After a recent Caribbean cruise, Caroline Schechter opened her favorite souvenir: a scrapbook featuring vacation photographs and printed travel materials. The album documented a multigenerational family trip and represented a unique investment of time rather than money. Of course, great travel photos were the centerpiece.

"I gather all types of brochures, maps, advertisements, itineraries and theater receipts from my trip. When I get my photos printed, I pull out all the various brochures to decorate the album," she said.

To make your photos the stars of your own album, here are a handful of tips for taking vacation shots.

GET CLOSER Use your zoom lens with gusto, and move as close as possible to your subject. With this strategy, the item you're photographing emerges as the dominant element in the picture. "Get in close. It really shows an intimacy with your subject," says Ellen Goldberg, a professional photographer, and co-author of "Kashrut, Caste and Kabbalah," a book of photographs and text.

RESPECT CULTURES Proximity, however, does not override good manners. "Be respectful," says Ellen Goldberg, a professional photographer and author of "Kashrut, Caste and Kabbalah," a book of photographs and text, who has taken photos in India, Israel, Sri Lanka, Nepal and many U.S. cities. "You pack suntan lotion. You need to pack knowledge and sensitivity as well." Do your homework about local customs and culture. Be aware that flash photography is banned at certain attractions, particularly museums.

SKIP THE COLOR Sepia-toned or black-and-white shots add mystery and drama to dreary days with poor sky color. The lack of color adds a vintage feel to certain images and elegance to otherwise lackluster material.

SIMPLIFY THE SHOT Unless you're going for a panoramic nature photograph, avoid wide shots filled with multiple elements. Select simple subjects, such as signs, individuals, market products or animals. Streamline the process by using a digital camera, which provides the freedom to delete experimental pictures and try again without printing costs.

DON'T OVERLOOK THE FOREGROUND Bold details in the foreground add depth and interest. Tree branches and bush leaves can be used to frame European castles, ancient Asian temples and South American cathedrals. Rustic fencing provides additional atmosphere to pastoral animal shots and barbed wire brings an edgy, intense element to urban shots.

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