The Great (And Elusive) Family Vacation Photo

Learn how to capture your memorable vacation moments with these helpful (and simple) family photo tips. Photo Credit: Lydia Hudgens

Everyone knows that the entire purpose of a family vacation is to get a really spectacular photo of yourself, your partner, and your children: an image in which everyone is looking directly at the camera, smiling beautifully, and perfectly posed before an epic landscape. Achieving this feat is crucial, because then you can post the photo on Facebook and make that girl who was super mean to you in high school but is now – inexplicably – your Facebook friend all bitter about your adorable family and fabulous vacation and general perfection.

Oh fiiiiiine, you should probably have fun, too. But getting that one really awesome, full-family photo is still a nice memento of a special trip – and it’s totally possible to make it happen.

How To Get A Great Family Vacation Shot


Stay Comfortable

Please, please do not try to pour your about-to-be-photographed children into the frilly, starchy outfits that your mom sent you because she forgot that what children hate more than anything in the world is anything frilly and starchy. Just let your kids wear what they’re comfortable in. They’ll be about ten thousand times more likely to actually smile for the camera when they’re not yelling at you for having forced them to take off their beloved “soft pants.”

Ask For Help, And Use Your Simplest Photographic Device

You already know you’re going to have to beg some random passerby to moonlight as your official family photographer…so give the guy a break. Don’t hand over an insanely complicated DSLR camera that requires an engineering degree in order to operate – give him your iPhone. Everybody knows how to use an iPhone, and so what will happen is you will get a photograph of your actual bodies and heads, as opposed to a shot of a blurry pair of feet, or perhaps the inside of a lens cap.

Get Golden

The “Golden Hour” refers to that moment when the sun is just over the horizon and casts a soft, reddish light. This effect enhances landscape colors, diffuses the light hitting the face, and makes everything it hits seem to glow. It is actual magic, and will make even an epic meltdown look somehow angelic.

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Be Real (And Realistic)

A photograph involving multiple children in which everyone pictured is looking at the camera and smiling with both eyes open, and not flailing/screaming/looking in the opposite direction/making a weird face is possible. So is discovering that you have a previously-unheard-of uncle who just willed you ten million dollars.

Far more likely is a photograph of…well, of your family. Your daughter may be smiling in that goofy way she has; your son may be trying to hide behind a tree; you and your partner may look happy and tired and a little exasperated, but also like you really love your kids, because you do. In short: you will look like yourselves. And that – not some overly posed shot – is what makes for a great family photo.

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One Last Thing: Whatever you do, remember that documenting a family vacation may help you remember what you did on your trip, but every moment you spend with your face planted behind a lens is a moment that you’re not participating in. So don’t forget to put the camera down every once in awhile and actually be there with the people you love. The memories that go unrecorded may only exist in your mind, but they’re that much more beautiful for having really lived them.

About the Author

Jordan Reid

Jordan Reid grew up in New York City, studied cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University, and worked as an actress for over a decade before turning her focus to fashion, beauty, entertaining, home decor, and DlY creating the popular lifestyle website Ramshackle Glam. A mom of two, Jordan is the author of two parenting and style books, Ramshackle Glam (2014) and Carrying On (2015); her third book will be released by Random House in 2017.