Even photographers need a vacation. But when you find yourself planning a vacation, don’t you always get excited to bring along your camera and shoot for fun?

There’s something fun and inspiring about being able to shoot anything you want, whenever you want, knowing it has no implications on your business.

But as a photographer, it’s also no fun showing up with thousands of others, and getting boring pictures with a ton of other tourists in them. If you’re going to shoot for “fun”, how can you do it the best way possible?

Plan Your Vacation Shooting Trips Now

Even though we head out and shoot for fun on all of our vacations, we’ve found several tips that will help you shoot at more than an amateur level – and maybe help you get some dynamite images that you can sell on stock sites, or create your own art and set up your own art gallery.

Here are 7 tips to help you plan your next shooting vacation.

1. Use your children’s breaks and long weekends.
If you have kids, you probably travel during their off times. Which means you’ll be vacationing with large crowds of people, especially at the more touristy locations. Look at your child’s schedule, and plan for shorter trips on more non-traditional times. For instance, my daughter’s school district gives them a fall break around the last week of October. This is a great time to still pick up some of the fall colors, and avoid large crowds.

2. Plan trips at the beginning and end of summer.
School systems are changing. More schools are going later into June, heading back into school in early August, or having year round school systems. Plan trips at the beginning of June and end of August to still have great summertime weather, yet decrease the amount of people visiting the same locations.

3. Head to the best locations on off hours.
Families tend to tour areas at set times of the day. Mid to late mornings and afternoons will be the most crowded times, and will also be the worst time to photograph. Instead, get up before dawn and grab breakfast on the go. You’ll find amazing sunrises with little traffic. Also grab a picnic dinner, and watch the sunset too. Again, while families are heading back to the hotel and having dinner, you’ll be able to capture beautifully images – and if you do have the kids along, they’ll enjoy being able to explore a little more with less people in the area. We spent a week in Moab last summer, and we’re completely surprised by the lack of tourists after 5pm. On one hike just before sunset, we were the only people on the trail, and took some amazing photographs as a result.

4. Make people a part of the scene.
In some cases, tourists may actually add to the image. Get creative with your portraits, or with creating a scene. How can you tell the story? If there’s a group of people, that’s what you’ll remember, so include them in your image.

5.Be a part of a tour.
If you’ve never been on a cruise, I would highly recommend it. You can head into multiple ports over several days, and find some amazing opportunities while you’re there. If you stick to the tourist ports, you can get the colorful life of an area, and find some amazing opportunities with street vendors. Or take a shore tour, and head into remote places where you’ll find very few people – just natives offering you a world of opportunity. We found some gorgeous photo opportunities on our trip into Panama and Mexico a few years back, and other than the 30 people on the bus with us, we could photograph to our hearts content with no one other than the local villagers in the photographs. And it also allowed us to find some places we will travel back to in the future – without a cruise ship.

6. Find opportunity in your own area.
I love quick trips where I can spend a day or two, head out away from the office, and enjoy something new. Your area is filled with vacation opportunity. Grab a tent and head out into the back woods. Or find a quaint bed and breakfast, and spend the day viewing through the eyes of a tourist. This can also help keep you motivated, especially during busy times (like summer wedding season). Put those dates on the calendar now – you’ll thank yourself later.

7. Just have fun.
Shoot as a tourist, and have fun with what you do. We spent a day at Disney World a couple of years ago with our little point and shoot, and had a blast. Because we understand angles and how to find unusual shots, we took some amazing images that have become some of our favorites – and helped us build an incredible album that we’ll always look back to remember a great day. We didn’t sell any of our images – we just had fun.

And realized why we love photography so much in the first place.

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