Gray Malin’s new book takes on Italy

(CNN) — Even if you don’t know Gray Malin‘s name, odds are very good that you know his photography.

His photos, especially the aerial images of beaches, have become so popular that, in addition to his books and prints he has worked on collaborations with brands like S’well and created phone cases featuring some of his most beloved shots.

To celebrate the release of his latest photography book, “Italy,” the Los Angeles-based Malin shared a few of his favorite trips with CNN Travel and some tricks for how you can up your own vacation snapshot game.

14 CNN Travel Gray Malin Italy photos

Malin is best known for his photographs of beaches.

Gray Malin

“Italy” came together over six separate trips to the country. Malin, who first visited Italy as a college student, now has the perspective of a seasoned traveler, which comes across in his warm, colorful images.

He calls the book a labor of love, and it’s accurate.

In particular, Malin, who is famous for his aerial images of beach umbrellas, focused on the country’s waterways, from Lake Como to the Amalfi Coast.

“The scenery throughout the country is beyond compare,” Malin tells CNN Travel. “I wanted to capture not only what it looks like to visit each of these places, but to how truly it feels to be there as well.”

05 CNN Travel Gray Malin Italy photos

Malin captured this image while visiting Cinque Terre.

Gray Malin

In the age of Instagram, many people have tried to take their vacation photography to the next level, even if it’s just with an iPhone. And you don’t have to start hauling your own lighting setup around on a hike in order to up the quality of your vacation snaps.

Malin has a few pieces of advice.

“You want to make sure the lighting is ideal for what you are trying to capture so the subject is not shadowed or backlit. When you are taking a picture, think about where the sun is and then adjust your position,” he explains.

For example, if everyone is squinting, that means they’re all facing right into the sun and you should probably consider another angle.

“Another easy way to elevate vacation photographs is snapping pictures at sunrise or sunset, as you will capture beautiful colors in the sky which can make a huge difference in a scenic shot,” says Malin.

And one major takeaway is evident in Malin’s own work: it’s not just about how a place looks but about how it makes you feel.

08 CNN Travel Gray Malin Italy photos

Although Malin is known for aerial photography, in “Italy” his images were shot from land, sea and air.

Gray Malin

Even the simplest smartphone snapshot can evoke a deep memory or feeling of nostalgia, especially if it’s a favorite childhood spot or the location of a treasured memory.

“Regardless of your skill set, you always want an image to be able to transport you back to the moment that you took it,” he says. “Photograph something that makes you happy, that represents a meaningful moment.”

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