by kevin dooley
As a professional photographer who has shot for everyone from National Geographic Adventure to Modern Bride, I take the same care and planning in photographing personal trips as I do work assignments. It could be my South Pacific honeymoon in a bungalow at the Orient Express Bora Bora Lagoon Resort or a weekend car escape with the family in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
Whatever your travel plans, here are a few pro tips to help you capture memories of a lifetime.
When I hit the road, I take both my professional digital camera and my smaller digital point-and-shoot (perfect when I want to be less obtrusive, like in Scottish pubs). Make full use of your lenses-wide-angle lenses are ideal for photographing family picnics and museums, wherever you want to include as much foreground as possible. Telephoto lenses aren’t only for photographing wildlife and sports-they also make the best portrait lenses, too.
Bypass alkaline batteries in the field and stick with long-lasting Energizer e2 Lithium AA batteries for your digital camera. You’ll not only save money with lithium batteries (they last up to seven times longer) but weight as well (they’re a third lighter). It might not be critical at the family reunion, but it made a difference for me when I covered the recent Explorers Club Expedition up Africa’s highest peak-Mount Kilimanjaro. Since they also perform well in extreme temperatures, I didn’t have to worry about environmental failure. Energizer e2 Lithium batteries have another plus-they were specifically engineered to meet the energy demands of high-tech devices from MP3 players to wireless headsets.
Likewise, shop smart for memory cards, and always have a few extra. If all your vacation is stored on a single memory card or stick and it fails (which it will sometimes), you’ve lost everything. Spread the risk across several cards and invest in high-quality 512MG and 1G cards by a reputable company such as SanDisk.
If you want your pictures to improve dramatically, the easiest way is to get closer, much closer. Put on the wide-angle or zoom all the way out and then move into the scene. Kids roughhousing on the lawn? If you’re not getting bumped, you’re not close enough. Gorgeous columbines in a mountain meadow? If you can’t smell them…
Another easy way to get memorable images is to use new angles. How about climbing on top of your pickup to get that photo of the family barbecue? What about taking a photo while you’re on that roller coaster? Sure it will be blurry, but isn’t that the point?
Be creative. Photography is one of the few artistic outlets open to everyone, and in the age of digital cameras and lithium batteries, if you can imagine it, you can shoot it. On a typical assignment, I’ll shoot over 1,000 photographs in a day. On a typical family trip, I take the same amount. Why? Because it doesn’t cost me a penny more, and the more photos you take, the better photographer you’ll become. So go ahead, click away.
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