Vacation Photo Tip #3: take your Time

Woman tourist in infinity pool of hotel resort at ocean

My tip #2 for taking better vacation photos was concerned with what to pack and bring and how to keep all your equipment portable. Today let’s look a bit into the process of actually taking the picture.

One might think that in their vacation time people would have leisure and patience to take wonderful pictures without hurrying around too much. Yet in reality we all know the opposite is the case.


Vacation picture tip #3: take the time you need to do that perfect shot

There are deep insights into life, universe, and all the rest that we know are true. Quality over quantity. Haste makes waste. This sort of thing. But being human we seem to forget all too often that this holds true in our holidays as well. We run around like headless chickens and take a lot of pictures none of which will be worth looking at a year from now.

Of course we know that a good picture takes time. There are so many things that need to be considered. So many possibilities. So many sources for error. So there is little we can do but try different things, use the means we have got, and sometimes simply wait for better light or a better time.


Much fuss about a duck

I remember the story of a friend of mine who wanted to take a picture of a duck starting flight from the surface of a lake while there is mist over the water and the first morning sunlight brakes through in the background. He went to the lake at 5 o’clock in the morning for the light, but there was no duck. So he went again the next day, but the day was cloudy. On the third day there was no mist. And so on. He got his shot after he went to the lake at dawn for two full weeks. And the picture is great. His wife is very forgiving.

I am not a judge on whether or not that one picture was worth the effort. But the guy had a clear priority: better the one picture which is really, really outstanding than a whole bunch of mediocre works. This again, of course, has to be seen in context. If you are a microstock contributor like me, you will need a certain critical mass of images to get your portfolio going. But within that mass there has to be class as well or you will simply feed the part of the database that nobody ever sees. So it is a matter of balance.


A few things to try

Are there ways to get that balance right? I am afraid in the end you simply have to take your time and that’s it. Here are at least some ideas that might support this process a bit:

  • Think hard about your priorities. Do you want to simply document what you’ve done? Then go ahead but do not complain afterwards. Or is this about creating work with more depth? Then take the time it needs. Simply do it and know why.
  • Acknowledge the need for time. We tend to make tightly packed plans for our vacation. There is so much we want to do. Each day seems burst with activities that leave little room for something else. Make clear to yourself that you made a decision on how to spend your time.
  • Negotiate with your fellow travelers who might have a different idea about how to spend their vacation. We covered a bit of that in Vacation Photo Tip #1.
  • Taking time for photography sometimes also means not taking the time and not taking pictures at all. If you see that it is not working, it is simply not your day: let it be. Get an ice cream. Lounge at the pool. Take a swim in the ocean. Creativity cannot be forced.


Further reading: here are two articles (not specific on the topic of vacation photography but a bit broader themed) that I enjoyed reading on the matter:


Do you have a different view on the matter? Or another idea how equipment can become more portable? Let us know in the comment section below!


Woman tourist in infinity pool of hotel resort at ocean The title stock image can be licensed for royalty free use at Fotolia: Woman tourist in infinity pool of hotel resort enjoying the view over the ocean


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