How to make your honeymoon photos POP! {w/fab photog Laura Monfredini}

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How to make your honeymoon photos POP! {w/fab photog Laura Monfredini}

Last week, I shared a gorgeous Irish wedding shot by Laura Monfredini. I loved her photography style so much that I started exploring her blog and noticed several images taken during a recent European vacay. I always find it interesting to peek into vacation photos taken by professional photographers ... seeing what they focus on, how they frame the shot ... it's almost like a free class on composition for amateurs like me. ;o)

So I started thinking ... how great would it be if Laura shared some tips for making vacay photos POP ... like, say, for your honeymoon???? Well, lucky for you and me {as I'm about to set sail on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise -yay!!}, Laura agreed! Read on for her fabulous advice:

I was so excited when Sarah asked if I would do a guest post for Classic Bride with some tips for making your honeymoon pictures better. I just love photography, and honeymoons, and giving out advice, so I couldn't wait to jot down my ideas. Here's my top 10 to get you started & I'd be more than happy to answer questions in the comments:

1. Have a camera with you. This may seem completely obvious, but the best way to make sure you have great pictures is to take a camera with you. It's a little easier to have a camera on hand these days with all the smart phones out there, but I like to have a little more flexibility with my shots than those offer. Because I'm a total photo nerd, I usually have one of my SLRs with me, but even I don't like to carry them when I just want to go out and enjoy the day. For the normal couple on a honeymoon, I recommend getting a really great pocket camera. I have a Canon s95 & have taken this little guy with me on tons of trips. It's a great camera for serious photographers because it has manual controls (I can pick my f-stops and shutter speeds!) & they're so easy to use that I think anyone could pick them up pretty quickly. It's on the more expensive side of pocket cameras, so if it's a little out of your budget, I'd suggest looking into an older, used model (I think it was called the s90).

2. Learn what your camera can do. This goes along with No. 1, know your equipment. Play around before you go. Learn a little about photography -- there are some great online resources (I like "Short Courses in Digital Photography" ) that will explain the basics of how f-stops and shutter speeds work. For those of you who already know such things, my tip is to shoot people on low f-stops and to slightly overexpose (you do this by adjusting your shutter speed and ISO on a digital camera). A slight overexposure will erase wrinkles. It's like building photoshop right into your camera. For landscapes and architecture, you want to shoot on a higher f-stop and faster shutter speed to capture details.

3. Shoot what inspires you. I've noticed when I travel that if one tourist takes out a camera and shoots something, that almost every other tourist with a camera in the near vicinity will try to take the same picture. I'd suggest thinking about what you really want to take a picture of and what inspires you and focusing on that. I never remember (or care) about certain statues or castles or churches. I like to shoot the feeling of the place I'm in. I focus on getting the overall scene and then zooming in on some element of it that will tell a bigger story. I skip the things I'm "supposed" to shoot. I look for my own "postcard" shots.

4. Shoot your story too. Not every shot has to be postcard beautiful either. Don't forget to take pictures of the funny things that happen and that you see -- random signs, weird things you ordered to eat that just were not what you were expecting, local Starbucks offerings, whatever you're into and that you just get a kick out of. Those make for the best stories, in my opinion.

5. Don't forget the people. I think that the people in any given place are just as interesting as the architecture. I take a lot of pictures of locals and tourists. I would just recommend not forgetting to respect the subjects -- some people don't want to be photographed, and some local spots ask you not to. Just pay attention and you should be okay.  

6. Ask a lot of people to take pics of you for you. Confession: I am not good about just handing my camera over to strangers to ask them to photograph me and my guy (Bill) because I worry too much that I'll ask the wrong person to take my picture and they'll run off with my camera. When I am more trusting, this is one of the best tips I have. Ask people to take your picture & ask someone else to do it again right away & then ask someone else. It can be hard to find a good photographer on the fly, but you can mitigate against this problem by having a lot of different people take your picture. You'll be happy to have some options when you get home.

7. Photo each other. Some of my most favorite shots ever are the ones that my guy has snapped of me in candid moments & that I've taken of him the same way. Turn the camera on each other & try to sneak a shot here & there. Since Bill is my photo partner, I just crack myself up taking pictures of him taking pictures. These always make me smile & think about how lucky we are to share a passion.

8. Plan a photo project. I love to discover things that are very "local" and to shoot a series that focuses on these things. A few years ago, Bill and I vacationed in Cape Cod & shot cottage doors. They were all brightly colored, unique but unified in their concept. I'm also partial to window boxes, cafe set-ups, anything that instantly transports me back to the place I visited. It can be fun to look for these things together & they make for a great souvenir if you frame the pictures together or in a collage when you get home.

9. Look for the light. Every photographer out there, myself included, is prone to waxing on and on about "the light". That's because it's just really really really important. Great light = great photos. Early morning light is lovely & so is the late afternoon light right before sunset. Bill and I plan to take photo walks during these times and we leave museum going to the harsh light of mid-day.
10. Composition is King. When I was first learning photography in college, my professor really emphasized composition. It's not something that gets as much discussion these days with all the focus on the technical side of photography, but in my mind, composition is still absolutely critical to great photography. I was taught to pause before you click & look around the whole frame of your photo to see if you like what's there. This takes a little more time and isn't easy to do, but it does come more naturally if you start training your eye to do this. There also are technical tricks you can learn to help with this, like the "rule of thirds" (google it for a lot of commentary) & they are a good starting point to get your mind thinking about composition when you're looking through the lens. Put it on your reading list along with your camera manual!
10. Leave the camera home (or at least in your bag) when you really just want to unplug, unwind, and enjoy the moment. Sometimes you need to put the camera down to get inspired all over again.

Fabulous tips, Laura! Thanks so much for sharing your insight! I love that you mention 'people shots' ... on my last vacation a few weeks ago {to the French Riviera and Provence region}, I felt so inspired by an older lady's impossibly chic ensemble {it included a cape and fabulously huge sunglasses} that I was compelled to snap an inconspicuous shot of her. She just seemed to ooze French refinement and embodied the intangible essence of the Côte d'Azur. I love the idea that a person can speak just as loudly and tell just as great a story as a cafe scene or historic setting. I will make sure to try and capture more interesting people on my next vacay! ;o)

Cheers to great vacation + honeymooning photos! And, remember, if you have any questions, ask Laura in the comments! :o)

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