

Post by TWiP Contributor: Huba Rostonics

Summer is here, usually with the long awaited family vacation. Travel is an excellent opportunity to take great pictures and who does not want to have some kind of memories of their trips? Here are some tips to make the most out of it:

1. “Dress” adequately. If you have lots of gear, tailor your bag for the destination. Wildlife: bring your longest lens (you can also rent lenses), hiking: wide angle, city: medium range, wide angle.

2. Go snapshot. A point and shoot is great to carry for those active days, if you are going out with the kids around noon, you would be better off with your smaller, waterproof point and shoot than your heavy DSLR. Who wants those noon shadows anyway? You will still have a camera to capture the moment. Save the DSLR for the artsy shots during the golden hours.

3. Prefer road-trip over flying. Ground-level just offers so much more photo opportunities. Pack some drinks and snacks, this way you can stop for photographs at off-the-beaten track stops, not to have a drink at the gas station. It is also cheaper.

4. Plan slack into your itinerary. This way there will be no rushing you when you are waiting for that cloud to be in just the right place.

5. Tell a story. If your trip has a purpose, the better. But if you have not figured this out yet, make a story about the expectation of the trip, have plenty of shots the week BEFORE you leave, maybe even have the kids submit plans or draw a map and then record it on film (sorry, SD card).

6. Make it a family project. If everybody is engaged, they will cooperate more and will nag you less when you are taking the fifth shot of the same thing compensating exposure…

7. Surrender the helm. Let your sweetie drive, this way you do the important things, like photographing and manning the iPod. (now that I say that…take a look at bonus #2!).

8. Go undercover. Pack a “day bag”. Especially at “adventure destinations”, it is important not to be spotted as the Ugly American with the expensive photo gear. Pack a regular backpack or messenger bag, the simplest and oldest you have. Place your gear in a protective case (hard is better, but at least cushioned) inside the bag. This way most people will think it is a ham sandwich and a sweater what you are carrying. Of course, avoid any camera manufacturer logos…

9. Have a backup plan. Have some device where you can download your cards. You have to have enough cards so they last for the day. You may also want to carry an external drive and give it to your partner.

10. Before you go, go online. Read about your destination, its history, places to photograph. Look at photographs of the place. Maybe make a list of shots you want. Are there any festivals in the area during your stay? What's special about the weather this time of the year?

11. (Bonus) Be lazy, it is a vacation. Build in a couple extra days at the pool if you can. You will come home more rested, will have some time to catalog your shots on your laptop, and it is just extra slack that you could use if you find out last minute about this great destination!

12. (Bonus #2) DJs rock. Make a note of the songs you listen to, these can become a soundtrack for a flash presentation enhancing the “memories” piece.

Have a great vacation!


Huba Rostonics is a Weston, FL-based Photographer, Blogger and Photography instructor. He is constantly looking for new things to put a frame around. You can check his work at He also publishes a free weekly photography podcast in Spanish on

Photo Credit: Mattias Bergdal

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