5 Tips for Taking Stellar Whitewater Rafting Trip Photos

By Kolben   •   April 18, 2019

5 Tips for Taking Stellar Whitewater Rafting Trip Photos

Are you ready to take your photography skills to the next level and capture professional-level images on your next trip? Check out our 5 photography tips for your next whitewater rafting trip so you can take incredible images and impress your friends with your new mad skills.

1. Don’t Worry About Shooting on Manual

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I do this for a living and I don’t always shoot on manual, especially not when I’m on the water. The secret’s out! When you’re focused on catching the best facial expressions and splashes, there’s not a ton of time to play with your camera’s settings. So don’t sweat it, that’s why easy mode exists!

Unless you know exactly how to use your manual setting, you’ll spend too much time with your face buried in your camera and not enough time taking in the memories! Most phone, DSLR, and point-and-shoot cameras have great auto-adjustment settings. You’ll only have about 1 or 2 seconds to capture Mom getting a huge wave to the face – but when you nail it, you can file it away for a lifetime of laughs.

Salt River Group Splash - Phoenix AZ - Mild to Wild Rafting

2. Capture Candids, Don’t Pose

The easiest shot to setup is your classic, “Ok now, everyone get together and smile!” However, I bet your favorite photos to look at from past trips are the candid ones. Posed shots are great for family documentation, but candid ones show the true essence of the trip and capture priceless memories you’ll thumb through for years to come.

You may say, “But Anna, those moments happen so fast and I always seem to miss them…” Capturing candids can be tricky. First, try keeping your camera close. By no means should you stay buried in your camera the whole trip. Remember to enjoy every minute. At the same time, keeping your camera close will allow you to soak up the moment, then capture the ones you want to look back on.

Second, be sure to keep your camera set on easy mode with fresh batteries and a fresh SD card. This way it’s always ready to go for the perfect moment to strike.

Laughter Cataract Canyon - Moab - Mild to Wild


3. Faces are the most memorable

It’s incredibly easy to take photos from behind while boating, but faces make the shot stand out and more interesting. Try capturing as many laughs, close-up candids, and smiles as you can! Documenting the scenery and other interesting things is great, but at the end of the day, we treasure the photos that help us remember the people we love.

Salt River Rafting Rapid - Phoenix AZ - Mild to Wild Rafting

4. Get close – Think you’re close? Get closer.

One of the biggest mistakes amateur photographers make is taking the photo from too far away. When possible, you want to get as close as you can before you zoom to preserve the quality and fill the frame. When your subject fills the frame, it adds more interest to the photo and helps focus the shot on what you want someone to look at!

Getting close is the #1 way to make your photos look 100% more interesting and professionally composed. Once you get good at getting close, you can also start playing with different  angles. Take the shot over your subject’s shoulder, capture the detail on a flower’s petal, or shoot the photo from right under your dog’s nose. The possibilities are endless!

Colorado River-Moab Utah-Mild to Wild Rafting

5. Let’s Talk Composition

Now that you know what the kind of photo you’re shooting for, let’s talk about how to set up the shot. Like #4 said, you want to get close. But now what? Focus on these two things to achieve professional-level composition:

  • get on the same level as your subject
  • move your subject from the middle

When shooting photos of kids, pets, wildlife, or even plants, be sure to get on the same level. Ever seen a photographer laying on the ground?This is why!

Great photos are taken from the same level as the subject. No one likes a photo taken of their face from above or below. We can all agree – that just looks awkward. Have fun with it! You may end up laying in the grass, standing on a tall rock, on getting down on your knees.

Don’t worry about looking funny in front of your friends – silly positions and angles will usually make them laugh and produce an even better image!

Colorado River-Moab Utah-Mild to Wild Rafting

So, there you have it. My 5 best tips for taking stellar trip photos. But, don’t forget, the best part of your trip is taking it all in with your eyes and being present for every second. At the end of the day, you could throw the camera in the river and forget about it completely – it’s all about spending time in an incredible place with the people you love.

More Reading:

7 Things You Should Know Before Going On a Multi-Day Raft Trip

Best Places to Stay in Moab, Utah

The Health Benefits of Spending Time in the Wilderness

Get New Blog Posts in your Inbox