How to Take Better Family Travel Photos
The photos you capture during your family holidays will spark years of conversations and memories and be the catalyst for hours spent reminiscing in the future, so it makes sense to take the best photos you can while you have the chance to capture your experiences forever. We carry a range of photography gear with us, including a digital SLR, waterproof point and shoot camera, a Go-Pro camera and a video camera, as well as our iPhones, but really, no matter what we’re shooting with the principles are still the same to get your photos looking their best, so here’s our tips for how to take better family travel photos:
Learn the Basics of Photography
Although rules are meant to be broken, there are some simple principles for taking better photos. There are online photography courses available that you can do while you’re travelling or before you go if you’d like to learn in depth photography skills, which will help not just for your travel photos but for all your photography. There are some basic photography concepts that will help get you started:
None of the photos I’m using below are award winning travel photos, in fact they are mostly snapshots off our phone, but I simply wanted to give you an example, and I don’t have my hard drive with our “fancy” SLR photos on hand.
Fill The Frame:
This is one of the most basic concepts of better photography; get in close and capture the real spirit of the photo. Of course if you’re taking a landscape shot, this isn’t going to apply, shoot wide in that case and take in the spirit of the landscape, but for people, get in close, capture their expression, the place, and cut out all the boring sky or backdrop that isn’t essential to tell the story. If I’d stood back to take the photo of Jackson with the crab, I’d have missed the detail; his expression as he’d almost been nipped, his dirty fingernails from hanging out on the bank of the water, building and playing and fishing, and of course the crab.
Face the Subject into the Light
You’ve all been part of a photo where you’re ushered into speckled shade or faced away from the sun. It’s never comfortable to stare into the sun, but it is important to have lighting on a person’s face if you’re trying to take a portrait. Photos in direct sunlight are always difficult to get balanced as far as lighting goes, so if you’re taking portraits, the perfect thing to do is to place the person in solid shade, not speckled shade if you can help it, but looking out to the direction of the sun or light source so that their face is lit.
Rule of Thirds:
While it might sound technical, the rule of thirds helps to produce photos that are more pleasing to look at and are well-balanced. Break the habit most amateur photographers have of wanting to put people, or objects in the centre of the photo. Many camera viewfinders have lines breaking the area up into 3, if not, imagine they are there, and place subjects on one of the dividing lines. Our eyes are drawn to those points in a photo, and it works to put people’s faces there particularly well. Here’s an example below, it’s just a basic shot that I grabbed quickly off our hard drive. Another point is when taking landscapes to break it into thirds. Don’t put the horizon in the middle, for example at the beach, make it one third sand, one third ocean and one third sky.
Notice What’s in the Background
Ever taken a photo and then noticed it looks like there’s a tree branch coming out of someone’s head? If you have time, take a little time to notice what’s in the background of your photo, it can make all the difference. Whatever you do, try to include interesting snippets in your photos, if you notice interesting signage, or something unique to the area you’re visiting, try to place it in a way that brings the memory of your holiday flooding back to you.
Ditch The Posed Pictures
Now there’s nothing wrong with posed pictures, and we take a lot of them so I’m not saying ditch the poses all together, they have their place, but try to be a little adventurous with taking some candid shots of the family enjoying their environment. Get the kids looking, playing, exploring, laughing, not just standing and saying ‘cheese’, it helps to remember the experience of your holiday.
Don’t be scared to hand the camera to the kids either, and no matter the result, you’ll be sure to have lots of memories captured forever to look back on over the years.