Family vacations bring so many beautiful moments that we want to remember – and yet sadly so often we forget to capture those moments through photographs! Or if we do take photos, more often than not, it’s more of an afterthought as we reach for our phones and take a few quick snapshots in the midst of an important moment.
If you’re one of those ‘snapshot-takers’ who only uses an iPhone for photos, don’t worry – this doesn’t have to be super complicated. So dust off that ‘fancy camera’ and plan to capture some beautiful images on your next vacation. Not sure what to capture? We’ve broken it down into 5 categories to make this a simple process for you.
1 – THE JOURNEY
Don’t wait until you arrive at your destination! Although the traveling portion isn’t necessarily the most ‘glamorous’ part of a trip, it is still a part of the overall experience. Be sure to capture some of the anticipation and excitement that leads up to the arrival at your location. For my family’s latest camping trip, I was intentional about snapping a couple of photos on our road trip to show the journey, and where we were headed. Sure, they aren’t the most amazing photos, but they do give a unique view into our little family adventure – and that’s what it’s all about.
2 – SET THE SCENE
I like to approach my vacation photography as if I am telling a story – so the first step is to set the scene through photographs. Once we’ve arrived at our location, my goal is to capture one photo of signage that tells where we are, and then just 2 or 3 images that show the scenery of what’s around us.
This doesn’t need to be something that takes a lot of time; just try to think of setting the scene whenever you are out and about. For our camping trip, I shot a quick photo of the trail sign while we were out on a hike, and then I also grabbed some scenery shots and details of the forest, trees, and the lake. These scenic images help introduce your location and give a visual description of what is around you.
3 – THE BIG MOMENTS
There are always a few ‘big’ things on every family vacation – those things that we know we don’t want to forget – so don’t just grab your phone as an afterthought while they are happening! Plan ahead and be intentional about capturing these moments with your fancy camera.
Before a family trip, I make a mental list of the ‘big moments’ that I anticipate will happen: an epic hike, my baby’s first time putting her toes in the sand, or seeing a beautiful waterfall. One of my favorite vacation memories was watching my husband teach our son how to fish for the first time. A quiet lake at dusk, the sounds of water lapping at the shoreline, and my son’s eyes watching in awe and soaking up everything his daddy showed him; these moments are priceless, and I am so thankful that I planned to bring my camera and capture these memories for our family.
4 – EVERYDAY MOMENTS
After you know you have grabbed a couple images from those ‘big’ occasions that you want to remember, now you can focus on getting some of the more ‘everyday’ moments on your trip. These are all the little things that may seem mundane at the time, but altogether really show the heartbeat of your trip.
These photos don’t have to be portraits of your kids posed and smiling, either! Those portraits are great too, but this is more about capturing real moments that are unposed and unrehearsed. My son walking hand-in-hand with his dad, riding his bike down the path, looking out at the lake, or discovering a huge leaf – these things seem insignificant, but I love looking back at these images and remembering those sweet moments we had together as a family.
5 – GET IN THE FRAME
Almost always in a family, you will find one parent who steps into the role of ‘family photojournalist.’ The camera is constantly around your neck or within arm’s reach, and you love capturing moments for your family – which is all well and good – except that you aren’t ever in any of the shots!
After putting together yet another photo book where, once again, I wasn’t in any of the pages, I finally realized how important it is for my kids to look back and see their mom in their family memories. So now, on every vacation, I always hand the camera over to my non-photographer husband, and ask him to snap a few photos with me in the mix.
If you are the one always taking the shots, make sure you are intentional on your next trip, and hand that camera off. You may not feel like it in the moment, but I guarantee that in the future, you (and your kids) will be so thankful that you were documented in these moments.
SAVOR THE MOMENTS
As parents, we have such an incredible opportunity to capture meaningful images that our family will treasure – especially on family trips and memorable vacations. However – while capturing your vacation is very important, it’s also necessary to remind ourselves to slow down and truly enjoy these moments.
Once you have captured some images, and feel like you’ve told a story with these 5 must-capture moments, then it’s time to put your camera down! Get out from behind your lens, and just be with the ones you love most. Soak up this time with your family, laugh, play, explore, and be present in the moments together.
We all know the saying; ‘childhood is fleeting’ – but when you have kids of your own, you start to understand just how true this is. I would hate to look back in five years and regret not capturing these memories and moments of my kids – and not just on vacation, but all of the little things that make up our everyday lives.
This year, I’m committing to taking more images of my kids… but not just ‘more’ for the sake of having MORE. If you’re like most moms out there, you probably already have a million photos on your phone right now, and you’re thinking ‘I definitely don’t need MORE.’
So how about this – let’s commit to not just taking more random/crappy snapshots that will sit forever in the abyss of our phone’s storage.
Want to join me? My free 2017 Photo Challenge will send you ideas on what photos to take of your kids, in the form of a video tutorial, once a month. Let’s put down our phones, grab our ‘fancy cameras,’ and start capturing more intentional, beautiful, compelling images of our kids.