CONTEST: Take Amazing Summer Vacation Photos

Where are you going this summer? Share your best vacation photos on Half Moon Bay Patch using these tips from local photographer Stuart Nafey. Then, readers can vote for the photo they think is the best in the comments.

Mediocre vacation photos? They're the bane of every traveler. Half Moon Bay Patch photographer Stuart Nafey shares simple tricks to help your shots win oohs and aahs instead of yawns.

Fill the frame Get up close to your subjects and eliminate anything that does not add to the picture like empty sky or trash cans in the background. Move around until you get a well composed picture.

Let your camera focus Before taking the picture, push the shutter release only half way down and then wait a few seconds. This is when the camera evaluates the scene, focuses on the subject and sets a good exposure. Do it before you tell your subjects to smile and you will be ready to get a good picture at the right moment.

Look for the light If the sun is behind you, your subjects are squinting. Not good. Try to get the sun lighting the scene from an angle or from the side. If the sun is behind your subject, you will have even lighting on their faces and their hair will be lit around the edges for a nice effect. Or move your subjects into the shade for even lighting. Light reflecting off of a bright object like a white wall can help, too.

Learn to turn the flash off and on If the sun is behind your subject, and your subject comes out too dark in the picture, turn the flash on to add light to their face. If you are in a museum, you should turn your flash off and look for ways to stabilize your camera so the low light pictures are in focus.

Look for wildlife Wherever you go, there are bound to be critters different from what you see back home. Be alert and have your camera ready at all times. Take a shot before they move. If they don't move, slowly get closer, taking shots as you do. But don't try that with alligators or rattlesnakes.

Give a camera to your kids As soon as they can understand what a camera is, include them in the vacation activity of photography. They will thank you today and for years to come with pictures from their unique perspective.

Share the best of your vacation photos here by uploading images to this article. Make sure to include a caption and your name for credit. Then, readers can vote for the photo they think is the best in the comments. The winner will receive recognition on Half Moon Bay Patch with an article, spotlighting their photography talent. You could win!

Photo entries and voting in the comments section will be open through 5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 3, and the winner will be announced bright and early Tuesday, Sept. 4!


  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, click on "Upload Photos and Videos" above and add a photo from your vacation you wish to enter. Be sure to include your name and the location of the photo in the photo's caption.
  • All entries must be received and votes must be logged by 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3
  • You may enter each vacation photo only once. If you have more than one vacation photo you wish to enter, you may enter each one once.
  • Readers who wish to vote for their favorite vacation photo should leave a comment in the comments section of this article naming the photo they wish to vote for. The winner will be determined by which photo receives the most votes. If there is a tie, the editors of Half Moon Bay Patch will determine the winner.
  • The winner will receive recognition on Half Moon Bay Patch for their photography talent.

Stuart Nafey's Intermediate Digital Photography class starts July 12. To register or for more information, email stuart@stuartnafey.com. 

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