It’s only natural to want to preserve those memories forever- a simple snapshot will do just the trick. Sometimes though, capturing those moments can feel anything but simple.
Let’s face it, most of us are not professional photographers or even budding amateurs, but that doesn’t mean we should be making sacrifices. You’re going to want an album full of memories to look back on. Thankfully, we have some quick and easy tips for getting better family vacation photos without all the fuss.
As much as we hate to admit it, most of us don’t trust strangers enough to ask them to take a photo of us- if we’re not already too embarrassed. So instead, we try a self-timer, but end up realizing that there are no good surfaces to rest our camera on. If you do get a shot, it might be taken crooked, on an awkward, upward-facing angle, or cutting out important family members. Then finally, we resort to having someone sit out and take the photo. “They’ll be in the next one”. If there’s a shutterbug in the family, they usually end up being absent from every single photo. If not, there is a never-ending rotation of missing persons in family portraits. Prevent this from happening and make sure everyone is in the frame by bringing along a travel-size tripod. You can get these fairly inexpensively these days, and most of them are small and light enough to tuck neatly into a carry-on or purse. You can even invest in a little remote that controls the shutter so that you don’t need to fiddle with the self-timer.
The true value of a vacation photo is its ability to transport you back to a moment in time. So, by all means, take photos of the architecture and your dinner plate, and the flora and fauna. But it’s the people you’re with that you will want to remember most; the things you did together. Make sure you’re taking photos of your tribe as they embark on adventures. Years from now you reminisce far more fondly over the grainy midnight photo of beers over a bonfire than you will a random statue that you can’t recall the origin of. Moreover, allow those moments to remain candid. If you’re in the middle of a memory you want to remember, don’t interrupt the moment by asking for a freeze-frame. This will take everyone back out of the moment. Instead, allow the moment to be and take your photographs as an observer. Your kids rolling around and cackling in the sand, your partner staring off into the distance, mouthfuls of the most delicious ravioli you’ve ever tasted…These are the photos that will invoke emotion when looking back, which is the true test of a “good” photograph.
This certainly isn’t an option for every family on every vacation, and it won’t be able to replace all of those “in the moment” photos we mentioned unless you literally have someone follow you around from sunrise to sunset as you traipse around cobblestone streets and eat your way through a massive pizza. That being said, if you’re looking for a few, really good photos on the beach to frame on your living room wall, hiring a travel photographer is a great idea. You can do this by researching and reaching out to photographers who simply work and live in the area you’re travelling to, or you can hire from a destination photographer company such as Flytographer.
We’re not telling you to spend your entire vacation behind the lens- then you would never truly experience anything for yourself. But when you are taking a photo, take three, five, or even ten instead. Any good photographer will tell you that you should take LOTS of photos, not just one. This is because a single shot has really high stakes for everything to go perfectly according to plan. Taking a bunch at a time though, you maximize your chances of getting a shot where there isn’t at least one person with their eyes closed or not looking at the camera. It also captures movement and variation sometimes the accidental in-between photos will end up being your favourites. Sure, this will mean a little more work sorting through your shots when you return home, but you’re far more likely to find photos that you love.
Especially if you’re already going to be lugging around many suitcases, bags, and belongings for the whole crew, it can be tempting to say “I’ll just take pictures on my phone” rather than toting around a heavy DSLR. Ultimately, it comes down to the type of photos you’re expecting to come back home with. If you want to compete with travel bloggers and Pinterest, don’t skip the DSLR. But even if you’re just looking for some quality photos to make the wallpaper of your laptop or print off to build an album, do yourself a flavour and bring some sort of physical camera. Camera photos are getting better and better these days, but having a physical camera to hold on to will make getting certain shots easier- even having an inexpensive digital that you don’t mind passing off to help strangers and the kids will make a huge difference. Don’t even want to go that far? Why not go old-school and bring along a few disposable film cameras? These will give you those warm, nostalgia-inducing photos you cherish from your own childhood, they won’t cost an arm and a leg, and they are a fun activity for the whole family, which leads us to our next point…
Whether this takes the form of letting them take a supervised turn with the family camera or giving them each a disposable, teaching your kids how to shoot and letting them take vacation photos of their own is a great idea. You’ll be surprised by how good a lot of them turn out, taken from a whole new perspective. Sometimes it’s fun to see the world through our little ones’ eyes and years later you’ll feel warmth when you see the photos your kids took of you, the random stray dog they fell in love with or close-ups of a seashell they found on the beach and stuffed in their pockets.
You can buy a cheap, underwater disposable camera for a handful of changes these days. Especially if you are headed to a lake, ocean, or pool, we can’t think of anything that screams “summer vacation” more than photos of your splashing around and playing in the water. Snaps of silly goggle-clad faces underwater might just end up being your favourite photos from your holiday, and for such a small investment, it’s certainly worth a
try. Plus, having a waterproof alternative to your real electronics can be a real-life saver. This way you can leave the expensive camera in your hotel safe and enjoy the day without fretting about sand, salt, and H2O running your equipment.
Too often we allow what other people think of us to dictate our actions. We know what it is like to come home from a vacation and wish we hadn’t been too nervous to take a photo at the top of the mountain we’d just climbed- too busy worrying about the crowd of onlookers to celebrate. Don’t let fear stop you from documenting your vacation. Years from now, you won’t remember thinking that there was someone else in the restaurant, but you will remember what a lovely meal you ate with your loved ones.
Honestly, getting kids to pose for a picture is hard- especially when there is more than one of them. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t want to, who ends up crying, or who doesn’t really understand the instructions. Surely, you can bribe your children for a single photo or two- but do you really want your vacation photos to be a collection of little ducks in a row looking as though they’d rather be somewhere else. Making taking family portraits engaging and fun by spicing it up a bit. You can toss them in the air and capture the giggle, scream “Let all jump on three” and immortalize the chaos or do a couple of “silly-ones”. You want to see your kids’ personalities shine through and chances are after they get in the spirit, they will start making suggestions of their own. Changing things up a bit will lead to higher levels of cooperation and a better final result- we’d call that a win-win.
At the end of the day, if taking better vacation photos is really important to you, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to brush up on your photography skills. You could sign up for a traditional photography class but in a world where you can access nearly anything at the touch of your fingertips, you could also spend a little bit of time watching online tutorials or even reading tip-oriented posts like this one for some quick pointers. Learning to edit, make better use of lighting, shoot in manual and create visual interest will all make a world of difference.
Book by: Dec 26th 2021
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