Of course you want to have wonderful experiences on vacation with your family, like staying at fun-filled ski resorts and planning the perfect weekend trip. However, you’ll also want to preserve the cherished memories you make on the road. For something as important as family travel, it’s smart to have some photography tactics under your belt to get shots worth printing and framing.
Before packing your camera, read the following tips for taking great family vacation photos.
It may even help to give yourself a mission of creating a photo essay. This means there should be a beginning shot introducing the place, such as the kids jumping around a Welcome To Cancun sign or walking into the hotel with their suitcases. Make sure the body of the essay is a nice mix of closeup detail shots, candids of your family members, and shots that give a sense of place like beach scenes or ski slope shots (a GoPro action camera is great for this). Close your photo essay with an ending shot depicting the trip being over, such as the family getting on the plane. You may even want to place your family in a backlit situation so they’re silhouettes, which can add a more somber tone to the picture.
Even if you don’t have a professional camera or a variety of high quality lenses you can take beautiful images by keeping composition in mind. The simplest rule when it comes to composing your shot is the Rules of Thirds, which is where you turn the scene you’re trying to capture into a grid with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines (either in your mind or by having your camera or phone actually place the lines in the viewfinder). You want to place your key points on the intersecting points of these lines, typically your subject’s eye. You’ll also want to place the horizon along one of the horizontal lines.
Another composition tip: use leading lines to bring the viewer’s eyes into the shot. For example, if your family is playing at a local park and your child is about to go down a slide, you can angle the camera up the slide to have the slide lead the viewer to your child’s smiling face.
It’s funny how often a family shot is taken from a distance. While you shouldn’t get rid of this technique completely, also try getting close to your family members as you photograph them. You can even play around with different angles. For instance, shooting your child or significant other from a low angle makes them appear bigger and more powerful. Getting close also helps you play around with detail shots. Say, for instance, your child has picked a flower. Instead of just photographing everything in the scene, get their hands holding the flower against their shirt, or their fingers outstretched touching the petals.
Having some posed shots is nice; but, you’ll also want those unplanned moments on film. For this reason, disable any shutter noise and don’t use flash, which helps you better take photos without people noticing. Moreover, shoot in continuous mode so you can get a number of shots very quickly. This is great for those times when something exciting is happening, like your children meeting Mickey at Disney World or jumping off a diving board into a pool.
Of course, you shouldn’t be the one taking the photos the entire vacation. Let your partner and kids do some of the work, and start seeing the destination through their eyes. If your kids are really small and you’re wary of handing over your nice gadgets, pick up disposable cameras to let them shoot freely.
You should also remember some tactics for taking shots with everyone in frame. One trick: set your camera on a sturdy surface or small travel tripod and either set a timer to take multiple shots, use a wireless remote, or connect an intervalometer. The latter is a remote you set to take as many photos as you want in as much time as you desire. From there, you can move about freely in front of the camera for a mix of posed and candid shots on vacation!
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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