Move over, magnets; step aside, steins! Your new favorite souvenirs are just a click away. Take photos better than any postcard you can buy (or that you can make into postcards) and you’ll have a keepsake that will last longer than any mug or t-shirt and at a fraction of the cost. Just follow our tips below and you’ll be snapping frame-able shots in no time at all.

Irish house doorway photo: Susan Sermoneta via flickr 

1. Start a thing. Maybe you love local libraries or perhaps you’ve got a firefighter-in-training on your crew. Take your postcards from standard to collection-worthy by taking photos of a similar place or object along your travels. Vintage firehouses, modern architecture, fountains, gates. All of these can become a signature “postcard” subject that mark your travels.

beautiful lake kayak

photo: Darrell Wyatt via flickr 

2. Compose yourself. Remember the rule of three: a good photo has three main focus points. That doesn’t mean it has to be three of the same thing in a row or even three obvious things. Think of your photo as being divided into thirds, with each section having one thing of interest to the eye. Likewise, an off-center subject can make a photo more compelling.

sky photo

photo: Ekke via flickr

3. What light. In general, the best time for photos is either early morning or late afternoon. But anytime of day can work. Just be sure that whatever source of light you are using is behind you/the lens and be mindful of your shadow, especially at high noon. Or make shadows part of your composition. For a lower-light photo, be sure to use a handheld tri-pod to get the clearest shot. Try your shot, then try again with the curtain pulled, a lamp on, etc. 

road sign postcard photo: Thomas Hawk via flickr

4. Put the artist in tourist. Your goal is to not only get something beautiful, but something that is recognizable as unique to the town you are visiting. Look for old signs in antique shops, names on the sides of ships and unusual street signs to capture the “feel” and uniqueness of the place you’re visiting.

What are your favorite things to photograph? 

—Amber Guetebier