8 Quick Tips for Taking Photos on Your Next Family Vacation

Dog in car mirror - tips for taking photos on family vacation - Nicole Guido - Fayetteville NC Photographer

Here’s my funny thought of the day: I started this blog post almost two years ago to the day. I guess we’ve just been busy taking vacations instead of writing about them – wishful thinking, ha! But really, it’s one that slipped into my drafts folder and I thought, with summer break quickly approaching, why not break it back out and actually hit that darn Publish button.

The school year is officially coming to an end (umm, what!?! How!?) and I’m betting that most of you are counting down the days until your annual beach trip or that awesome trip to the Magic Kingdom that you’ve been so anxiously, ahem, patiently, awaiting. And chances are that your camera will be in tow – as it should be, because you’re about to make some memories, friend!

So while you’re taking a quick coffee break from packing up the fam, I’m going to share 8 quick tips with you for taking photos on your next a family vacation.

The Bean - Chicago - Tips for taking photos on family vacation - Nicole Guido - Fayetteville NC Photographer

Let’s chat about choosing gear.

I really like to choose my lightest most versatile lens. Because when you’re enjoying yourself on vacation, do you really want to be switching lenses all the time… or worse, carrying around your heaviest lens while you walk 20 miles around the amusement park from dusk til dawn? My 35mm Sigma Art lens is generally always attached to my camera – and I’m serious when I say, it’s rare I switch it out. But that’s because it’s light, it’s a workhorse, and it’ll work in the most dynamic lighting situations I throw at it.

Think about investing in a crossbody camera strap.

Right before our trip to Belize, I decided to pick up a crossbody camera strap because I knew I wanted my camera attached as close to my body as possible (because travel and expensive items makes me only a tad nervous). I also didn’t want to carry around a camera bag on our day-to-day adventures because I wanted to have my camera at-hand to capture things in the moment, rather than having to dig through the bag and setup my shot. So I connected the camera to my strap, swung it across my body, and carried that plus my phone and some cash and called it good for the whole trip.

Also, a word about camera straps. I thought for awhile about investing in a pricier (professional line) strap but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I ended up finding my current strap at Walmart (of all places) and it actually has padding on the shoulder, when a lot of those expensive brands don’t. In the end, I think it comes down to personal comfort and my cheap Walmart one works great for me!

coffee - taking photo of coffee - tips for taking family photos on vacation - Nicole Guido - Fayetteville NC Family Photographer

Grab the extra batteries!

Yes, they’re rechargeable and honestly, they probably hold a charge long enough to get you through your whole trip. But I ALWAYS pack two batteries and the charger. While one is in the camera, the other one charges so that I can easily swap them out each day and stay fresh.

Other things to pack…

If you’re headed to the beach or somewhere wet, I’ve heard of some people packing extra gallon Ziplock bags. You can easily cut a hole in the bag for your lens, and put your camera body into the bag – badaboom badabing, makeshift waterproof housing. Obviously I wouldn’t be taking this in the water (unless you’re brave, and more power to you if you are). But it can help protect from sandy, sunscreen-y environments.

Speaking of protecting our lenses, try putting a UV filter on your lens. This adds an extra layer of protection, jusssst in case something goes wrong and a camera falls, the lens gets bumped, or sandy fingers make contact. Generally, the filter will break and might protect the lens from breaking in the process. Lens filters are cheaper and much easier to replace than a brand new lens. I have a filter on my lens and it never comes off.

Don’t forget the camera!

Okay, okay. That’s probably an obvious one. But my camera bag is one of the very LAST things to get put in the car because it does me no good buried between the duffles and the ice chest. Not only that, it gives me the chance to check (and double check, c’mon, you know you do too) that the camera is in the bag, along with the memory card, battery, and battery charger.

Vacation starts the moment you start packing.

Well, sorta. Let me explain. It might be nice to document the whole vacation experience, like from start to end. Snap a few photos of you packing up the suitcases (< that’s a self-portrait idea!), or strapping the kids in the car, or practice some still life photos of the trunk full of everything you could need for vacation. Basically what I’m saying is that, for a real storytelling experience, try documenting from the beginning to the end.

Play with the aperture.

I’m a details girl. In life. In photos. I admit, I like to get up close and personal. But here’s something I have to remind myself to do often: step back and take in the whole scene. Try a higher aperture to make sure everything (everyone?) is in focus. Plus, while you want to remember the small details, I guarantee that you’ll also want to remember what the scene looked like as a whole. Try a few pullbacks, you’ll thank me later.

The best camera is the one you have with you.

It’s true. Sometimes I just don’t feel like taking my big girl camera with me. In those cases, if I want to document something, I have to rely on my phone or our GoPro. And that’s okay! Because the best camera is the one you have with you! Document the moment, and then get back to having fun!

sunset lake michigan - tips for taking photos on family vacation - Nicole Guido - Fayetteville NC Photographer

Be in the moment.

This is THE most important tip that I have. I know how easy it is to want to snap photos of  e v e r y t h i n g  while you’re on vacay. You want to get that perfect shot and exposure, all while trying to have fun too. My biggest recommendation is to  b e   p r e s e n t.  While having photos of these moments is important, what’s more important is you being present with your family and building these memories. Also, don’t forget to hand that camera over to your significant other from time to time – because YOU need to be in the pics too!

While we’re talking a bit about making sure you get in the photo, don’t forget your local photographer (or a destination one, holla!). Setup a photo session and some time dedicated to snapping some family photos of you guys while you make memories together. Then you don’t have to worry about the camera and you can be 100% present! Cough, cough: I’m available for these types of sessions and would love nothing more than to help you create a visual legacy and preserve the memories of your family vacation!

Fayetteville NC Photographer - Nicole Guido
Coming to the shores of North Carolina for your next family vacation? Let’s plan a family photo session! Drop me a note with your travel dates and let’s get you on my calendar! Not headed to North Carolina but want to know about upcoming travel dates and locations? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter – click here to get on the list!