Tips for Taking the Best Vacation Photos

Photography By July 21, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

Want to wow your friends and family with the best vacation photos? Sometimes even a fantastic destination just doesn’t seem to do the trick in your pictures. Here’s how to let your vacation photos speak a thousand words–and really show off the majesty of your chosen vacation spot!

Change up your cityscape

When visiting large cities, especially famous ones, it’s a great idea to get a picture of the skyline. But too often they can look generic. So shake it up! Take pictures of cityscapes or famous buildings from a different angle, like in the reflection of sunglasses or a bay or lake if the city is close enough.

Capture the scope

Shots from above help show off the landscape, especially if your photos require scope. This could be of a valley, canyon, or other majestic geological feature. In these cases, or in cases where climbing is not safe, a drone would be a great option to get a wide, high shot.

If you don’t have access to a drone, try climbing up somewhere high–if it’s safe!–and taking a shot down on the scene.

You can also shoot upwards, especially when at the foot of a building, tree, or other tall feature. These are great for showing off an interesting architectural shape or for showing scope.

Take pictures of people from far away

Another great way to show a landscape’s scope is to take pictures of other people from a distance away. This shows off the majesty of your surroundings, or even the height of a building if you can manage it.

Capture candid shots

Does your family groan every time you want to take photos of them? While forward-facing, posed shots can look great with the right lighting and backdrop, don’t try to force every photo. Feel free to get a few shots of your family just playing or exploring.

This is also good because, fun as they look, Instagram and social media trends can be a hassle. Your family may not appreciate the amount of staging necessary, and it may not turn out the same way you are hoping. Find what works for you, and don’t force a good shot.

Photograph silhouettes

While on vacation, people often have the chance to see incredible sunsets. But the clouds and light alone can be difficult to capture, or they can lack a subject despite the gorgeous colors. If you want to include your family and get a beautiful sunset picture, try capturing the silhouettes of your subject with the light from the sunset. The contrast of light and dark, done right, is truly stunning.

Shoot during the “golden hour”

On the note of sunsets, the hours just before sunset and just after sunrise are excellent for photography. You’ll not only be able to get amazing sky colors; the softer lighting works very well on many subjects like people, as opposed to harsh noon lighting.


Finding Your Pioneer Ancestors

Family History By July 14, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

Utah’s Pioneer Day is coming up quickly! On this July 24 holiday, we celebrate the entry of the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. We love using this holiday to celebrate our ancestors, regardless of faith or nationality, and the pioneers–literal and figurative–who came before us.

As such, we want to help you find those pioneers in your family! Wherever they came from and for whatever reason, their courage should not go forgotten.

Mormon Pioneers

If your family has lived in Utah or the Rocky Mountains for 100-150 years, chances are you have Mormon pioneers in your heritage! Due to careful wagon and handcart company records, it’s easy to determine if your family came into the area as part of this migration.

To start, search your tree for ancestors who died in Utah, but were born elsewhere. These ancestors likely come from eastern states or Europe. Other places they might have died include Arizona and Idaho, since Mormon pioneers settled in these places at the same time.

Find an ancestor who matches the description? Check their name via the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database. This site uses names from rosters, journals, and contemporary sources to determine pioneers who came over the plains to Utah and the surrounding territories. This also gets updated frequently, so if you’re in doubt or wish to add information, you can submit a request. Remember that when you’re searching for a woman to check both her maiden name and her married name, if available.


This makes it even easier to identify Mormon pioneers. All you have to do is build your tree on this site. Then, go to You’ll receive a list of pioneers in your family tree, verified by the Church History Library. It should look like this:

Also, as you can see, you can access the company in which your ancestors traveled. Plus you can see your relationship to them, if you don’t know it already.

Westward Expansion Pioneers

Many of us have ancestors who participated in the famous Oregon Trail as well. While many of us played the video game, these ancestors lived the difficult 2,200-mile trail west.

Note that not every west-bound traveler ended their journey in Oregon. Many pioneers left the trail and settled in places like Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana. So if you have an ancestor who came from the east or Midwest but didn’t die in Oregon, that doesn’t exclude them from the famous Oregon Trail group.

Look for ancestors who moved west anytime between the 1830s to the 1860s, and these almost certainly used the Oregon Trail. If your ancestor moved west between the 1860s and the 1890s, they may have used the Oregon Trail. But they also may have used a train, especially after the completion of the Trans-Continental Railroad.

If your ancestors came to the Oregon Territory before February 14, 1859, this qualifies you to join the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers. Here, you can preserve pioneer history, share your families’ stories, and make great connections with the descendants of these brave pioneers.

Not part of the Mormon or Oregon Trails?

There are many other trails pioneers used to travel west. Use the same steps to search your family tree’s records for westward movement and immigration. Then, check out other American trails like the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail (used from 1775, led into modern Kentucky) or even the Trail of Tears if your family has any Cherokee ancestry.

Now Tell Their Story

Once you’ve found your pioneer ancestors, share their legacy. Use MyCanvas to create a beautiful family history book and hang onto those memories. You can tell the story of your family’s decision to move west, focusing on those courageous pioneer ancestors. Or, simply make your pioneer heritage a page in the story of your rich family heritage. It’s completely up to you with our customizable books!


5 More Mobile Phone Photography Tips and Tricks

Family History By May 26, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

All of us have used our phones to take photos–whether of our family, of a sunset, or of interesting sights along a walk or hike. But they don’t always turn out great, sadly. That’s simply because many of us aren’t familiar with our phone’s capabilities, or how to enhance a photo without overdoing it.