7 Simple Tips for Better Family Vacation Photos

family vacation photos

There’s nothing better than going on a budget-friendly family vacation and coming home with priceless memories that you and your family can cherish forever. But alas, memories tend to fade over time—which is why it’s important to immortalize them in a concrete and tangible way.

When you’re on vacation with your family, make sure to take as many photos as you can. Preserve every fleeting moment, for you never know when it’ll happen again.

But as much as you want to capture beautiful photos that are good enough to print in a photo book or display in your home, it’s not as easy as it sounds—especially if you aren’t a professional photographer.

To help you take nicer-looking photos of your family vacations, here’s a list of easy photography tips:

Bring the proper equipment

Taking great family travel photos (or any photos, really) requires the right equipment. You will need a lightweight but powerful camera, and perhaps a tripod or monopod for those family group shots.

If you don’t mind investing some money in your photography gear, a mirrorless camera is your best bet. It is relatively compact, lightweight, and extremely portable. Also, just like the larger and heavier DSLR camera, the mirrorless can take professional-quality photos (if you know how to use it) and offers great low-light capability for various lighting conditions.

You can also experiment with interchangeable lenses or lens filters—both of which can be purchased from popular online camera retailers like Adorama—for even better images.

Make use of the natural light

natural light family vacation photo

Natural light is the best lighting you can get—especially when it comes to travel photography. Professional photographers recommend that the best time of day to take photos is during “The Golden Hour” (shortly after sunrise or just before sunset) for the most beautiful and flattering light.

Make sure to avoid shooting under direct sunlight as it can result in overexposed photos.

If taking photos at night, you will need to shoot with a tripod and use longer shutter speeds to achieve well-lit pictures. However, if this is not possible, the next best thing is to use your flash—but do keep in mind that this can result in harsh, overexposed pictures. To avoid this, you can use a flash diffuser for softer light that is evenly distributed. If you don’t have one, you can create a DIY diffuser with rubber bands and white cardboard.

Shoot plenty of candids

candids family vacation photo

Candid shots are the best! There’s no better way to capture genuine emotions and feelings than when you take photos of your family when they’re not focused on posing for the camera. These are the lasting memories that will remind you, even after years and years have passed, of how wonderful your family adventures were.

Make sure to always have your camera ready for these priceless moments. If you’re using a camera that allows you to shoot manual, do some research on the appropriate settings to use for freezing motion. This usually involves a fast shutter speed, but there are other ways to configure your camera’s settings to enable you to capture action. Flash can also be used to freeze movement, but again, keep in mind that using it can result in harsh lighting.

Candid images tend to be tricky due to the instantaneous nature of the subject’s movements and facial expressions, so you will need to have some photography know-how in order to successfully capture them.

Avoid cliché poses

cliche family vacation photos

Family vacations are all about letting loose and having fun, and you want your photos to reflect that wonderful energy. So, as much as possible, avoid cliché poses that look too posed or forced. Instead, showcase every family member’s wacky side by letting them do whatever pose they want.

Always remember that the key to creating a compelling story through photos is to remain as authentic and unique as possible.

Play with different angles

angles family vacation photo

A great way to switch it up and inject some variety into your family vacation photos is to play around with different angles. Shooting from an unexpected camera angle can lend a whole new perspective to any photo, which leads to more creative images.

You can lie flat on your belly to take photos from ground level, or take photos from a high vantage point for a nice change of pace from the usual eye-level pictures.

Always consider your background

background family vacation photos

The background is integral to the aesthetics of the picture, but it can also help provide a sense of time and place. Don’t just take photos of your family without considering the backdrop of the photo. If you want beautiful travel photos, you have to think like a photographer and consider all other elements of the photo—not just the subject.

And besides, you want to showcase the beauty of the places you’ll be visiting, so it’s important to use them as your backdrops for all of your photo-ops.

Know when to put the camera down

While it may be tempting to document everything, don’t forget that you are also required to put the camera down and interact with the rest of the family.

You can’t make memories if you’re constantly hiding behind a camera, right?

Vacations are a great opportunity to collect meaningful memories, so make sure to document them well by taking great photos that accurately reflect the beauty of the places you’ve visited, the thrill of the adventures you’ve experienced, and the love and happiness that you felt being with the family.

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