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Headache Free Vacation Photos- Document Your Adventure without the Hassle

My cousin is heading on a trip to Hawaii and asked me for info on what GoPro I'm using and what accessories I use most. I thought y'all might find the info useful too!

Balancing Experiencing with Documenting
I choose to be okay with using the best photo of the actual experience instead of impacting the experience to get the shot I want.  

Set it and forget it...
I am always sensitive to how documenting an experience can impact the experience itself. I'm sure you have all heard the horror stories of people so obsessed with getting 'the shot' that they ruin their honeymoons, or worse, fall off cliffs. The way I get most of my shots in the moment is by setting my GoPro on video at an angle I think will get me something good, and then focus on the experience. I think it is okay to spend a second or two adjusting the camera angle, but I try not to get too hung up on getting a specific shot. Instead, I set it on video, try to ignore it, and just pull whatever the best stills are later. I also sometimes shoot while I am teaching, in which case I cannot pay any attention to the camera. Sometimes when I am teaching, I end up not being able to use any of the footage, but that's ok, because teaching is the primary focus of that experience, and any photos I might get are just a bonus.

Guidelines for 'Set it and Forget it' success:
  1. Use a wide angle lens or camera (like a GoPro)
  2. Set the camera in a good location to capture the action- with a wide angle lens, a little closer to the action than you would a traditional camera
  3. Set it on video and try to ignore it
  4. Use either the camera software or use Video to Photo- Grab HD Frame  app to pull stills from the video after your adventure

The Cameras

GoProI personally have the GoPro Hero 5 Black Edition ($200 on Amazon), and have borrowed my parents' GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition. I am incredibly impressed with the image stabilization on the GoPro Hero 7. I definitely think the upgrade for the black edition is worth it, because you get the display on the front showing you what setting it is in and what the camera is actively doing.

iPhone 7: I was given an iPhone 7 with a tremendous amount of storage for Christmas in 2017. There are many phones on the market with better cameras (I'm looking at you, Google Pixel) but it has a decent enough camera for my needs. The rear facing camera is far superior to the front facing camera, which often makes getting quality photos in frame frustrating when I'm shooting solo.


My GoPro on the GorillaPod 1k
while kayaking
Heavy-duty and VersatileGorillapod 1K
95% of my photos and videos are using my GoPro or phone on this Gorillapod 1K ($40). I put it under the bungee rigging on my kayak, wrap it around trees or rock while climbing and hold it in my hand like a selfie stick. It is strong and adaptable to a wide variety of situations. I've taken it in the ocean with me multiple times without any issues. The ball swivel allows me to quickly change the perspective of the camera without moving the tripod. It has a normal screw mount so I can use other types of cameras with it as well. It is a big on the large side and won't fit into your pocket.

Flexible and SmallGorillaPod 325 ($15)
If the above GorrillaPod 1K is too big, and you want something more pocket-sized, I really love the GorillaPod 325. It's my go-to when I need a versatile tripod but I'm short on space. It is super compact and has a great ball swivel for fast adjustment.

Traditional tripod: Amazon Basics Tripod  ($15)
When I need a more traditional tripod, or more height than the Gorrillapod offers, I use a great, cheap little Amazon Basics Tripod. It's packs pretty small, doesn't weigh much, and has a great height range. It does wobble some when fully extended with a big camera, and if you lose the quick release plate, Amazon doesn't sell replacement ones.

Teeny tiny iPhone 'tripod' goes anywhere: Pocket Tripod Pro ($25)
I keep the Pocket Tripod Pro in my everyday bag for spur-of-the-moment shots and videos with my iPhone. You have to enter your phone and case, and order the correct size for your set up. This 'tripod' will hold your phone in portrait mode or horizontal, and is adjustable to a wide range of angles.  This thing is tiny enough to fit in your wallet- its the size of a credit card!

GoPro Mounts

GoPro Hero 5 Black + GoPro Chesty
First Person Perspective: To get an awesome first person perspective while mountain biking or horseback riding, my favorite GoPro mount is the Chesty. I absolutely avoid any head or helmet mounts as the perspective isn't great and the weight makes your neck hurt.

GoPro Hero 5 Black + Gorillapod 1K
You + Surroundings: I usually capture this view by putting Gorillapod 1K or GorillaPod 325 under the bungee on my boat, or setting it on (or around) a nearby rock or tree. I have used the Offical GoPro Suction Cup Mount and it works pretty well, but it doesn't have a ball swivel and started corroding from salt water.  It's really the only temporary option on a paddle or surfboard that doesn't have any rigging.

GoPro Hero 3 Black + Smatree Selfie Stick

Selfies: I love the Smatree Extendable Selfie Stick that comes set up for a gopro- but it has a normal screw connection to accommodate other cameras or a phone holder. You can adjust the length of extension depending on the size of your group

Storing everything on the go

I keep all the microSD cards, batteries, cables, etc. organized in the Eagle Creek Pack-It Cinch Organizer. If I am in a rush, I can just toss everything in there and cinch it up without organizing anything. It's big enough to charge things with a battery bank inside the bag. The bag isn't big enough for tripods, GoPro Chesty or Suction Mount.

More Photo examples with gear set-up

GoPro Hero 5 Black + Amazon Basics Tripod

GoPro Hero 7 Black + Offical GoPro Suction Cup Mount 
GoPro Hero 3 Black + GorillaPod 325