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A Professional Photographer Shares His Expert Tips For Snapping Epic Vacation Pics

Summer is here, and with that comes beach days, music festivals, rooftop bars, and of course, epic summer travel plans. And let’s be honest, one of the best parts of every vacation is snapping some killer photos. Whether you’re one for hotel room selfies, seaside thirst traps, or nailing the local scenery, photos are a key component of every getaway.

After all, taking pictures is the best way to look back years from now and remember all of the incredible travel experiences you had. Plus you gotta flex on Instagram

To help you snap the absolute best photos possible on your next adventure, we spoke with professional photographer and IG sensation Brandon Woelfel. He’s sharing his top tips for capturing epic content on every vacation, no matter where you travel. From embracing spontaneity to researching locations ahead of time, read on for Woelfel’s guide to taking the ultimate summer travel photos.

Scout Locations Ahead of Time

vacation photo tips
Brandon Woelfel

When it comes to vacations, the location can really make or break your trip…the same goes for your content! It can be super helpful to do some research on the area that you’re visiting before you go. Google and travel guides are great sources to research more information on your vacation spot. However, I find that Instagram is an awesome source for finding those hidden gems wherever you might be traveling to.

You can search for hashtags, other creators in the area, and more. This can be a total time saver if you’re looking for something more specific as well. When I went to Paris, I was able to find tons of great location spots using social media; including some of the best spots to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

Plan Your Shoot

Once you’ve found the location you want to shoot in, it’s time to do a bit of planning. When shooting outside you’ll want to be mindful of the time of day. You can be at the best location but if the lighting is too harsh, or alternatively too dark, your pictures won’t always come out the way you want them to. Sometimes, you can’t plan your trip around the time you want to shoot, and that’s okay! There are options to work around this. The Nikon Z 7II’s 45.7 – megapixel full-frame sensor and deep dynamic range is amazing for capturing stunning images in low light.

Experiment and Switch Things Up

vacation photo tips
Brandon Woelfel

Something else I try to do when on a trip is play around with my camera and its settings more than I usually would. A vacation is a perfect time to switch things up! You’re in a completely new place and might even find a new aesthetic from trying something new out. Vacations are a time for me to get out of my comfort zone and I try to implement that into my photography as well.

Pack Light, But Bring the Essentials

It’s important to pack light but not forget the essentials. It’s likely that you’ll be out for most of the day so don’t overload on gear. You’ll want to remember things like an extra battery, a backup memory card, and possibly a lightweight tripod. But, keep it light so you don’t find yourself carrying tons of equipment around on your getaway. I tend to leave the props and additional equipment at home for my travels and focus more on the location and subject; even if the model is sometimes just me!

Snap the Scenery

vacation photo tips
Brandon Woelfel

Take advantage of the different scenery. Odds are, you’re probably visiting somewhere that doesn’t look exactly like where you live. Personally, living in New York, I rarely get the chance to photograph the stars. So whenever I’m traveling somewhere a little more rural, I make sure to bring my tripod along. Photographing the night sky can be challenging and finding the right settings can be time-consuming. I’ve found that with the Nikon Z 7II’s 900-second exposure feature, I always walk away with beautiful images of the night sky.

Make Room for Spontenaity

vacation photo tips
Brandon Woelfel

While it’s important to plan for a trip and any photos you may take, it is equally as important to be open to spontaneous opportunities while there! Allow the locals, culture, and weather to dictate and sway your creative process. I try to bring a couple of different lens options for spontaneous photography opportunities like this.

I always try to have a zoom lens with me like my NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S for when I can’t get too close to the scenery I want to shoot. I also recently added the NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S lens to my camera bag and it has been super helpful for taking photos in tight spaces being a wide-angle prime. Having both of these options at my disposal makes surprise shoots like this that much more accessible.

Seek Out Adventure & Unique Experiences

vacation photo tips
Brandon Woelfel

When I travel I often try to find different experiences to shoot. This can be anything from a pop-up event to a local street fair in the area. In the past, I’ve scheduled some of my trips around these kinds of events. Maybe you want to use your mirrorless Nikon Z FC camera for awesome street portraits at Oktoberfest or catch the vibrancy of Mardi Gras. Having the opportunity to capture these amazing moments of culture is like none other.

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