Take Vacation Photos Like a Pro: Tips from Times-Picayune Cinematographer David Grunfeld | Entertainment/Life

After two years of intermittent lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions have eased and people are traveling again. In fact, with more and more people returning to work, the need to relax may be greater than ever.

And with the holidays come photos, on social networks or simply to share with family. How do you make these vacation destinations and experiences as fabulous as you remember them?

We asked David Grunfeld, Times Picayune | New Orleans Advocate director of photography, for some tips.

First, have fun

The most important thing is to enjoy your vacation. Slow down instead of having an iPhone or Android camera in front of their face. Less is more.

First of all, the most important thing is to enjoy your vacation, he said.

“It’s really important for people to slow down and not take so many photos instead of having their iPhone or Android camera in front of their face,” Grunfeld said. “Less is more.”

But when taking meaningful and useful photos, Grunfeld encourages vacationers to think about composition and technique. To create vacation memories you’ll remember for years to come, pay attention to these five points.

  • find good light
  • Keep it clean and simple
  • Pay attention to the composition
  • Search people
  • To be curious

Spending time on Little York Lake celebrating the 4th of July with the Parker family, best friends from my hometown.


Whether you’re using an iPhone, Android or traditional DSLR, Grunfeld said to “follow the light” when taking vacation photos.

“Nice, quality light will enhance your vacation photos,” he said. “What I would like to share with my friends is, ‘Look how romantic this place is’…Your vacation photos should reflect what you’ve been through.”

Give us your best shot!  Submit your favorite vacation photo this summer, and we might publish it

Calling all holiday photographers!

He said to think about light that might appear differently than typical shadows or reflections. He suggested walking down a street at sunset or sunrise or thinking about how a place would look during a rainstorm, for example.

Grunfeld said light is the most powerful element any great vacation photo can have.

“Good quality light is your friend. Poor quality light is your enemy.”



Laurel Springs North Carolina.

Grunfeld said as a little boy, he sat around a carousel spotlight with his family while his dad showed all his vacation photos for them to remember. After two photos, he recalls, he was bored.

The photographer compared the carousel spotlight to modern social media.

“How do you get people to thumb stop?” he considered. “How do you get people to stop scrolling to look at the pictures?”

The answer: Keep your photos clean and simple.

First, it’s important to check your background, he said.

David Grünfeld and Henny Youngman

“While I was a perpetual photography intern at Syracuse Newspapers while attending Syracuse University, I had the pleasure of taking a selfie with Henny Youngman at the New York State Fair in the early 1980. Team photographer Michael Okoniewski caught me in action,” says David Grunfeld, right.

“If you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower (for a selfie) and you say ‘I’m taking a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower’…you don’t want the Eiffel Tower to pop out of your head, like you’re combing your hair. Eiffel Tower,” he said.

The cinematographer also suggested that if holidaymakers choose to shoot video, it’s best done in short snippets.

“People are going to get bored after 15 seconds,” he said. “Pan around…Make it interesting.”



Shelter Island Yacht Club.

It’s an old rule of thumb: divide your field of vision evenly into a nine-part grid: three vertical lines, three horizontal. Position the main elements of your photo along these lines. It’s much more interesting than placing the main image in the center of the field.

The smartphone is here to help, Grunfeld said. Activate the grid on your phone, then place the topics on the rows of a third. The slightly off-center composition keeps the viewer’s eye moving. This will make the photo more convincing, Grunfeld explained.

And Grunfeld said you can take the best vacation photos just with your phone. He encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the features of their phones’ camera apps. Light exposure can be adjusted, for example, which is a great way to enhance your snapshots.


Early morning fishing on Little York Lake in Preble, New York.

Whether it’s a smartphone or a DSLR, “the best thing before you go on vacation is to understand how the camera works,” he said.

Grunfeld also suggested minimal photo editing. He said if you’re going to edit your photos, make sure you style them so people know it’s not real.

“The worst part is you’re watching something and you go there to eat it, and it’s awful, or you go to the waterfalls and there’s no water,” he said. -he declares. “If it’s a gray day and you’re in Paris, don’t turn the sky blue because you’ll look back and say ‘oh I remember that’.”

Above all, slow down to compose a photo.



Meet Bill Cox, owner of Scipioville Garage in New York’s Cayuga County.

Grunfeld encourages vacationers to photograph people they meet along the way. In the case of nature, for example, he said people can create a scale to show the vastness of a place. He also argued that people look and act differently everywhere you go, and capturing people can help you remember your experience.

However, Grunfeld reminded travelers that the most important thing is to put down their cameras and enjoy the moment.

“Places are about people. People are not places,” he said.



Harry & Peg’s on Shelter Island, New York.

Overall, Grunfeld said the photos were about storytelling and curiosity.

He suggested vacationers try to photograph all the senses while on vacation. Sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch all need to be considered, he argued.

“And if you take a walk for five minutes? ” he said. “It’s all about curiosity, not just what’s in front of you, and then once you develop that curiosity and think outside the box, your photos will be different from everyone else’s.”


Sam, Magill and Isaac Grunfeld at a Krispy Kreme in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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