My husband always teases me that we could never run “The Amazing Race” and win because I would want to spend too much time stopping to take a picture of something. Ok, so maybe that could be true. I can’t help myself. I want to catch the essence of what I am experiencing and bring it back to share, and inspire others to do the same.

Many of us are guilty of just taking a quick picture of a building, a mountain or a beach, and then just moving on. But your photos could hold so many more memories of what you were experiencing at that moment if you stop and absorb your surroundings. Take in the tiny details, or at the opposite spectrum, back up and take in a broader view. Sounds a little confusing? I’ll explain myself.

Say for example, you are on a Fijian island (one of my favorite places to be) and you decided to take a walk outside of your resort. You are strolling down a dirt road and you decide to snap a quick shot of the landscape. Now stop and take a moment to observe. Did you notice the group of young boys in the field next to the road playing soccer? Or did you look down along side of the road and notice that small bush of those spicy peppers you love to eat. Take a picture of the details. Capture the smiles of the boys as they play and when you are back home looking at that picture you will hear their giggles in your mind, bringing a smile to your face. Or focus your shot in on those bright red and orange peppers to remind you of the spicy dish you enjoyed that last evening you dined at your resort. Don’t bring back just a bunch of pictures. Bring back photos that share the story of your memories.


At the other end of the spectrum is remembering to take in all your surroundings. Don’t just take that “selfie” with a small portion of what may be a waterfall behind you. Or how about that wonderful shot of your husband in front of a tree? Back up. Shoot the picture of your husband in front of that tree on a path that leads to the rickety-looking wood and wire bridge you managed to survive using when you crossed that stream. And about that selfie, well maybe find some trustworthy soul to hand your camera over to. First, set up the shot so you can now see the ginormous waterfall cascading into this azure pool. Then hand over the camera and set yourself on that moss covered boulder. Now your friends back home can take in the beauty of where you were at that very moment and experience the essence of it for themselves.

The next step is to let your photos tell the story for you. Picture this…you and your friends have decided to go into town to experience the local cuisine. You all decide to lunch at this quaint sidewalk cafe. Now snap a series of shots. Take a picture of the streets signs so you can remember exactly what corner you were on when you look back at your city map. Take a picture of the cafe and the tables where you are sitting. Snap a shot of your friends perusing the menu. Another of someone sipping their beverage as you wait for your food. Food!


Take a picture of your meal before you devour it so you can imagine the taste again when you try to replicate it at home. And for giggles, maybe take that shot of your husband stuffing that last bite of desert into his mouth. Now maybe take one more parting shot of the cafe a little way in the distance as you walk back down that city sidewalk, capturing the hustle and bustle that surrounded your lunch venue.

On a different note, here’s a little tip that might come in handy when battling those pesky weight restrictions as you fight to stuff all your mementos into your suitcase before returning home. Try taking a photo rather than buying that souvenir. Want that wonderful wood carved mask, but it’s too big for your suitcase and you can’t afford to ship it home. Take a picture.

Ok, now that I’ve told you what to do when taking pictures on your vacation, what I am going to say next may sound a little odd. PUT THAT CAMERA DOWN. Take a break from your photographic efforts. Remember that you need to experience the story as well as document it. Isn’t that why you decided to take a vacation in the first place? Enjoy your artistic endeavors, but more so, enjoy being in that very moment and absorb it so that you can regale your adventure to your friends when you return home.

And when you get home, a cool idea to showcase your memories is to create a shadow box. Find one of those deep frames, or even one of those liquor gift boxes you see during the holidays that are made of wood and have a glass/plastic lid, and put your mementos like leftover coins, a coaster, postcard, ticket stubs, and some of your own photos in it. Believe it or not, you can find some great ideas on Pinterest if you are feeling uninspired.