April 19, 2018

8 Tips for photographing your family holiday

Photographing your family holiday

Heading away on a holiday is the perfect time to create some beautiful images of your time together as a family. I have put together my top tips for making the process a little easier, getting more creative with your shots so that you can tell the story in a more interesting way and also what to do with all those images that you take.

1 – Keep things simple

When you’re heading away, especially if you have young ones joining you, keeping your camera gear light and easy to access will make it so much easier to grab out your camera and take photos. I love to take my professional camera along with me just because the quality of the images and the variety of light I can shoot in is greater than if I only have my phone with me. That said, new phones do have amazing cameras in them these days so if that’s what you’re taking, the rest of these tips will help you tell the story of your trip no matter what camera you have.

I take my Canon 5D Mark 3 camera and one lens, usually my 35mm Sigma lens. This is a great storytelling lens and allows me to be nice and close to the action and shoot easily in tight spaces. I use my mobile phone, an iPhone 8, to create videos of my holidays and I also often edit these videos on my phone. My phone can capture high quality 4K video and I find it’s much faster and easier to film with when I’m running around after the kids and in really tight spaces.

I bring along some spare batteries, memory cards and a self timer remote. I also like to take my laptop so at night I can upload and cull my images and videos and do some simple edits so I don’t have much to do when I get home.

If you have a ton of gear with you and it’s cumbersome and heavy to carry around and get out of your bag, you won’t feel inspired to get it out regularly so keep things simple and as light as possible.

2 – Shoot with a purpose – have in mind what will you do with your photos

Before I head away on a trip, I always have in mind how I want to document our holiday and what I want to create at the end of it. Depending on the length and the kind of holiday, I might create a stand alone photo book of the images if it’s a big family trip or include the images in a yearly family photo book if it’s a shorter holiday.

Knowing what I’ll do with the images I take helps me to be more thoughtful about what I capture and it saves me time as well as I’m shooting with an end goal in mind so I don’t end up with thousands of images that never see the light of day.

My girls love going through our family photo books. Nothing better than being able to relive past adventures together. When I am creating personal albums I use Blurb books.

Tips for photographing your family holiday by Bec Zacher

3 – Find a bag you love

Having a great bag to carry your camera in makes it so much easier to take your camera out at a moments notice and capture what’s happening in front of you.

I’ve searched for ages for the right kind of bag and have come across two that I love and use all the time! My go to bag is the Two Sues bag from Kelly Moore as it can easily carry my camera and all the rest of the bits and pieces I need as well as things for the kids.

The second bag I love the Abby Bag from Jo Totes that is a little smaller but still does the job really well. If you have a smaller camera, such as a mirrorless camera, this bag would be perfect for that also. If you’re after a camera strap, I’m currently using a strap from Sunday Isle that I love! They are leather and fabric straps with unique embroidery from locals in Guatemala.

This is my top pick – The Kelly Moore Two Sues Bag.

Bec Zacher Photography camera bags I love

4 – Start documenting from home & tell the whole story

Your trip doesn’t just start when you touchdown or reach your holiday destination. Often there is a ton of planning and if you have little ones heading along with you, maybe the whole packing stage is a bit crazy too.

Documenting the little things from the get go helps tell the whole story of your adventure and these memories are always great to look back on. Don’t shy away from capturing what really happens when you travel with kids. The mess, the tantrums and the days that just don’t go to plan. It’s all part of the adventure so don’t leave that real stuff out in search of the ‘perfect’ shot. These moments are often the funniest to look back on when you are back home again and knee deep in everyday life.

I was attempting to pack for a recent trip we all went on to Melbourne but my girl insisted on dressing up in my clothes and jumping on the bags. All part of the story 😉

Super early airport hangs and my little ones anticipation about going on a plane for the first time. If you’re in a dark confined space, getting near a window and using the window light to light up your subject is a great way to shoot and still make great images in challenging spaces.

