Living in the moment is a great rule of thumb for any traveler, but it’s always nice to have a camera on hand to document your adventures — helping make your favorite memories last a lifetime.

We have plenty of “photographic evidence” of vacation photo fails in our Unfiltered Photo Sweepstakes and regular Caption This posts on our social media channels. While these photos are an endless source of laughter and entertainment for us, it also presents a great opportunity to highlight helpful tips in the never-ending quest to capture frame-worthy vacation photos.

While you’re more likely to win Free Parking through our photo sweepstakes and Caption This fun than you are a Pulitzer Prize or Best Picture award, you can still strive to take stunning images that better capture your travels with just a few easy steps. Here’s how you can become a vacation photo-taking pro, or at least more of one:

Plan (only some of) your shots.

While it’s smart to have photo ideas in mind before you go somewhere, thinking ahead too much could create expectations that are hard to meet if just one or two things don’t go according to plan. Photos in front of certain landmarks and backdrops are too good to pass up, but after that, go back to living in the moment.

Once you snap those obvious, can’t-miss shots, simply have your camera ready for the unexpected. You can’t predict when a bird will fly onto your friend’s shoulder, or an amusing flash mob breaks out before your eyes. The best spontaneous pictures only happen because of prepared photographers.

Take advantage of the golden hour.

If there are any shots planned, time them during golden hour.

Photography is all about timing, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s consensus regarding the ideal time of day to take photos. If you’re not familiar with the golden hour, grab some outdoor shots the hour after sunrise or leading up to sunset. You’ll see what we mean, and you won’t regret it.

Variety is key.

Many camera rolls are filled with repetitive images: Sunsets, plates of food, groups of friends with their arms around each other. There’s nothing wrong with these photos on their own, but they are undeniably predictable. Playing around with different angles and compositions will allow you to really get creative.

You don’t always need people in your shots either. But when people are your focal point, they shouldn’t always be posed. Candid photos make for some of the best shots, and burst mode is an action photographer’s best friend.

Don’t hesitate to pull out your camera when you come across a picturesque scene during your next trip. You never know when you’ll snap your next screensaver. And if your efforts instead capture a meme-worthy scene, don’t delete it! Consider entering our Unfiltered Photo Sweepstakes for a chance to win Free Parking and a Shutterfly gift card.

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