Even seasoned travel photographers used to gallivanting from Fiji to the fjords want eye-popping pictures from their vacation getaways. The difference between us and them? They've learned the secrets to shooting pictures that they'll actually want to look at when the trip is over. Here are their tips for avoiding routine snapshots.

Subscribe to the AARP Travel Newsletter



1. Downtime can be special time

"Shoot moments in between, like when you're relaxing in the afternoon over coffee after walking all day," says Tara Donne, whose photos have appeared in Condé Nast TravelerBudget Travel and Coastal Living. "That, for me, gets to the real sense of vacation."

1. Downtime can be special time

"Shoot moments in between, like when you're relaxing in the afternoon over coffee after walking all day," says Tara Donne, whose photos have appeared in Condé Nast TravelerBudget Travel and Coastal Living. "That, for me, gets to the real sense of vacation."

AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS
Travel Discounts for AARP Members

Savings on hotels, car rentals, cruises, tours and airfare

SEE MORE

1. Downtime Can Be Special Time

"Shoot moments in between, like when you're relaxing in the afternoon over coffee after walking all day," says Tara Donne, whose photos have appeared in Condé Nast TravelerBudget Travel and Coastal Living. "That, for me, gets to the real sense of vacation."

2. Noon Light is Too Bright

Sun creates harsh shadows on faces and buildings, says Donne, so photograph people in the shade for more flattering pics. And since you can't move monuments and museums to a shady spot, shoot those special places in early-morning or late-afternoon light.

3. Be Smart With Your Phone

That camera on your smartphone can be more sophisticated with the right apps. "I use my smartphone anytime I'm not on assignment," says Jen Judge, who shoots for magazines such as Islands and Outside. One of her favorite apps is Camera Plus; it allows her to adjust light exposure. Others include ProCapture, for taking panoramas with an Android phone, and ShakeIt and Hipstamatic for iPhone, which let you use different filters for a totally cool look.

4. Edit on the Spot

You're not going to want to come back home and spend a long time at your computer going over eight images of the same thing, Judge notes. Delete the stinkers while you're still in front of the subject (if there's time). And, she adds, be selective even before taking your picture: "Spend a little more time making one photograph rather than randomly pointing your camera in every direction and taking 50 of them."

5. Move In

Zooming can degrade photo quality. Let your feet do the work when you want to get closer.