How to Take Good Family Vacation Photos

You’ve saved and planned for your family vacation for months, and now you’re ready to go enjoy it. This is the time to make sure you are prepared to capture those special memories so you can cherish them forever. While you want to leave plenty of room for spontaneous moments, it’s a good idea to plan ahead what kinds of pictures you’ll want to take so you can flip through a photo album and smile at all that you did on your vacation.

Here are some tips to help you document your family vacation in the best way possible.

Less is more

When it comes to deciding what camera gear to bring along on a trip, sometimes less is more. A nice DSLR camera and a variety of lenses are great, but when you’re out on vacation it’s nice to travel light in the gear department.

I like to choose one “walk around” lens that works best for most situations. A zoom lens is great so you can photograph monuments or sites from different focal lengths. But the main things you’ll want to be sure to pack are extra batteries and memory cards. There’s nothing worse than a “card full” error message right as you’re capturing a great moment.

And if you forgot your camera at home, or don’t own a zoom lens, don’t forget your cell phone can work, too. Sometimes the best camera is the one you have on you, so don’t be discouraged if your phone is all you have. Just make sure you free up some space before your trip if you’re getting close to running out of storage. And don’t forget to get your photos off your phone (or camera) when you get home. Make an album online, or print them for a photobook.

Jennifer's daughter I made a Cars dress for my daughter, so we knew we wanted to get a cute photo of her in it somewhere in Carsland. These cozy cones turned out to be the perfect spot.

Set some shot goals

If you’re exploring a new place, you’re going to have a lot on your mind. Jotting down a list of pictures you’d like to take can save time and headache later. Whether you want traditional pictures, a big group photo, candid shots or a mix of all three, setting your photography goals ahead of time will ensure you document the memories you want, while still being able to enjoy being in the moment with your family.

Tell a story

It’s easy to default photographing the expected, such as your kids posed in front of a landmark. But it’s important to remember to capture the emotion behind your vacation, as well. Is this your first time at the beach? Be ready to snap a picture of your child’s expression when their feet hit the sand, or witnessing a wave for the first time. Visiting family? Joyful reunions can be fun to document.

A great way to tell a story through photographs is by taking several pictures of the same thing from different angles or perspectives. For example, at the beach you could take a wide shot of your kids playing in the water…

Kids playing in the water

 ..a medium shot of them making sand castles…..

Kids playing on the beach

…and a close up of their seashell collection.

Seashell collection

These pictures go great side by side in a photo book.

Remember to get in the picture

I’m guilty of being the person in charge of the photos and forgetting to get in some pictures myself. It’s important to remember Mom or Dad were there, too. Don’t be afraid to pass your camera off to someone else so you can get in the frame. For more off the beaten path locations, you can use a portable tripod, or prop your camera up on something and use a remote or timer. And when you’ve exhausted all your options, you can always take a group selfie. Use a selfie stick to get more of your group and background in the shot!

Jennifer and her daughter Washington D.C. with my daughter. I used a wide-angle lens so I could be sure to capture more of the magnitude of the monuments in D.C. I asked another tourist if she could snap a picture of the two of us together, and I took a photo for her as well.

Using these tips listed above, you’ll be able to document your vacation and capture memories that will last forever. Once you’ve taken all the photos, you’ll want to cherish your hard work. You can make a postcard album or another kind of souvenir, such as this one recommended by my fellow Chief Travel Guide, Crissy Page. Make sure you get those photos off your camera and into a memory book so you and your family can enjoy reliving the vacation for years to come.

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About the Author

Jennifer Borget

Jennifer Borget is a domestically-challenged part-time journalist, and a full-time mom. She’s a photographer and storyteller challenging families to cherish and make the most of every day on at Cherish365.  To catch more of her motherhood journey, follow @JenniferBorget on Instagram and join her #Cherish365 community on Facebook.