You’ve planned, organized, packed, sweated, and agonized over creating the best possible vacation for your family. Now that its here and you are going, how are you going to remember it? Photos of course. Here are 8 tips to help you get the best vacation photos ever:
1. Wait for the good light.
As I look through the hundreds of photos I’ve taken over the last few months, my favorites are always the ones during golden hour. In fact, I often plan our outings after or during dinner (bring a picnic!) to make sure we get good lighting. Beautiful back-lighting, gorgeous scenery, and cute kids. Always turn your subject away from the sun so they are not squinting.
2. Let your kids just be kids.
The last thing you want when you get home is a folder full of your kids with cheesy smiles in front of various national landmarks. I don’t know about you, but my kids don’t smile all the time (or look at the camera) and it would be an unnatural reflection of whatever vacation we were on. Capture your kids pensive, silly, enjoying the moment or even the tantrum your 2 year old throws when she is exhausted.
3. Take photos of the details.
Thinking like a wedding photographer, I LOVE details. Signs, small hands holding a flower, the little things that happen. Too often I’m shooting with my wide angle lens capturing the entire scene and then all of my photos look the same. Mix it up. Shoot wide and then narrow in. I’m always amazed at how differently a scene can look depending on which part you focus on.
4. Have your camera handy.
Nothing is worse than missing THAT moment because you are digging through your purse looking for the camera. Use a sling bag, a Capture Pro, or something similar so that your camera is accessible but not in the way.
5. Get on the other side of the camera.
I’m probably the WORST at this. No one can take photos as good as I can, so therefore I have to keep the camera the whole time. Right? Wrong. Poor kids are going to think they never had a mother. Hand the camera off – even if it won’t be an award winning photo (but really, you never know) at least you’ll be in it.
On the other side, it also helps to have a husband who takes awesome photos with his camera phone.
6. Don’t forget the extra batteries!
Or the battery charger. Or your memory cards. Totally guilty of that. Nothing spoils the moment by stressing about running out of battery or not being able to use your camera at all.
7. Try a Different Perspective.
Sometimes I’ll look around online and see the same photos of famous places. How can you take that photo differently? Get down low, hold your camera up over your head, try off to one side. Experiment around until you find a unique perspective. Make the photos YOURS, not just a copy of someone else’s.
7.5 Direct but Don’t Pose.
I find there is a distinct difference. The photo below didn’t just happen. One of my kids was sitting there and I thought it looked like a sweet shot, so I asked everyone else to go sit down too. Then I said “just look at each other” or maybe it was “everyone look at each other” or “look at the Washington Monument”. I can’t remember exactly. I let them be themselves but in a place that made sense for my photo. My kids have gotten SO good at “everyone look at each other and laugh” that it makes ME laugh every time now too.
8. Be flexible and just let moments happen.
Some of our BEST photo opportunities have happened when we least expected or when we deviated from “the plan”. Whether it is taken a few extra minutes to pull of the side of the road because the sunset is just amazing, hiking just another half mile, or letting your kids make and then jump in a pile of leaves in Independence Square, those photos can end up being your favorites because they weren’t planned. Along the same line is to just let things happen. Don’t be in a rush, let the moment play out. Be Patient. Good photos come to those that wait.
There you have it! All my secrets. 🙂 What advice or tips do you have for me?