Welcome to our totalorlando blog.  As professional photographers, we thought we’d share some Travel Photography trade secrets with you!  Some, you may have seen before, but a few may be new to you, either way, we hope that you are inspired to pick up that camera and think differently about those precious travel snaps!


In Our Top Travel Photo Tips Guide We will look at;

  • Using flash on sunny days!
  • Turning off flash and turn up ISO at night
  • Not deleting images from a card
  • Backing up images to another device
  • Spare batteries and cards
  • Invest in Photoshop Elements
  • Adjusting your file size settings
  • Condensation – a camera useless for hours!
  • Read the manual!
  • Look at travel mags for inspiration!

Get Flashy!  Turn it On For Daytime!

What?  On a sunny day?  Absolutely!
The problem with bright sunny days is that harsh contrasts appear in images unless you do something about it!

Simple Solution;

The 'Lightening Button is your friend!'

The ‘Lightening’ Button is your friend!

Turn on that Flash during bright daytime shots.
The effect is astonishing if the subject is a few meters or so away.
Most flash systems on point and shoots lose effect after 5 metres, so the advantage diminishes if the subject is further away.
Be careful as battery usage rockets quickly!  Keep a spare handy!

What the professionals do;
Either use a flash that is set up off the camera to creates a fashion style image.
(On-camera flash is great but it’s a big taboo for lots of pros), or, use a white reflector of some sort.
Portable reflectors are amazing, and bounce sunlight back into the subject beautifully, creating an effect that you will instantly recognize in almost every location fashion shoot!

Even the most portable of reflectors are too bulky for tourists.  A big white wall is a godsend; learn how to use them to great effect!

Flashy at night?  Knock it off!

Again, contrary to what you believe, nighttime shots are usually best taken without flash.  Most point and shoot cameras have auto settings geared towards snapping pics of people a few meters away (that’s the biggest demand!).
As such, at night, the camera just pops out that flash, exposes the image perfectly for the nearest object it sees, (usually a person, or worse still that bottle of wine on the table) and your picture has a completely dull background!
Stand in front of Cinderella Castle at night with the flash on and chances are you won’t see a thing of it in the image!

Simple solution;
Turn the camera to night mode if you’ve got it, or learn how to set the camera to a higher ISO setting (effectively makes the camera more sensitive to low light levels).

Both night mode and that ISO setting pretty much do the same thing and the background becomes more visible the higher the setting goes.
The disadvantage, is that pictures become ‘noisy’ and grainy as that ISO goes up, but it looks much better than ‘dark’.
When you buy a camera, make sure that you understand the capabilities at high ISO if you intend to shoot a lot at night!

What the professionals do;
Firstly, they buy the very best cameras, that are capable of working at very high ISO settings without making ‘bitty’ looking images.  The Canon 5d MKIII is an amazing example!
Secondly, if they are working indoors, they fit an external flash to the top of their camera and point it to the ceiling.  If the ceiling is white or light grey, the flash hits the ceiling, which acts as a huge big flat light source that lights up the entire room.

Never delete Images from the camera back!

If you find yourself regularly running out of space on your camera’s memory card, buy a bigger capacity card right away.
Whatever you do, don’t delete an image from the back of your camera.  The file structures are complex and to be honest, more delicate than people imagine.
They don’t like being messed with, especially by a very low cost, mass produced piece of kit such as a camera!

The risk of deleting the wrong image is high, but the risk of corrupting the other images as a result of deleting a ‘duff’ image is significant!
If you’ve ever seen those files with half the picture missing or error messages; file not found, file can’t be read etc, you now know why!

What the professionals do;
They carry a lot of cards, all high grade.  Sandisk produce some very good, yet low cost cards.
They increase in reliability as you work up the range, and some are designed to withstand extreme misuse!
The delete button on the camera is never used by a pro for the reasons above.

Backup your pics!

Google performed research on Hard Disk failure rates, revealing that the failure rate of a two year old disk averages 8%. (Almost 1 in 10 two year old hard drives fail!)
Precious data can be lost on vacation, through simple loss, theft or data corruption.  It can also be lost at home once you’ve transferred files to your computer!

Simple Solution;

At least back your files up once!
A good solution is to copy them all to a portable hard drive after each vacation, then copy that hard drive onto a relative’s machine for added backup.  You would have a really good chance of saving your precious images that way!
Don’t rely on DVDs, they are ok for a while, but they are known to deteriorate in time.  Cloud services such as Dropbox or iCloud are fantastic, and often free, but offer low capacities unless you pay extra.

What the Professionals do;

They shoot to a card and they keep the images on the card until multiple backups have been confirmed back to him/her.
They will create at least two high performance hard drive backups, possibly three on location to avoid having to raise the expense of a reshoot (models, makeup, equipment etc).  They will also keep every image taken, even the test shots as a permanent record on those backup drives.
Remember that those drives are still vulnerable to failure.

Keep Spare Batteries and Cards!

The camera is useless without them, and your vacation mementos will suffer badly if you run out of either.

Simple Solution;

Always bear in mind that you may stumble across something amazing on vacation that requires your camera’s undivided and battery sapping attention!
Also consider that power points aren’t always readily available, so when you find one, fully charge at least two batteries for your next daily jaunt!
Cards are easily lost (even those with precious images on them) so take care and have a very rigid rule about where you keep full and empty cards.  Also, remember that tourist destinations value your money highly enough to double or treble the cost of a low capacity card that you might desperately need!
Ski enthusiasts need to take even more care, as low temperatures can sap the energy of a fully charged battery by as much as 90%!
You head out onto the piste with a full battery only to have 15 minutes of shoot time!

