As family travel bloggers we’re always taking pictures of our trips. Still, long before we started documenting our travels and sharing on our website and Instagram we cherished family photos. People are always asking how we capture such beautiful photos on our trips so here are all our tips for taking family pictures on vacation.
How to Capture Your Family Photos on Vacations
Bring a Tripod
The number one question we’re asked is how do you get pictures of all of you together? Answer: we bring our tripod! This allows us to all be in the picture without needing help from anyone else. We’re able to set up the shot exactly how we want! To take the picture you can either use the timer on the camera or you can use a bluetooth remote or app on your phone that controls your camera shutter.
I love this option because often when we’ve asked people to take our picture it’s bad. Then I feel bad to keep asking them to retake it so I just say thank you and wait for them to walk away to ask someone else. Here are some pictures we’ve taken with our tripod!
This particular photo was taken on my solo trip to Tulum, Mexico where I took all my pictures by myself!
Don’t Think You Need Expensive Equipment
A question I get a lot is what camera I use. While I do have a “fancy” camera I use my iPhone a lot. Most smart phones have the portrait mode and it gives a really nice effect. Basically it blurs the background and focuses on the subject you want. This is one of my favorite pictures and it was taken from my phone with no fancy equipment.
Hire a Professional Photographer for Your Family Vacation Photos
If you don’t want to deal with taking your own pictures for whatever reason you can hire a professional photographer. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing work and that’s ok, you are on vacation. We’ve hired professional photographers for various reasons. In Morocco we hired one because getting around the medina is difficult so not only did our photographer know the best places to take pictures they knew how to get around without getting lost.
While visiting Costa Rica we were doing a lot of action activities: surfing and zip-lining included so hiring a professional is best. These activities are much harder to capture on your own, even with a tripod.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico I hired a photographer because it was my birthday and I just really want nice pictures of myself without much effort on my part.
So how do you find the perfect vacation photographer? For my photoshoot in San Juan, I hired my photographer on Airbnb Experiences. Here I was able to read reviews and see samples on my photographer, Rual’s, work. Sign up here and receive up to $55 off your first experience and book him here.
For our photographer in Morocco we searched hashtags on Instagram. Search #CityNamePhotographer and you’ll easily find photographers in that area. The search will lead you to their Instagram accounts and you can contact them via the website in the bio, email or DM.
Ask a Stranger But Look For Qualified People
As a last resort we ask other people to take our picture if our tripod can’t be set up where we are or we didn’t hire someone. When asking strangers first look for people who look like they may know how to take a picture. These people usually have nice cameras, are using tripods themselves, or have a lot of camera equipment with them. We lucked out in Paris and this photographer saw us trying to capture our family and without us even asking, he offered.
If you don’t see anyone around that looks like they know what they’re doing don’t worry. You can still ask a stranger you’ll just need to do a little more work. Be sure to frame the photo exactly how you want it! Set up your family exactly where you want them to stand with a space left for you. Then stand exactly where you want the person taking the picture to stand and have the camera pointing exactly where you want it. Then switch places with the friendly stranger and ask them to just snap the photo with no need to move around.
When to Take Pictures for the Best Family Vacation Photos
When it comes to taking the perfect family photos on vacation, timing is everything! If you want a picture of an iconic landmark with no one in the background I’m sorry to say you will have to wake up early. Yes, you’re on vacation but so is everyone else and they’re trying to get the same shot as you. Everyone asked how we got our photo at Escadaria Selaron while in Rio de Janeiro and at The Bean in Chicago with no one in the background, we took both at about 7AM.
If empty backgrounds at iconic landmarks aren’t important to you avoiding harsh sunlight will also give you the best photo. Taking your pictures at what photographers call “golden hour” will give everyone a beautiful glow. This picture was taken during golden hour on our trip to Marrakech.
Also remember natural light in general is the best setting for photos so get outdoors to take your pictures!
To Pose or Not to Pose When Trying to Capture Family Photos on Vacation
When trying to capture the perfect family photos on vacation variety is key. You don’t want every picture you take to be exactly the same, so change it up!
Full frame, looking straight into the camera photos are always nice and a classic but to make these really pop try laughing. I know it sounds ridiculous but I promise it prevents tired smiles and that stale look on people’s faces in pictures.
We also love action shots: running, jumping up in the air, any picture in motion usually comes out great. Action shots are also usually the best way to capture kids because they hate sitting still. So get them running around and playing and you’ll be amazed at what you capture.
You don’t always have to look directly at the camera! Take some pictures looking away, I promise they will still look great!
Take your pictures from different angles. Don’t feel like you have to standing up in a picture. One of my favorite family photos of us is where we’re laying down and the picture is taken from above.
Don’t forget about the candids, while it’s harder to get these of the whole family unless you’ve hired a photographer you can still get them of parts of your family. These end up being some of my favorite ones.
