6 Ways to Make The Most out of your Vacation Photos

How many of you have made a trip to the Blue Ridge or Smoky Mountains, or some other destination and snapped so many vacation photos that you lose track of what was taken where?  Most of us have done this at one time or another. It can be SO frustrating.  


At the time you were standing there snapping photos you knew you’d remember exactly where this shot was taken later.  That was at 9 am.  But by 6 pm, or several days later, you have visited possibly 5 or 6 locations, and now you’ve made it back home and it’s all a beautiful blur.

I have done this many times over the years and it stings. Buying a GPS for your camera can be expensive and they are usually awkwardly placed on your camera.  So here are six zero-expense tips that I want to share with you that now keep my photos out of the “unknown” category when I get back home.

1 – Bring Your Cell Phone and Make Sure it’s Charged

vacation photosMake sure before you leave each and every time for your outing that you have your cell phone with you and that it is fully charged.

It doesn’t matter that you won’t have cell phone coverage where you are headed. Just put your smartphone in airplane mode to keep your battery from draining and stow it in your gear bag or pocket.

Take any opportunity to recharge it along your journey as well.   It’s going to come in handy, like your own personal secretary for the day! Trust me.

2 – Make sure your camera has the correct date and time correct

vacation photosMaking sure your camera hast he correct date and time is super important!!  

Double check it to make sure!  You don’t have to let it timestamp your actual photo, just make sure it’s accurate so that the camera knows the exact time and date you snapped all your photos.

Check this before you ever get out of the door.  Sunlight can make menus on the back of the camera hard to read and decipher.  




3 – Take vacation photos of signs!

Signage is vital! Make sure the person driving (if that’s not you) knows that as you enter each Park or major recognizable area you will be expecting he or she to stop in a safe place to let you photograph the entrance sign.  Don’t skip these. You’ll be thankful later.   

vacation photos

Take vacation photos of anything signage wise (like mile markers, road signs, highway markers or store signs) that will help identify where you were at when you starting snapping photos. They may not wind up in your photo album or your slideshow but they will be valuable all the same when trying to remember where you where.

4 – Get a photo of every location you visit.

So you’ve hiked a few steps or a few miles and now you are wowed by your first great view. Go ahead and reach into your pocket and pull out your iPhone or smartphone and snap one or two photos!

Now you can put the phone away, (be sure to exit the camera to keep your battery from draining).  If you have a partner or friend with you, you could ask them to be in charge of the phone snapshots.

Just make sure to grab at least one at each major location or stop.  Trust us, if you don’t do this, you’ll regret it later.

5 – Don’t skip the storyboards at small stops.  

Not every grand vista is at a recognizable location.  Even if you don’t really want that vacation photo of the “Lickstone Ridge” sign or don’t think you care to read what it says about the view, go ahead and snap at least one quick photo of it anyway.  

vacation photos - Signs

 While you are visiting these great places the signage might seem like no big deal, but later it will help you have  a well rounded viewpoint about where you were. Or at the very least when Uncle Bob asks you a question about the view you can share the signage with him and save yourself a lot of long texts of telling him that particular location.  

Be sure that your signage photos have a bit of scenery in it if at all possible. It’ll tie into your views with no descriptions that way, and it won’t be a totally boring bit when you get back home.

6.  When leaving, take a photo of nothing.  

Lastly, and this is going to sound totally dumb but humor me.  When you are leaving your destination point your camera down to the ground and take a photo of nothing or a close up of your car door, but make these consistent at the end of every stop.  Something dark, boring, and never to be confused with real scenery.

vacation photos - Stop Markers

It could even be of the palm of your hand.  You can stop laughing now. I’m going to tell you why this will be the second smartest photo you will take all day.  

This photo marks the end of your location.  These vacation photos are “signposts” on your memory card.  The beginning was marked by your Entrance sign photo, or your “storyboard”.  

Back at the hotel

So now you’ve made it back to the hotel or home and you are looking through your photos.  Be sure to add your cell phone snaps to these.  You’ll see that you will have a signage photo to start your location and a “nothing” shot that signifies that you were leaving your destination.   

After this occurs 3 or 4 times on your memory card you will start to see a pattern.  These two photos are place markers for each destination. Like the “welcome to Dallas” and the “Leaving Dallas” sign on your memory card.

If you always take a “nothing shot” after you leave each location then you will at least know that you moved to a new place… even if you’ve forgotten your signage shot.  This will come in handy when you are jumping from interest point to interest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and everywhere else too.

And that cell phone shot you take at each location will give you GPS so you can look it up later. Or, even better, most smartphones are going to tell you where geographically without your having to look up the GPS data.

One last tip …

One last tip, and it may sound dumb to you but after much heartache myself I just want to spare you the same.  

NEVER edit an original vacation photo. Or any photo for that matter.  

Cull all the ones you don’t want, that blurred, that were not usable for whatever reason and then save all your originals to a back up drive or several cd’s or whatever your process is.  

Then make a copy to edit to your hearts content.  Crop, edit do whatever you’d like. Someday you’ll thank yourself for that larger file, that unedited file when you’ve totally lost or over edited the other version.

There it is… my version of how to love your pile of vacation photos when you get home!  

This was a guest post by our friend and photographer, Rebecca Walsh of Rebecca Walsh Photography.


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