What the professionals do;

Pros always carry, enough batteries to do the job several times over.  They carry car chargers, room chargers and always use the original manufacturer’s batteries.  Replica batteries are highly unlikely to be as good as those produced by the manufacturers.
Cards are high capacity and again, they have enough to shoot a weeks worth of work in one day!
In low temps, the pros will keep their batteries inside their clothing to use their body temperature to maintain battery performance.

Check Your Camera’s File Size Settings

Most cameras allow you to adjust the size of the image files taken during each exposure.  Different sizes have their pros and cons!

Small File Sizes 640×360
Great if you just want images for Facebook and online use!

Medium File Sizes 1920×1080
Perfect for the above and printing postcard size images

Medium Plus Sizes 2816×1584
Perfect for all of the above and printing up to A3/A4

Perfect for all of the above and printing up to A2

Smaller sizes enable more images to be saved to your disc.
Larger sizes produce larger prints and allow better quality images when modified in Photo Software such as Photoshop.

Invest in Photoshop Elements

If you’ve ever wondered why pro images look so good, the answer is simple, the photographer went to every possible extreme to get things right ‘in camera’.  Once that’s done, he, or his retoucher, will again go to every possible extreme to lift the image further using Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom or other advanced packages.

Simple Solution;

You too can lift your images, in many cases to a good standard with a few simple clicks of Photoshop Elements.
At around $100 or so, Photoshop Elements can perform some great ‘one click’ fixes and effects to tidy up an image, or offer you some very sophisticated tools.  The package includes tutorials, but lots of easy to follow tips can also be found on youtube.

Watch out for condensation

Cold conditions are a huge challenge for a camera.  Take a cold camera into a warm environment and you will temporarily render the camera useless as clear air and clean, dry lenses are essential in producing a clear image.

Simple Solution

Always try to keep your camera at or around the temperature that you intend to shoot in.
For example, if skiing, keep the camera in a protected layer nearer the outer skin of your clothing.  If you know that you are going to soon head indoors, move the camera closer to the inner surfaces to keep warm.
When you shoot in cold conditions, learn to hold your breath whenever your face is near the camera to avoid condensation.
Never be tempted to rub the lens!  It will dry off when the temperature balances.

Read the manual!

Make sure that you know how to do some basic stuff with your camera before you head out on vacation.

Simple Solution;

Take a pdf of the camera manual on your smart phone or tablet.

  • Learn how to set the flash to Auto, Don’t Fire, Always On
  • Learn how to adjust the ISO

Copy the Professionals!

Come up with some great vacation shots!

Simple solution;

Remember that great pictures often have three things; a great foreground, a great subject, and a great background.  Even a fantastic photographer would struggle if you took one away!
Get some ideas by looking at travel blogs or tourism magazines.
Copy a little bit from them and try to include at least one idea in every shot!
Don’t always have the subject slap bang in the middle!

What the professionals do;

Believe me, no pro would ever turn up at a job without looking at lots of research material first.  Most photographic concepts stem from classical art compositions, and every professionally trained photographer out there heavily relies upon art theory.
Also, use google images and search for your destination for ideas.  You will see some great stuff, and also some awful images.  Don’t ignore the bad stuff, try and think why they look like that!

Create Super Smooth Video!

If you could do just one thing to make your social media videos really ‘pop’, it would be to clip your own cell phone into a ‘steady cam’!
The prices have tumbled and the quality has reached new levels as bloggers and social media fans try to put a professional edge to their online movies.
Easy to use and small enough to place in a large cargo short pocket!
They will change the way you make your precious memories!
(See the product reviews and Amazon links below!)

Hair & Makeup!

No point spending several thousands of dollars to travel to the most photographed place on earth, just to look like you have completed a half marathon!
Ladies especially like to look their best, so take a look through your previous vacation snaps for some clues about what you will focus on next vacation.
Hair is the big factor, and the biggest tip for enthusiastic social media divas is to get into the parks early, before the sun heats up the sidewalks and get some great shots while your hair is still bouncy and fresh!
Always take a travel hairbrush, they aren’t great, but much better than nothing!
Anti Frizz products are also essentials for a theme park visit!
Use some good quality oil free SPF foundation and carry a small powder case to reduce the shiny red face effect.
Finally, the backup for later in the day is a sassy hat.  Choose a winner and you will always look great whatever the weather or time of the day!

What the professionals do;

Need we say more?  Makeup artists and stylists are one of the most important elements of a professional photoshoot, so follow the lead and keep your fabulous look at its best!

The Golden Rule!

We often get asked, which is the best camera?
The best answer I could sincerely offer is “the one that you have with you!”
Many a great shot was ruined by leaving the camera in the hotel room.

Also read this lovely article about looking your best for Disney photos from Touringplans.com

Our Reviews of the Best Camera For Vacations!


Camera Total Orlando Team – Camera Review Buy on Amazon
Mobile/Cell Phone Steady Cam X-Cam bring the most versatile ‘camera steady’ using a motorized gimbal for perfectly smooth and steady video footage.
Shoot professional style family videos with this amazing device!
Canon Powershot D30 Underwater Toughness and great versatility!
Take and abuse this camera anywhere!
Canon G1X For Professional quality control without the hassle of a DSLR, the G1 X is a dream of a camera for creative photographers that need that extra quality.
Incredible night time capabilities, with or without flash!
Full Manual and all of the usual ‘Auto’ options.
GoPro Here5 Incredible action shots from the newest and latest version that is waterproof and voice activated!
Canon 5D Very much the undisputed leader in Travel Photography equipment!
The Canon 5D and 24-105mm L zoom lens offers just about all you need for the most professional of images.
Bulky for sure, but with a little practice, this pricey combination will deliver a lifetime of enviable images and video!