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You, Mom. Yes. YOU.

Of all the ways to remember our trips, photos have always been the best way to preserve those memories. And I am in almost none of them.

My number one photography tip is to make sure that the photographer gets in front of the camera a little bit every single day. In my family, I’m the shutterbug. That means that I have tons of shots of things that I’m interested in, and of course tons of shots of my family. But they have almost none of me. And now, years later, I wish we had more.

It doesn’t matter if you feel ugly or fat. First of all, you aren’t, and second of all, ten-years-older-you will just be glad to have the pictures. I have a feeling she will be a lot kinder to you than you are right now, too. And if Dad is the photographer in your family, take the camera out of his hands once in a while. I promise, PROMISE, the day will come when you will be so grateful for those shots.

Good equipment makes a difference, but it just depends on what you are most interested in. I love the artistry in learning to take photographs, so I’ve invested in a decent DSLR and very good lenses over the years. (Be warned! This is a never-ending spiral!) Plenty of people are happy with their iPhone shots, too. But use that equipment. Don’t let it languish in your pocket or over your shoulder.

Take a class! You’ll be surprised at how a very little bit of effort can yield much better pictures. I’ve never taken a class in person, but I’ve taken Karen’s class on-line. I can’t say enough good things about it. You can even find classes on Craftsy, and those classes are entirely on your own schedule.

Take pictures of the really mundane things. Food, restaurants, where you stay, the funny car you rented…I forget to take pictures of these, but they are so much fun to have in later years.

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Take pictures of faces! I’m bad about getting pictures from too far away. Aim for a mix of close-ups and landscapes. Don’t underestimate the selfie.

Finally, don’t freak out that you don’t produce a beautiful scrapbook or photobook immediately upon returning home. We went to London in the summer of 2014, and I have just started putting that photobook together on Shutterfly. It has brought me so much joy to go through those pictures and remember all the fun things we did, the great food, the beautiful sights. All of the bad parts of that vacation have receded and what is left are the very best parts of our English adventure. I feel like I’m reliving a wonderful vacation–merely looking through the book won’t give me that.

Enjoy the process. These memories are worth preserving.

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