Creating a Story With Your Travel Photos

Telling a Story With your Travel PhotosToday, Renee is sharing with us how to tell a story with all those photos we capture while traveling.  For more about Renee and her previous tips on how to capture special travel memories with your point & shoot camera, click here

Let me set the scene: You just got home from an amazing vacation, and you’re dying to show everyone how much fun you had and all the cool stuff you saw. You sit down and either start flipping through actual prints (remember those days?!) or you start hitting the Next button on your camera (welcome to 2013!).

From the corner of your eye you start sensing the fake nods and the “mmmhmm, that’s nice” replies as you oooh and awww over the awesomeness of your photo skills.

And then you start saying things like “Here is where little Jimmy said the funniest thing and we died laughing and I just had to get a picture of that,” or “OMG this mountain is the second tallest in the world, and I was so awestruck just to be there.”  But.. really your pictures don’t convey that y’all were laughing at little Jimmy’s hilarity.  And gosh, that mountain looks teeny tiny!

When you’re traveling, your story begins well before you get to your destination. It happens at home when everyone is super excited about the trip!  That’s when you start capturing those emotions.

Here’s the secret: You capture emotions. By capturing the emotions, your photos will tell the story.

Here are a few practical tips and ways to think through how (and when) to let those emotions shine through your photos.

Packing: Get the shot that shows little Jimmy or Jane stuffing his or her carry on backpack in her room with all of the toys and books and techie-gadgets.  Get one when your child is looking at you just grinning ear to ear with excitement!  Then, pretend to walk away, let them get back to packing, and sneak the next shot in when they’re not looking. They’re lost in thought, seriously debating if they want the dinosaur or the action figure for company.

Airport: Grab the shot of your kids standing in front of the window with hands pressed on glass, awe and wonderment on faces, looking at the parked plane. This makes a great black and white shot!  Sometimes when we take the color out of our photos it makes us focus on the truth of the image.

Also, try capturing a shot of your kids sitting on their luggage cases, Indian style, ipod in the ears, eyes closed, waiting to depart.

Checking in to the hotel: You should probably work in a cool shot of everyone standing in front of the hotel if it’s a noteworthy or special building. If it’s your run of the mill Days Inn or Marriott, then don’t worry about it.  Instead take this chance to let your kids burn off some energy and have a little fun….. by jumping on the bed!!

Here’s an idea: Open the curtains to show the view and/or let all of the light in.  Remove everything from the bed that’s not white.  White will help reflect the light.  Now, position yourself so can fit them jumping on the bed and the window in the background!  Snap up the smiles!  Get the giggles!  Don’t forget to take turns jumping in for a tickle fest!

You’ve just captured the feeling of arriving in a new city/country and experiencing your temporary “home”.

Being a tourist: A word of caution – be careful when asking a complete stranger to take your picture and then handing over expensive photo equipment. If you absolutely must do it, then just be very careful.  Instead, I recommend finding a more secluded area and getting an iPhone Tripod or a mini tripod (I particularly love this one because it can wrap around railings and all sorts of oddly shaped things).

Using the self timer, capture family shots of everyone standing in front of that one big thing you’ve been dying to see, joy scrawled across their faces.  Now, try moving the camera down low and taking a photo from the ground up to show the magnitude of the scene.

Telling a Story With your Travel PhotosYou may end up looking like this…

Telling a Story With your Travel PhotosOr on your back facing towards the sky.  Listen – it looks crazy!  But who cares?!  It might  turn out to be your favorite image!

(Insider Tip: When you shoot from the top looking down, or from high to low, everything looks short, squatty, and sometimes fat. When you shoot from below/on the floor to the sky everything is long and lean and more grandiose. It doesn’t always work with just people in the shot, but for travel photos with people in them, it’s brilliant.)

Wrap it up: You don’t just start a story and not finish it.  So, don’t forget to get those moments when you come back and you’re tired and exhausted!  Have some fun with it!  Toss all the clothes and trinkets and luggage and souvenirs in a big pile on the floor (because it will end up there anyway, right?) and have everyone dogpile and sprawl out!  It’s the final chapter that sums up everything.

Compile your photos into a story that flows (beginning – middle – end), and then show them off!  Put the story into your annual Christmas letter, or make a slideshow for your next family gathering.  Everyone will love it, and you’ll look like you’re the mom that has her act together!

When you create a photo story, using the tips above, your vacation memories will create interest and spark questions instead of boring and annoying your listeners.

If you only take one thing away, make it this:  Have fun, capture emotions, and pay attention to your angles.

Thanks, Renee, for some great tips.  If you haven’t already, head on over to Renee’s Facebook Page and show some “Like” Love!

6 thoughts on “Creating a Story With Your Travel Photos

  1. Thanks for sharing this story! I’m getting ready to take my first trip to Alaska and I can barely contain the excitement of grabbing some fantastic shots. Not long ago, on a trip to Colorado, I inadvertently captured a storyline for my vacation. Early in the trip I realized many of my photos featured my wife and I with breathtaking skies (around Boulder, Nederland and Fort Collins) overhead. I attached my wide angle to my camera and let the fun begin. I experimented by snapping photos while holding the camera at an arms length and changing point-of-view. The photos turned out great and told the story of our trip. I’m looking forward to incorporating the ideas from the blog. Thanks again!

    • Hi Aaron! I’ve always wanted to travel to Alaska! I bet you can get some amazing shots of beautiful scenery! please share your photos with us, we’d love to see how you’ve incorporated these tips!

  2. Good tips! I have one note of caution however. At many tourist attractions they have rules about no professional photography and the one thing that will identify you as a professional is a tripod. I’ve been to lots of places where there are signs saying no tripods. If you need to ask a stranger to photograph you, ask one that has a big camera around their neck. They are there to take pictures and the chances yours will be stolen are smaller. Smaller, but not completely gone. Good luck and happy picture taking!

    • Hi Kelly! Great point. I think the tripods Renee recommended are quite small. I use a gorillapod myself and haven’t had any problems.. yet🙂. I haven’t seen any no tripod signs that I can remember, but I’m sure they’re out there. Maybe I just haven’t been to many fancy, famous, or super touristy attractions in the past few years with the little ones. Oh, and good idea to look for another person with a gigantic lens when looking for someone else to take your picture!

    • Hi Kelly! A great point indeed! the tripods I mentioned in this post are no bigger than your hand. traveling with huge tripods can be cumbersome even for the most advanced traveler/photographer!
      I am always leery about handing any camera over for someone to take pictures but I love your suggestion about looking for someone with a big nice camera around their necks! still use caution though🙂.

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