Easy photography tips for family travel
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Want to avoid the dreaded awkward family photos or just make sure you capture all those amazing family vacation memories?
Holiday family photos can be some of the most precious memories of childhood. On fun family vacations everyone is relaxed and often the scenery is pretty special too.
Making sure you capture the best vacation photos doesn’t have to be difficult!
No matter the destination, from family cruises to hiking through national parks and road trips, holiday photography can be a skill you can learn, even as a photography beginner.
Follow these basic photography tips for family travel and you will be sure to come home with vacation pictures you will treasure for a lifetime.
Photography For Beginners
If you are new to photography then make sure you learn photography basics before you leave for your family vacation.
Find photography classes for beginners in your local area, join a photography club or teach yourself online. Knowing a few simple things about camera settings and composition will take your vacation images from okay to amazing.
I’ve done a HUGE post on some really easy travel photography tips that can improve your photography.
Here’s a quick video that shows you some photography basics if you are new to photography.
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Know How To Use Your Camera
Another great tip is to get to know your camera before you travel.
If reading the manual is not your thing ( and whose is it???), then just watch some clips on YouTube. There are so many helpful photography resources online to help you learn how your camera works.
If you are wondering what camera is best for travel photography, I asked a few of my favorite travel families to share what cameras they love to take when they travel with kids.
Pack The Right Photography Gear
If you are on a relaxing family holiday…you don’t want to be lugging around a whole heap of photography gear.
Think ahead about what activities you will be doing, day trips you might have and conditions you will encounter then take the bare minimum.
Here are some ideas of things you may want to take depending on your family vacation destination:
- Your favorite lens
- An action camera like a GoPro
- Charging cords etc
- Spare battery
- 3 or more camera cards
- A hard drive to download images
- Good quality Camera Bag
- A comfortable Camera Strap
Traveling with just one or two lenses is ideal. Although it can be hard if you are used to having a big selection of lens it really makes you more creative with your images as well as freeing your time and energy to soaking up those family vacation vibes.
There’s one last tip for before you leave on your family holiday.
Plan Your Trip Ahead
Before your trip scroll through some travel hashtags of your destination on social media, look through others travel photography. Find places that capture your interest and would love to photography.
Make a note of these to take with you and keep in your travel bag or journal.
Although you don’t want to plan your trip around the photographs you want to take, this list will remind you of beautiful places to see and help you think more about the vacation photographs you are taking.
Travel Family Photography
How To Take Amazing Travel Pictures Of Your Family
So you’ve practiced tips on travel photography, are a whizz on your camera, packed light like a pro and are on your vacation.
How else can you make sure you take travel photos you are going to love?
It may seem obvious but always have your camera with you! Some of my all-time favorite photographs are funny vacation images that I caught on the fly when I least expected. Because your photographs don’t have to be perfect…they want to take you back to that moment and make you feel.
Make sure your camera is in an easy to reach place where you can take a photograph quickly.
This is one of the reasons I now wear my camera with an over shoulder strap rather than around my neck. I found my Canon was too heavy and bulky around my neck, and I was leaving it in the hotel room or in the camera bag more and more.
With an over shoulder strap it’s super comfy, I can quickly grab my camera for a shot, or move it to behind my back if I need to help the kids with something.
Most amazing travel photos you see have been captured by people that travel for photography. Since you are on a family vacation first and foremost don’t expect to take the same sort of images.
A family vacation means you have to work around children’s sleep, things to do with family and planned activities.
This might limit you from finding the perfect location for a picture or sitting until the light is just right. But it also means you can get more creative!
Find unusual angles, look at a place through the eyes of your child ( getting down to their level is great) and capture the adventure you are on.
Using silhouettes is one of my favorite ways to be creative.
What is drawing you to take a photograph or a place or moment?
You want to make sure you capture that essence so that when you look back through your vacation photos you feel that same way again! Even better if you can make family and friends feel the same way when they look through your images later.
If you love that fountain because the locals are chatting and using it as a meeting place then get the kids to join in the atmosphere rather than standing next to it grinning at the camera.
Maybe the busy market place is so much fun because of the bantering and colors? Give the children some coins and see if they can barter like a local while you capture from a small distance.
Creating feelings and atmosphere for those looking at your image is one of the big secrets to taking amazing travel photos.
Your family vacation is not just about those sweeping landscapes. It’s about trying new foods, learning new things, sleeping in different beds and the quiet moment’s in between activities. Capture these!
It’s often these little things that we forget first, but that can be the most meaningful to us.
Capture a sweet smile on your child’s face while they play with a local child is worth a thousand forced smiles from a posed image.
Travel with kids can be hard work! It isn’t all giggles and joyful family time. Things go wrong, kids fight and get tired.
Don’t force kids to be in photographs…or smile. If they are busy with something and not taking in the scenery then capture that. You may find that these become some of your favorite family photographs as they are real and honest.
Be A Storyteller
Sure, you want at least one family photograph with an iconic backdrop. But does that image really tell a story about your family vacation? Other than you were there and how old the kids were, it doesn’t even begin to tell of the adventures you had.
Instead of having lots of posed photographs think more about capturing moments as they happen, including the culture, customs or events that are unfolding around you.
Capturing your child running ahead because they are so excited to see something is a much more special memory than having them standing next to it when they get there.
Think about how you can tell the story of your vacation rather than recording the destination.
A great example of this is always having someone in your images. Try taking a picture of a place or landscape without a person..now add in your kid or partner. Straight away the image becomes more relatable and has a story to tell.
There’s usually a family photographer and I’m guessing it’s you if you’re reading this, and I’m also guessing you don’t very often get on the other side of the camera.
I have vacation albums where it looks like I didn’t even go on the trip as there is not one photograph of me!
Let someone else hold that camera.
Not only will you get some shots including you but you will also get to see the vacation from someones else’s perspective.
It’s also okay to ask someone to take a whole family photo…but remember the storytelling. You can all be in a photo without all standing in front of a place looking at the camera.
Know what to include in your photograph… and what to exclude. The scenery might be pretty but does it add or distract from the story you are trying to tell?
If it’s your children enjoying a moment together that you want to capture then you may want to crop your image in close. If it’s all about the wild freedom the children are feeling in a place then make them small in comparison to the landscape.
Focus on what story you want your photograph to tell and try not to include too many different parts to the story in one image.
Use those photography tips you learned before your trip.
Place the subject of your story along the rule of thirds lines, use lines (roads, paths, treelines) and frames (doorways, window frames ) to really make your images draw the eye.
Play with the shutter speed to capture movement.
And don’t be afraid to experiment. One of the magic things about allowing children to enjoy a moment and you capture it means that no one gets fed up of posing if you need some extra time to get just the right shot. They may not even notice you are taking the photo!
Family Photography Ideas
Family Portrait Photography
If you are looking at getting some really nice images of the whole family then it may be worth looking up local photographers in the area you are traveling to.
Companies like flytographer can help you find a vacation photographer.
Another option is to hire a photographer by just researching “local photographers near me”..but with the destination, you are heading to on your family vacation.
I suggest this if you really want family photography poses or even more natural candid images of the whole family. It can be hard to get a natural family photo if you are relying on a tripod and timer.
Travel Photo Book
My very last tip is to PRINT all those gorgeous family vacation pictures!
It doesn’t matter how, but don’t leave your treasured vacation pics on a hard drive somewhere they are never looked at.
Find More Photography Tips On How To Take Travel Photographs:
- Best Cameras For Travel With Kids
- Travel Photography Tips For Beginners
- How To Take Photographs At The Beach
- How To Photograph Sunrise While Traveling
I hope you found these tips on travel photography for family photography helpful.