If you’ve ever had an unforgettable trip to Las Vegas, chances are you want photos of that experience to reminisce over for years to come. But what happens when your vacation photos don’t live up to the experience? I mean, Vegas is such a BIG experience–why do our photos sometimes seem so. . .small? What happens when they’re disappointingly bland?
This doesn’t happen to everyone, of course. Some of you may be expert photographers. (I hate you, by the way. Kidding, kidding. . .) But when I look back at my photos from my earliest trips to Las Vegas, I cringe at some of them. Part of the problem was the camera, part of it was the lack of photo editing software, but most of it was just “user error”. I did what many people do: I rushed through my checklist of sights to see, stopped long enough to snap a picture or two, and moved on. And unfortunately, my photos tended to be very plain and ordinary. Or even worse, blurry, grainy, and too dark, like this one:
I decided it was time to learn to take better photos. So I did. And now, I’d like to help you do the same. Look, I’m not a pro. I’m not even entirely comfortable with the manual settings of my camera. So if I can learn to take better vacation photos, pretty much anyone can. Wouldn’t you love to get home from your trip and see some photos that are so terrific you want to print them in a large format and hang them on your wall? With some practice, you can!
Starting with this post, I’d like to occasionally offer some very simple photography tips to enhance your Vegas vacation photos. Tips that anyone, with any camera (DSLR, point-and-shoot or cell phone camera) can practice. Because in my opinion, you don’t have to own a tripod or understand ISO, aperture and f-stops in order to start taking more creative vacation photos today. (And you also don’t need to run all your photos through Instagram to make them look halfway decent.)
Ready to give it a try? Here’s my first tip: Look up.
(Like I said, simple tips.)
Las Vegas is beautiful from many angles, but I find it most impressive when I look up at it. And the closer you are to it while looking up, the better. The close-up perspective of height enhances that sense of awe we feel when we’re walking around the streets of Las Vegas for the first time, our mouths gaping open from the sights.
Here are some of my favorite photos I’ve shot while just doing this one simple thing: Looking up.
I get a kick out of this photo every time I look at it:
The shot below is one of my favorites of any trip I’ve ever taken. You’d never guess this was taken in Vegas (unless you know the Shark Reef really, really well).
The Eiffel Tower is so darned photogenic. I liked this unusual angle.
This photo gives you an idea of the massive size of the MGM lion. It would have been better if I hadn’t gotten just a slice of that golden statue on the right, but I still like it. I’ve never seen another photo of this lion taken from this angle.
Below is one of my favorite shots of all time. I find the Cosmopolitan really lends itself, more than most casinos, to artsy shots, thanks to that gorgeous chandelier.
If this photo of the Fremont Street Experience Viva Vision Light Show doesn’t scream “Las Vegas,” I don’t know what does:
Who can resist the ceiling shot of Chihuly’s blown glass flowers on the ceiling of the Bellagio lobby?
You really get a sense of “old school Vegas” from the old neon signs Downtown:
And last, but not least, the ubiquitous resort tower shot. I always try to get some greenery in the foreground, like a palm tree or something so it’s not so sterile. It doesn’t hurt when the sky cooperates by being a vivid blue.
A few more suggestions:
- Slow down and take your time with the shot.
- Sometimes it makes the shot look better to include something in the foreground, whether it’s you (the ol’ arm-stretch shot!), a tree, an old-style lamppost, or something else.
- Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground to shoot upward if that is going to make the picture even better. Who cares if you look funny? You’ll never see any of these people again.
- Take several photos from the same angle. This is your insurance that at least one of them will turn out well.
If you haven’t ever tried this before, give it a try on your next trip and see how much more artistic you can make your vacation photos.
What do you think would make a great “look up” shot in Vegas? (Keep it clean, folks.) 😉