It wasn’t long ago when vacationers snapped and clicked with fingers crossed, hoping to have a few good pictures when they returned home. In the age of digital photography, things should be easier. But regardless of the equipment upgrade, vacation photos often look dull, amateurish and indistinguishable. Our in-house expert, LN photographer Sarah Crowder, weighs in on what travelers should do to capture the moments they’ll want to remember.

How can travelers take better vacation photos?

While on vacation, you'll have tons of landscapes or sunsets you want to photograph, and they will look better if the horizon is in the top or bottom third of the frame, not the middle.

When taking pictures of your family, ask yourself, Where is your light? Look at people's eyes: Are they squinting? Is their face too bright? Next, try moving your body. If you're always standing in the same position, at the same level, all your pictures will look the same. If you squat, bend and stretch, you'll have a better, more interesting photo. Tell a story with your photos. Try to take pictures that flow; not every photo has to be faces smiling into the camera.

What can families do to reduce picture-taking stress?

If you're with your family and you want to do a family picture where everyone looks nice, don't do it all day. Frame the shot first, and then have everyone come in and smile. It’ll keep your kids from feeling like All mom wants to do is take pictures all day. And don't train your children to say cheese! It's not fun!

For moms, it's sometimes hard for us to be in the picture. Let your children take some of the pictures—it’s a good experience for them, and you can finally be in a few.

Are there any common mistakes travelers should look out for?

One mistake would be to buy a new camera the day before you leave for a trip. You'd be better off using your phone and know what you're doing, than having a fancy camera and not know how to turn it on. You can buy a new camera, but become acquainted with it beforehand by taking a class at a local camera shop. Make sure you're stocked up with memory cards and batteries.

How can average people take a more professional-looking photo?

I always put the sun behind my subjects and pop a flash. Try shooting in a semi-shady spot to avoid the raccoon-eye look. Don’t take pictures in a museum using a flash—it doesn't look good, and it's rude.

And remember, if you really want a great landscape photo, buy a postcard. It’s not because you're not a good photographer, but because you don't have the luxury of being in the perfect location at the perfect time to catch the ideal light. I buy postcards on vacations all the time!

Anything else?

It's more important to enjoy your journey than to document it. Make sure you're not spending too much time photographing things instead of seeing them with your eyes.

After your trip, do something with your photos. Don’t let them just die on your memory card. Plan a day after your vacation to upload your images. Print them out, share them with friends or make a photo book! I have two cross-country trips that have not seen the light of day. They’re nothing but data on my computer, and that's not helping me enjoy my trip. That’s when you know you're done with photographing your vacation—when you’re holding your memories in your hands.

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