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Everyone knows that one of the best things about taking a vacation is taking photos. Not only are photos a great way to show your friends and family the experiences you had, but also to memorialize the special moments in your life. Besides, what good is a vacation if you don’t have the photos to make everyone else jealous? A cruise vacation is no exception. In fact, a cruise offers even more opportunities to capture special moments and dramatic scenes as your destinations will be varied, often from day to day. Each new setting brings a new opportunity to capture memories. You are going to want to make the most of those opportunities, so you can look back on your amazing cruise experience whenever you like. Below are some important tips on how to maximize your cruise photo-taking opportunities on your cruise.

Before we jump into taking cruise photos, it’s important to note that most cruise lines employ professional photographers. They will often be in certain locations at certain times, such as on the dock while guests are disembarking at a port of call. Guests are not obligated to have their photos taken, or to purchase any of the photos. Usually, private sessions can be arranged on the ship as well. Often, different photo packages will be offered for review and purchase if desired. However, you can take your own amazing vacation photos while taking advantage of other cruise deals.

When taking your own photos, you want to make the most of the setting and the light to capture your special moments. Remember, this is your cruise, and you want to tell your story. Rather than taking the shot that everyone else is fighting to get, find the shot that reflects your personal cruise experience. Maybe it’s the bowl of fruit placed tastefully on the table in your cabin, or the deck chairs glowing in the early morning light. Taking photos that are meaningful to you will make the experience that much more intimate and create memories you’ll carry long after your vacation is over.

Another tip to remember when taking photos on your cruise is not to be confined by your space. Spaces in cruise ships are often compartmentalized, and cruise ships also have varying levels, both inside and out. Get creative with your angles. Angle your camera in the corner toward the ceiling for a “bird’s eye view” shot. Go down to deck level and shoot up. Have fun with the use of space and height on the cruise ship to get some creative and unique captures.

One of the most important elements in capturing a great cruise photo is the lighting. Natural light is often the best for photography, and the best natural light occurs in the early morning and late afternoon, the “magic hour” just before sunrise or sunset. This is particularly true on Caribbean cruises, as the light in this region during these times is especially grand. The right lighting can make or break a great vacation photo.

A steady hand when shooting photos can be the difference between a crisp, clear shot and a blurry mess. This is of particular importance on a cruise ship, which is often in motion. Never hold the camera away from your face. You simply cannot steady a camera this way. Use the bridge of your nose as a camera holder to keep it steady. Or, have a third party steady the camera for you. There are also several low-cost devices on the market that will screw into most cameras and on which you can safely steady your camera to take a great cruise photo.

You’ll want to get familiar with your camera before embarking on your adventure. Don’t wait until the night before your cruise departs to start understanding how it works and the mechanics. Take practice shots in various settings to get a feeling for the aperture and shutter speed. A little practice can make a big difference, especially if you want to use manual modes or different lenses.

On your cruise, there will be ample opportunities to take breathtaking shots of the landscapes you will encounter as you reach your destinations. As you’re shooting a landscape from the ship, be aware of clouds that cast shadows over the land. Shadows can add more depth and emotion to the overall setting. This comes into play with capturing your photos in the right light.

One of the biggest, and often favorite, parts of the cruise experience is the food. Whether on board or sampling the local flavors of your destination, the eating experience on a cruise is a pleasure for the eyes as well as the mouth. You may very well want to document these unique dining experiences to remember the delicious flavors you savored on your vacation. When taking food photos, try to shoot straight down on the food from above the plate. It’s as simple as that. Another idea with food photos is to capture your meal being prepared. Perhaps it’s guacamole being prepared fresh at your table or the ritual of opening and sampling your wine selection. Still another suggestion is to shoot close-up photos of food, to capture the textures and details of the local cuisine.

Try to avoid flash when taking your cruise vacation photos. Use available light to make your photos stand out. Lamps and lighting can be used to make your photos more dramatic and memorable. Camera flash can be harsh, and photos will often not come out as expected.

Generally, while on your cruise a good portion of the “fun stuff” and memorable moments will occur in the middle of the day, perhaps on a shore excursion. Unfortunately, when shooting during the day, the sun will be at its brightest and shadows can be particularly harsh during this time. To get the most out of these images, make sure your subject is always facing the sun. If you or your subject are back-lit, or the sun is behind you, you will end up looking like one giant shadow. Taking pictures in the midday sun can be rewarding, if you use the light to your advantage.

Photos are the perfect way to remember and memorialize your amazing cruise vacation. Following these simple tips will make for some gorgeous, frame-worthy shots.

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