You hired a professional to shoot your wedding day, but unless you're a celebrity you will be on your own (sans paparazzi) when it comes to your honeymoon. We know your wedding album takes top priority, but that doesn't mean you should overlook the photos from possibly the most expensive, romantic, and exotic vacation of your life. Without some planning, you could wind up with washed-out, uninspired snapshots. Instead, use this guide to create an album of truly great photographs from your first vacation as a married couple.
Get Your Gear
First, make an assessment the camera you currently own. If it isn't up to par, now is the perfect time to buy (or register for) a new camera. When you consider a camera that works well for travel, think light and easy. Unless you are a semi-pro, it's doubtful you'll want to lug seven lens options around the beach. If you haven't been camera shopping lately, you'll find that your point-and-shoot options have expanded and that digital is coming up strong -- and has gotten much cheaper.
Once you have your camera, take time to actually read the manual (for once!) with your fiance, and then practice shooting. By familiarizing yourself with the camera, you'll take better photos and also be assured that it is functioning properly. Take the manual with you on your trip, make sure you've got fresh batteries in the camera (or a charger), and purchase backup batteries (just in case).
Time It Right
Posing in your new bikini at high noon isn't the best concept for a photo. Not because you don't look smashing half naked, but because the sun is high and bright, creating a disastrous glare and most likely a scrunched-up, squinting face. "The best time of day to take photos is early or late (before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.), when the sun is at a low angle," says Skernick. He explains, "The light has a warmer look to it and you'll have more contrast and color saturation."
For any daytime photo, the sun should be behind you (the photographer) unless you are purposely trying to create a backlit effect. If the sun just won't cooperate and the shot you want is getting a glare, use your hand to create a shield. At night, getting enough light will be your biggest challenge. Keep in mind that your flash reaches a maximum distance of only 15 feet, so get as close to your subject as possible. (Also keep in mind that shooting the Eiffel Tower at midnight with your flash just won't cut it.)
Technique is essential, but so is creativity. "Centering is boring," states Skernick, "Use the rule of thirds." To do so, separate your frame (what you see when you look through the viewfinder) into three sections. For horizontal thirds, put your horizon line at or above the top third line to accentuate the foreground, or at or below the bottom third to take advantage of a great sky. For vertical thirds, put your main subject in either the right or left third of the frame looking or pointing (with the body, not a finger) at the opposite side of the photo.
Avoid taking every photo from the same angle or position. Spice things up with close-up or panoramic shots, or place something in the extreme foreground to frame something in the background. Get a different perspective by climbing up high, or laying down low. You'll up your odds of capturing a great shot by taking a few minutes to plan it out -- feel free to snap away because film is cheap.
Sure your honeymoon will be romantic with just the two of you, but it can also make for a boring photo album if you end up with a series of "his" and "her" shots. This is your honeymoon, so you want plenty of duo action caught on film. It may seem awkward, but force yourself to ask someone -- even if you don't think the person speaks English -- to take your photo. Photography is an international language: One need only say "photo," display the camera, and point to the button that makes it work. If you feel safer with a sure thing, ask a waiter or an employee at your resort to do the honors.
Another option is a photography double date. Be on the lookout for another couple, hopefully on their honeymoon as well, to propose an hour or two of mutual photo revelry. Scout out a beautiful setting the day ahead, then return with your double date for a mini photo session. This is your chance to dress well, do your hair and makeup, and capture more stylized photographs.
After The Honeymoon
Before sharing photos, edit. If you took a dozen photos of the ocean on the same day, from the exact same angle, select just the best one or two. Trust us: Your viewers will thank you for sparing them a tedious viewing of duplicate images and emotions. After weeding your photos down to only the most exceptional, stop procrastinating and get those beauties into an album. Putting a layer of acid-free paper between the outside world and your photos will help you avoid a finger-smudged, mishmash of prints. We like the idea of using a separate album for each trip you take -- the first one as husband and wife being the most important, of course.
-- Carrie Curtis
Photo: Courtesy of Liz Zack and Mike Bruno
See More: Honeymoon Basics