Scope Out Photo Locations (and poses) Ahead of Time
Am I giving you homework just to get nice family photos on vacation? Yes I am! I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend my entire trip taking pictures. I want to enjoy the moments too. Still there are certain places you go that you know you want a certain shot, whether you saw it on Instagram or in a magazine you want to recreate it. I remember when we went to London I wanted a picture in a red telephone booth with Big Ben in the background but with so many telephone booths how would I know the right one. You can look all of these things up online ahead of time and often find the exact coordinates or google maps link to the location, talk about a time saver. Search for best photo spots in XYZ location or get specific like my Google search: location of the red telephone booth and Big Ben in the background.
Sometimes there are places with cool optical illusions like the Pedra do Telegrafo cliff in Brazil. These places mean you want to have creative poses but coming up with them on the fly can be hard and a waste of time. So what we’ve done is look up poses online to get an idea of what we want to do. I did this for our trip to Italy when we visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It especially helps for places where you know there might be a long line to get a picture! I usually just search the places hashtag on IG and then save those images to a collection!
Where to Get Matching Outfits If That’s Your Thing
We wear matching outfits a lot! Some think it’s cheesy and some love it, we’re obviously in the latter! From swimsuits to rompers to dresses we’ve got it all. Sometimes it’s just the kids matching, sometimes it’s mommy and me and sometimes it’s the whole family. We get our mommy and me and family matching outfits from this online store. Shipping typically takes about two weeks so just be sure to order on time! These are some of our favorite matching outfits from there.
Other times we match it’s just putting similar items together or wearing the same tones that we already have. Stores like Old Navy and H&M typically have a family matching section where they show all the items they have for various age groups that while they aren’t an exact match they’r are similar. We did this for our trip to Marrakech.
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ANSWERING SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (save this post): I hope everyone’s year is off to a great start! I just wanted to answer questions we’re asked a lot. 1. How old were the girls when we first started traveling with them? Jordyn took her first flight at 6 weeks NYC to FLL. Her first international flight was at 8 months to Jamaica. Kennedy’s first flight was technically at 11 days old because we were moving from NYC to Florida & I just wasn’t about that 16hr+ drive w/a newborn. Her first real trip was to Cartagena, Colombia at 10 weeks old. 2. Do you homeschool? No we don’t, Jordyn is in kindergarten at a public school & Kennedy stays home with me for now (she’s 3). We’re ok w/Jordyn missing up to two weeks of school to travel & discussed w/her teachers at the start of the year. 3. Is such & such kid friendly? Our motto is if kids live there kids can visit, you’ll see us anywhere there isn’t an active war. Thailand & Morocco have been two of the most “kid-friendly” places we’ve been to. 4. Did you get vaccines to go ____? We’ve never got any additional vaccines besides routine ones for any of our trips. 5. What is your favorite destination? Top 5 are Brazil, Kenya, Costa Rica, our Southwest RV trip, and Morocco. Jamaica is home and always a good idea so that will technically always be my favorite. 6. How do you afford to travel so much? Sacrifice! We don’t have cable, I stopped my bi-weekly nail appointments, bring lunch to work, Kennedy wears all of Jordyn’s hand me downs minus a few new outfits/shoes. We only buy flight deals & let them dictate our destinations & use Groupons/TravelZoo for activities. Now as The Traveling Child has grown we do work with brands/destinations who sponsor some our trips but unless you see hashtag sponsored we paid for the trip in full. 7. Do you have tips for (insert destination)? On our website www.thetravelingchild.co I give all the itineraries for every trip we’ve taken. 8. What products do you use in the girls hair? CANTU (kids line), As I Am Curling Jelly & a Denman brush! Now questions for you guys! Where are you from? Do you have kids? If so, what are there ages? Anything else you’d like to know?
For mommy and me outfits I’ve even gone as far as to shop in the kids section myself to match my girls. I can usually fit into a kids XL and did exactly that when I took my daughter to Wisconsin Dells for our annual mommy and me trip. She really wanted us to wear matching pj’s and waited until the night before our trip to tell me so and Target was the only option!
Edit Your Pictures
So often people ask me what camera I use, it’s a Sony A7iii by the way, but it’s so much more than a camera. Believe it or not about 80% of the pictures on my Instagram feed were taken from my iPhone XS. It’s all about the edit of the photo afterwards. It can really turn a dark, not so great looking image to perfection! I’m not the best editor by any means but I use Lightroom Mobile to edit our photos, here is a tutorial from an expert. You can even buy presets on Etsy or from photographers which basically will edit the picture for you. Just remember depending on your skin tone, where the photo was taken (natural light, indoors), etc. will all play a role on how well a preset works. You may need to buy multiple ones to use on different images. Just look at the difference between the two photos below and you can see how much of a difference editing makes.
Hopefully these tips will have you well on your way to capturing the perfect family photos on vacation. Did you find this article helpful? If so please share it!