Emma Godfrey

Top tips for great family vacation photos | Family photography ideas

The summer is a great time for updating your family photos. School’s out and day trips or vacations can be just the thing for getting great family shots without the groans. If you don’t want to hire a professional photographer at your vacation destination or want to practice your camera skills then here are some top tips for great family vacation photos.

What shooting mode to use

Your kids are probably a constantly moving object. The best way to make sure they are in focus is to choose a sports or action mode, or shutter priority. If you prefer to shoot manual, try to keep your shutter fast to avoid unwanted motion blur. But be creative too. If they never stop, try a slow shutter in low light and capture that fabulous essence of childhood.

Shoot at sunrise and sunset

No matter where you go in the summer the light is likely to be strong. Try shooting early in the morning or a couple of hours before sunset. At these times the light is softer and you won’t get dark shadows or squinting eyes. If the weather is cloudy then this is the perfect light for easy shots. Take a bit of time to watch your kids and see when the light looks best. Going down to the beach or by a lake or river can also give pretty light at these times of the day.

Focus on the subject

When we’re on holiday it can be tempting to focus on the things that are new: landmarks, views etc. But don’t forget to focus in on your subject. Cropping close and just giving a hint of the place will give you more timeless images that you’ll want on your walls. Get kids to co-operate by teaching them how to use your camera and let them have a say in where to take the shot. If they are too young, then make it into a game. The beauty of digital is that you can take as many shots as you like so chasing a toddler around is much easier.

Look for the details

What does life look like on holiday? There will be little things that become your home away from home. Being observant and taking some time to really look at the place will help you see how your family adapts to their new environment. Where is their favourite place? Or the only thing they will eat for the week? Photograph all the shells they collect and you can leave them on the beach. The little details of place that catch your eye can also look great in a family album. They often bring back strong memories of a place.

Seek out unusual angles

Have fun with your family vacation photos. Look for weird and wacky angles. This can be great for getting kids involved with the pictures. You’ll be amazed at the way they see the world. Get down low, up high, go crooked. Look for things to shoot through or objects to place in the foreground. Get creative.

Tell your story

Think about the story you will want to tell when you get home and capture the action. If you go hiking, get some walking shots by going on ahead and asking everyone to walk towards you. Grab a cheap waterproof phone case and have hours of fun in the swimming pool. Spend less time detailing every little thing to grandparents by giving them the chance to experience it with you. I know its so much easier to explain how we go diving when I have a few pictures to hand. These are also the moments your family will be at their most natural. When they are in the middle of doing something and having fun. If you never have pictures of siblings together but they spend hours building a sand castle, catch them unaware and have those moments to treasure.

Don’t hide behind the camera

Do you ever get home and realise there isn’t a single shot of you in your vacation photos? Me too! Try not to hide behind the camera. Let your kids take some shots of you or set a self-timer. You don’t need a tripod, just a backpack or a rock and a clear route to run into the shot. These always bring back memories for me of family holidays where one of us didn’t quite make it in time. Brilliant comic moments.

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