VACATION IDEAS

Our Best-Ever Reader Photos—and How to Take Your Own!

What does it take to make Budget Travel's coveted back page, where we feature the finest reader photographs? Learn how to combine a great location with a fresh, unexpected point of view to make travel-photo magic.

  1. "In the darkness, everything was still buzzing, but it was somehow hushed—reverent, even. Locals and visitors sat at cafés outside the Pantheon, taking it in and perhaps imagining the millions of people who have shared this same experience."

    (Courtesy TimothyState/myBudgetTravel)
  2. "Everyone takes the classic vertical shot to fit the whole tower in the frame, but that way, you miss so much life below it. I chose to focus on just the base to capture the Frisbees, the cotton candy, the tourists in line. I've still never made it to the top—I'm too distracted by what's going on underneath."

    (Courtesy lavenderdays/myBudgetTravel)
  3. "To achieve this shot, we created a whole theater out there in the middle of the night. I set my camera to a 30-second exposure, while three others in our group 'painted' the moai with the beams from their flashlights, leaving the statues perfectly bathed in light."

    (Courtesy awc007/myBudgetTravel)
  4. "We arrived at the palace at midday, and the contrast between old and new immediately struck me: the traditionally dressed Buddhist monk using a digital camera; the sparkling new fountains in front of the 17th-century building."

    (Courtesy jacksonn298/myBudgetTravel)
  5. "While walking down Whitehall to the National Gallery in London, we passed the famous guards on horseback. A puddle from a recent shower reflected the scene perfectly. The Union Jack and its vivid colors, the crowd pressing in to capture their own photos, the guards in their finery—and even the puddle!—are all reminders of a city that captivated me."

    (Courtesy MPayne13/myBudgetTravel)
  6. "Traffic in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. In this photo, the limitations of my point-and-shoot actually helped: As the camera tried to focus on the light, it created dark, blurred edges, which better conveyed the mood."

    (Courtesy ateliercypher/myBudgetTravel)
  7. "While climbing the steps of Sacré-Coeur, I spotted a group of schoolchildren, each clutching a balloon. Their excitement was palpable; something was definitely about to happen. Sure enough, their teacher gave a signal, and the children released the balloons with a high-pitched chorus of 'au revoir!'"

    (Courtesy photojen222/myBudgetTravel)
  8. "Photography is very popular in Japan—sometimes it's hard to find a place to stand because you're surrounded by photographers. I'd managed to find a spot to shoot the stage performance at our town's annual flower festival when I saw a bunch of little girls dressed in kimonos, shouting and chasing one another."

    (Courtesy dni/myBudgetTravel)
  9. "The church was predictably crowded—people were going this way and that, gawking at the ceiling, taking photos—but at the same time, it was nearly silent. These amazing beams of late-afternoon light poured through the oculus, and you could feel a palpable presence in the room. Even now, we look at this picture and both get the chills."

    (Courtesy marjen/myBudgetTravel)
  10. "There's something thrilling about watching tourists scream for their lives. On this particular June day, I found myself under the Brooklyn Flyer, just as the ride—and the screams—started up. I was able to capture the scene from an unexpected angle, and now, every time I look at it, I can't help but feel a bit queasy, as if I were in one of those seats!"

    (Courtesy jorgeq/myBudgetTravel)
  11. "It was several months after a cyclone and Myanmar was in turmoil, yet here I was in this serene moment. I wanted to capture the contrasting styles of the rowers—the boat on the left seems symmetrical, while the boat on the right seems completely off-kilter. I wish it had been dinner time, so the sun would have been setting behind the boat on the right, silhouetting the rower."

    (Courtesy taxtracker/myBudgetTravel)
  12. "The Brooklyn Color Run is one of those experiences that you have to have at least once—a race where people are constantly smearing brightly colored powder all over one another. I was able to capture a sense of being close to the action—but kept my camera safe—by using my 85mm lens and watching for special moments like this."

    (Courtesy jorgeq/myBudgetTravel)
  13. "When I saw this lady, I had to take her picture. She spoke no English, and I don't speak Spanish well, so we used hand signals. She was silent the entire time, but her eyes were so playful and feisty as she pulled this fan out of nowhere and began showing off."

    (Courtesy tuckerg/myBudgetTravel)
  14. "I happened to be passing St. Paul's Cathedral, so I dove in to escape the rain. The sun had started to come out and the rain was clearing. The light was breathtaking, as the clouds cast geometric shadows on the square below. It didn't last long—the rain picked back up almost immediately. Little did I know you could stumble on such a great way to see the city."

    (Courtesy sheila78/myBudgetTravel)
  15. "The University of Wisconsin students have a real sense of humor. Their Lady Liberty on the Lake prank is a classic image of Madison that has made it onto postcards all over the city."

    (Courtesy CliffK/myBudgetTravel)
  16. "The dog balloon had drifted up a little valley, and if I could get to the right spot it was going to float directly in front of the sun. The thing about those balloons is that they're beautifully illuminated if you can get the light right behind them, and I managed to capture this just as the sun peeked out from behind the leg. It wasn't until I got home that I discovered exactly what I had."

    (Courtesy RickCollier/myBudgetTravel)
  17. "On my second day in Panajachel, a town on the northern shore of Guatemala's Lake Atitlán, I got up around 5 a.m. to prowl around. The lake is normally very busy with boats, but at this hour, it was deserted, save for this solitary fisherman rhythmically casting his net. I didn't plan this shot, but he happened to move just where I wanted him to be."

    (Courtesy rwilks/myBudgetTravel)
  18. "Down a side street, I spotted two musicians playing bandoneones while a couple danced slowly, like they were completely in love. If I could explain Sintra with just one picture, this would be it: romantic, timeless, and enchanting."

    (Courtesy mimic/myBudgetTravel)
  19. "Powered hang gliding over waterfalls in Maui, Hawaii. After strapping in at Hana Airport, the guide and I rose to about 4,000 feet. At that point, he cut the engine, and we drifted down. Below, I saw the waterfalls at Oheo Gulch, a full-circle rainbow, and the black-sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. My adrenaline was pumping the whole time."

    (Courtesy uw4505/myBudgetTravel)
  20. "Toward the end of the meal, I put down my pinot grigio and spotted this inverted reflection of La Compañía church in my glass. I started snapping photos, and this shot was the best of five. It captures the spirit of the moment and will always remind me of a life-changing trip to Peru."

    (Courtesy trcox2/myBudgetTravel)
  21. "One afternoon, we came back to our vacation rental, the Oia Riva Villa, and hung our suits up to dry. Something about the color of the two-piece against the whitewashed walls struck me. In the early evening light, this little scene perfectly captured the essence of our trip."

    (Courtesy laratada/myBudgetTravel)
  22. "Wandering down the road in Bali, I came upon this duo headed toward the temple, carrying offerings to be blessed by a Hindu priest. They never stopped walking, and I never said anything. Undistracted, they exuded such a natural calm and beauty. I felt as if I'd been waiting my whole trip for exactly this shot."

    (Courtesy jfenson/myBudgetTravel)

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