19 Tips on How to Take Better Family Vacation Pictures

Taking lots of photos during a family trip is one thing, but taking memorable snapshots is another challenge. Not all of us are trained photographers or certified lion tamers, but sometimes it feels like that’s what it takes to take better family vacation pictures!

Of course, what you really need are the 3 Ps: some patience, a little practice and lots of preparation. Lucky for you, we’ve got 19 of the most helpful tips to help you get the best pictures for the family photo books of your dreams.

1. Move at Least 5 Feet Away

Want the proper ratio of landmark + kids? Get some distance by moving at least 5 feet away from the structure so it’s properly captured in the photo.

2. Keep Your Fam in Focus

Yes, you’re going to be traveling to some crazy beautiful destinations. But who are you really going for? Your family, of course! Remember to keep your family as the subject of the photo. Whether it’s your little ones enjoying a gorgeous vista or them horsing around on cobblestone streets, always make them the star of the show.

3. Go Crazy with Composition

Not all vacation pictures have to be posed, artificial affairs. Shoot your kids in silhouette. Mess around with shutter speed to capture your kids’ blur. Capture bokeh of nighttime city lights. The world is your oyster.

4. Own Your Role as Photographer

It’s normal to feel self-conscious around other families when you’re trying to capture the perfect moment. But this is a once-in-a-life opportunity, so own your role as official vacation photographer! Get in those weird angles, lean low to the ground, climb up a chair to get the perfect group shot – whatever it takes!

5. Let Loose and Have Fun

Nothing encourages a smiling, relaxed kid than a parent that’s also having fun. Because when you’re feeling tense, your subjects will, too. Make sure your photo shoots are enjoyable events.

6. Catch the Quiet Moments

The best snapshots you can take are candid – those moments where your partner and or kids are lost in thought, immersed in the moment. So even if the moment is just a silent car ride or waiting in line for the funicular, take a picture.

7. Avoid Background Distractions

The best way to get a clean, confident composition is to avoid background clutter. Is a tree branch, errant sightseer or trashcan blocking your beautiful mountain photo? Find another angle or move it out of the way.

8. Rule of Thirds

It’s one of the most followed rules in photography: rather than putting the subject dead center, imagine that your frame is divided into thirds, and line up the subject with one of those imaginary lines.

9. Action Shots

Make sure to get cool ‘action shots’ of your kids on the move. If you want that frozen-in-time shot of your kid running on the beach or jumping into a puddle, just set your shutter speed to 1/200th of a second or faster.

10. Get the Right Tools

We highly, highly recommend that you pack light on any vacation. But that just means picking the right all-in-one equipment that’ll work for your needs. A good zoom lens means you can take everything from wide angle landscape shots, to close-up portraits. However, a small, but high-quality wide-angle prime lens will give you some out-of-this world pictures.

And remember to bring at least 3 memory cards (those videos will take up a lot of space) and at least 2 batteries. A waterproof camera coat will also save your precious camera on rainy days. To hold all these goodies, invest in a high-quality camera bag that can hold snacks, wallets, what have you.

11. Tell a Narrative

Don’t just focus on picture composition – your entire photo book should tell a narrative. When you’re telling the story of your vacation, try to give the viewer a sense of what it’s like to actually be there. Get detail shots of the architecture, the food, the streets, and the people. Is the vacation spot crowded, or bare? Is it warm, windy, or humid? Just make sure your photos tell a story when they’re featured together.

12. Fill the Frame

Want to avoid hundreds of photos of your kid looking small against a random street? A great tip is to fill the frame with your subjects, giving your photo’s subject a clearer focus.

13. Don’t Forget Aperture or Shutter Priority Mode

Shooting a DSLR in manual is an acquired skill. But, if you want to make it a little easy, you can put your camera on aperture mode make sure you’re capturing the same depth of field each time, or shutter priority mode to get those awesome action shots each time.

14. Close the Aperture More

No matter what you do, your kid will move. Fortunately, you can make sure your kids are always in focus by closing your aperture more. This will deepen the depth of field and make it less likely that your fidgety kid will move out of focus.

15. Involve Your Entire Family

Get your entire family in on the fun. Take suggestions about different poses, different shots, and even give your children the camera every once in a while, (with supervision, of course) to capture their perspective.

16. Bribe Them

Sometimes, a little bribe for your little ones go a long way. So, a promise of a sugary treat or a fun excursion may be enough to get fickle kids to cooperate with a particularly tricky shot.

17. Cut off Point

It’s a dead giveaway of an inexperienced photographer when there’s a picture of a person, and either their feet or hands are randomly cropped out of the frame. Make sure your subjects’ bodies are framed properly, so focus on taking full-body, medium closeups, or closeups.

18. It’s Okay to Have a Favorite

No one wants to look at a photo book with 30 shots of the same flower. So, it’s absolutely essential that you cut down your camera roll to only the best shots. We mean it—be brutal. When you get home, you’ll likely have an option in your photo editing service to add a star or ‘favorite’ the best pictures in the batch. Afterwards, delete anything that hasn’t been favorited.

19. Perspective

One of the cooler things you can do is capture the same spot but at different points in time, like during sunrise and sunset. And when you put them side by side in your photo book? Amazing.

Hopefully, these photography tips will help you capture the most insta-worthy, memorable vacation pictures ever. But, you can make your job as photographer so much easier with a Doona Car Seat and Stroller, or maybe a Liki Trike that lets both you and your kid take the wheel.

Good luck, I’m sure they’re going to look amazing!