5 – Make sure you get in the frame

I recently looked back on a holiday I went on to Yamba with my family and during the whole week I had taken heaps of amazing photos but I realised that I was actually only in two of them! I just didn’t think much about getting in the frame more often and giving my husband the camera so he could document me with the kids a little more, but I definitely do now.

I think that existing in your images, especially with your children is so so important. Even if you don’t feel the best about yourself or the way that you look, your children love you just as you are and existing in their memories and the time you share together is such a beautiful thing.

A few tips that I’ve found helpful have been, getting a self-timer app on my phone or using the built in timer in the newer model phone cameras.

Getting a little stand / tripod that you can use to set your camera up on and jump in the photo.

Giving your camera to your partner or your kids and getting them to take more photos of you and lastly, if you have a camera that has the capabilities to be used with a remote, they are an amazing investment. I use my remote all the time and it was very affordable and is super small and easy to travel with.

These images are both taken with the self-timer function on my camera. In the first image, my camera is sitting on a near by table and in the second image my camera is balancing on the rocks.

Tips for photographing your family holiday by Bec Zacher

6 – Experiment and get creative with your photos

There’s no better time to get creative than when you’re on a holiday where you usually have more time to slow down and take in what’s happening around you. Years ago I went on a ten day road trip around New Zealand where I had no phone or any other technical distractions and only my camera in hand. It was during that time that I totally fell in love with photography and what was possible by slowing down and really experimenting with composition and light.

When you’re taking a photo always look for new ways to compose the photo. This can simply be, getting down low so you’re on the same plane as your subjects who are sitting down, getting high above and shooting down onto them, and experimenting with the light and how your image changes depending on the direction the light is falling onto your subject.

Shooting very early in the morning or late in the afternoon with the sun behind your subject will give you beautiful backlight that can create some amazing images. If you’re shooting in the middle of the day, look for some shaded areas or move around your subject so that they don’t have harsh shadows falling on their faces.

Shooting from above is one of my favourite angles and can make for some really cool compositions.

Tips for photographing your family holiday by Bec Zacher

This is a great example of using backlight in a variety of ways. In the first image I’m down low and have hidden the sun just out of view to the right so there is beautiful rim light on my daughters hair. In the second image I’ve moved down even lower and have let the sun into the frame a little more. This was about 5pm in the afternoon when the sun was setting.

This is another example that shows how moving around and changing your perspective can create a totally different image. The first image I have taken from above where I was standing as this was my natural perspective. In the second image I have bent down much lower so that I’m on the same level and this has allowed beautiful sun flare into the shot and also created a stronger composition. The second image is the one that I kept.

Tips for photographing your family holiday

7 – Less is more, curate and delete!

I’ve realised that having thousands of images pile up is stressful and slowly over the years it becomes really overwhelming knowing where to start with them and how to organise them. With that in mind, I now make sure that I always go through my images after a trip away and delete a whole bunch of them that might be missed shots, double ups or very similar to other shots. If I have in mind that the images I keep are going to go into a photo book, I’m far more mindful about curating a strong group of images that tell the story from start to finish.

Going through all your images regularly and deleting them is also really helpful when it comes time to creating something with them in the future, like a yearly album. Organise your images into dated folders and make sure you keep a backup, or two, on a hard drive and cloud storage so that if anything ever happens you know your images are safe.

8 – Make something tangible

I love creating tangible products with my images so that they’re not just left to sit in the abyss of thousands of images on my phone or hard drive, but are able to be easily looked at and enjoyed.

As I mentioned in step two, I always keep in mind what I want to create with the images that I take and this really helps me not take too many but just enough to tell the entire story in a concise way.

I have created a free resource that dives much deeper into the types of tangible products I create and how I organise and preserve my own family’s story. You can head over here and download yourself a free copy of my eBook, The Story Keeper.

Bec Zacher Photography

I hope that you found some of those tips helpful! If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you and help you out in any way I can. Jump on my EMAIL LIST so you can stay up to date with new resources and tips and you can find me hanging out on INSTAGRAM each day so come say hi.

Just a note that a handful of these links are affiliate links but I use and recommend everything in here and have used the products prior to becoming an affiliate.