Research, research, research!

Research the location before you leave home.  Purchase or borrow travel books from the library or search the internet for ‘things to do’  at your desired destination. This reduces the amount of time spent wondering where to go and what to see once you get there.

In 2015, when I  went to the Philippines, I researched the area I was visiting and learned about Smokey Mountain.  It’s not the typical tour most people would want to do, but I have enough photos of blue skies and palm trees.  I would have never stumbled upon this place had I not done the research.

Read more about Smokey Mountain here.  It’s worth the click.

Backup equipment

I can’t do it.  I’ve tried and I’m uncomfortable with the thought. What am I talking about?

Backup equipment!

I need to travel with at least two camera bodies, multiple memory cards, and several batteries, at the very least.  I might be able to get by with one lens, but I prefer to travel with two.

So many things could happen and I rather be prepared than left without a camera.  Not everyone has the luxury of having multiple camera bodies or a plethora of photographic equipment, but if photographing your vacation is important, I suggest backup equipment.

Sure, camera phones are replacing point and shoot cameras (I love my phone’s camera and use it as well), but even camera phones are subject to being damaged, stolen or malfunctioning.

If you’re visiting a far away place you may not return to for years or your photos are of significant importance to you consider taking, but not limited to, a backup camera, extra batteries, and memory cards.

Write it down

There’s nothing like coming home from a fun-filled vacation, looking at your photos and not remembering anything about them other than you were there and took the picture.

I have many photos of buildings, trees,  flowers, and beaches, but attaching a proper name to these pictures would have been better. Take a small notebook and pencil and write down the names of buildings or locations photographed.

Don’t wait until you get home and expect to remember the names of much. My camera has a feature that allows me to attach a voice recording to each photo for this exact purpose. Check your camera’s user manual to see if you have that option.

If you don’t have anything to write on, download a voice memo app on your phone (if you don’t already have one) to record information about locations or anything you may want to remember later. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Recommended Apps:  MyGardenAnswers, KeepTrax.

Talk to the locals

I’ve visited over 20 countries around the world and I love taking photos of landscapes, but my next favorite subject to photograph are pictures of local residents.

Often times, they speak a different language, they’re dressed differently, they are of another race and I’m curious about their culture. Don’t forget to include some of them in your photographs.

I usually start with a hello, I tell them where I’m from and I engage them in a conversation.  After our conversation is over, and I have them smiling, if they speak English, I ask their name and if I can take their photo. I’ve never received a “no” response.

Check out the 101 Strangers Project on Flickr.

I don’t recommend taking someone’s photo without their permission. When in doubt, ask. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

You’ve got to be in it

Most importantly, don’t forget to include yourself in the photographs.

I prefer being behind the camera, not in front.  However, there will come a time when I’m not on this earth, and being in front of the camera is my gift to the loved ones I leave behind.

Another reason to put yourself in front of the camera is because it’s a visual record of where you’ve traveled.

There’s nothing wrong with photographing the locals, buildings or beaches, but occasionally, it’s nice to look through old photographs and say, “Hey, that’s a picture of me when I was in Switzerland.”

Happy shooting.

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