How to Take Better Vacation Photos : 5 Easy Tips for Better Travel Photography

We all know the feeling; you’re somewhere absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous, and all you want is to get that perfect Instagram or Instagram story, but your photos (or your instagram husband ‘s photos) just can’t seem to do the moment justice. The good news is there are some easy ways to take your iPhone photos from “blah” to “WOW”, so you can have beautiful memories of all your favorite vacations for years to come!

Here are 5 easy ways to step up your vacay photos:

1. Lighting is Everything

You know how you can look at yourself in the mirror in certain bathrooms and resemble Shrek and in others remind yourself of a young Gisele? Yeeeeah. Lighting is everything.  It’s a fallacy that “the best lighting is in the direct sunlight” – this is only true if you’re shooting landscapes. If you’re shooting people, the absolute worst time to take photos is at high-noon when the sun is at its highest point.  The best lighting for people is always natural light, and the best times to shoot are early in the morning or at “golden hour” – the hour just before sunset. And, if it’s dark outside and you’re shooting people, always use a flash.  If you choose to use a DSLR versus an iphone, I shoot with a Sony A7II, and it is a lighting MASTER – I also love to use this lightweight tripod on my travels to keep the camera super still and capture the image flawlessly.

2. Set up the shot before you start clicking away

Make sure to pay attention to every detail in your shot before you take it. Because we’re all snapping on our iPhones constantly, it feels less important to spend time composing a photo — but the reality is the opposite! Take time to notice how your subject is composed within the frame, how level your horizon is, how the light is hitting your subject, and if there’s symmetry in your photo, etc, and make adjustments to your perspective/posing as necessary. The little details make a big difference in taking a photo from good to great.

3. Edit, edit, edit!

The secret behind all those beautiful vacation photos you see on Instagram is that it’s not all about the photo – the magic is in the edit!

A ton of you have DM’d and emailed inquiring about my editing process, so I’m excited to finally share my Lightroom presets with you! Over the last 5 years of being a travel blogger and mastering Adobe Lightroom, I’ve developed my own style of editing for my photos around the world. On my presets shop, you can find four tailor-made collections of these editing presets for Adobe Lightroom desktop (which you need an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for), and one collection specifically made for Lightroom mobile – which is a free and easy-to-use photo editing app!
While I have always loved photography and taking photos every chance I get, Lightroom presets quite simply changed my life. Even when you think you have a perfect photo – some post-processing can take it to the next level. These presets are the exact edits I use on my photos throughout my travels!
Check out my preset collections here, and give them a shot! Whether you edit more on your phone, or are looking to really take your photography to the next level with the desktop version, these presets will help your vacation photos POP!!
PS: I’d love to see the photos you guys create with these filters! (use #jetsetpresets or tag me in them so I see them!)

4. Add more elements to your image for scale

Instead of just throwing your iPhone up for every sunset or beautiful view you see, take a second to add scale and layers to an image – this could be adding a person in the frame, or even a cocktail or wine glass. If you’re adding a person, experiment with different poses and perspectives to set the scene.

Sunday’s lookin’ up ☀️

A post shared by Christina✨Luxury Travel (@jetsetchristina) on


Eating & drinking my way through all the terrazas & plazas of this pretty city 🌵🇲🇽🍷 . One of the best things about Oaxaca is that you can explore & relax in the same day. The city is very walkable and everywhere you look, you’ll find a new favorite Mexican restaurant, outdoor market, or rooftop bar to check out! . Right outside of the city, you can go mezcal tasting, see local textile showcases, or even catch a quick hopper flight to the nearby beaches of Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. . Have you guys been to Oaxaca or somewhere else in Mexico before? . Check out the link in my bio for an awesome welcome video and Dear USA letter from Mexico, inviting you to come travel to Mexico to share firsthand the rich experiences of this country! . #DearUSA #Ad #VisitMexico #AWorldofitsOwn #FoundinMexico #MexicoLove @visitmexico

A post shared by Christina✨Luxury Travel (@jetsetchristina) on

5. Take your time!

Take your time. Don’t be afraid to wait around for just the right moment to get your perfect shot. Whether it’s waiting for cars to clear or crowds of people to pass, accept that getting the right photo takes a lot of different ‘takes’.  Using burst mode (by holding down your shutter button continually on your phone) can also help ensure you get the perfect in-action shot with nobody in the background.


By the way – did you guys see I’m now offering high-quality prints, framed prints, canvas prints, or digital downloads of some of my absolute favorite Jetset Christina images on my site?

PS – have more questions on the Amalfi Coast, or any other destination? Join the JETSETTERS secret facebook group to get & give travel recs to our Jetset Christina community and connect with other #JSCJetsetters!

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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.