7 Tips For The Perfect Family Travel Photo For Your Holiday Cards


I know it might seem crazy that I’m writing about Holiday Cards in July. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that my best holiday cards were always when I used photos from our vacations and travels. But it isn’t always easy to get a great photo of the entire family. Over the years I’ve had many successes (along with many failures) so I’ve decided to share my best tips for the best family photo while traveling.

I also recently found out that Expedia.com is doing a huge giveaway (where one winner will be able to plan the vacation of their dreams up to a $50,000 value) which reminded me about our Holiday Card for this year. If you’d like to enter yourself, just click here. It also motivated me to write this blog post about snapping the best family photos while traveling. The following 7 tips are things that I try to ALWAYS do whenever taking or planning for a family photo:

1. Don’t pose people.

Forget about asking your kiddos to smile or stand in a certain way. The best facial expressions come from being comfortable and natural, so watch what they naturally do and work with that.

If your subject turns away from the camera, go with it. Try photographing him or her in profile.


2. Plan your shot.

When you look through the lens, think of it as an empty canvas. What goes on that canvas is your decision. You choose what’s in the background and what you want to frame.

Ask yourself: Is that what you really want to see in the photograph? Could something be moved, added or subtracted? What does it look like if you turn the camera? Try taking landscape and portrait shots to see.

Here’s some other more specific tips about planning your shot:

  • Never cut off hands at the wrist. Hands and eyes are typically the most important things in a photo.

  • Make sure they are well fed and hydrated. This may seem obvious, but your children are far more likely to cooperate and smile when they are fed. If I know I’m going to try and take a family photo on a certain day, I always make sure to have extra snacks and possibly even a yummy treat to enjoy after the shoot is over. Bribing is not part of our regular parenting mantra, but on rare occasions, the promise of something sweet never hurts ;)


3. Eliminate distractions.

If possible, leave the toys, bikes, scooters, etc behind, just for a little while. Trying to get those items out of their hands for the shot can be challenging and sometimes lead to a total meltdown. So try to sneak away from any distracting items to get the shot you want.


4. Go outside.

This is probably the most important tip I can give. Natural light is the best light. Ideally, you can be outside on a nice day but in a shady spot. That type of scenario will create the best possible scenario for an amatuer photographer to take a professional photo. Cloudy days can always be perfect for this. If shade isn’t available, at least make sure the sunlight is facing you and not at your back.


5. Hold the camera or phone steady.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to treat your iphone camera like its a professional camera. It may sound silly, but if you imagine that you’re holding a very powerful and expensive camera, all of the sudden, you begin to take more care in the shot you’re about to take. The truth is, a new iPhone camera can take INCREDIBLE photos if you treat it as such. Other great tools to get a steady shot are a gorilla pod or a table tripod to keep your camera still.


6. Get an assistant.

Asking a stranger to snap a photo can be a total gamble. But sometimes you don’t have a tripod on hand and you really need to get the shot. Whenever I’m in that situation, I try to look around for someone who has a really nice camera themselves. This person is typically either a professional photographer or an amateur that really takes care in taking photos. I also tend to look for younger people as they tend to naturally have a better eye for photography (thanks instagram).

7. Keep your subjects occupied.

Involving your children in the process can really help to ensure they cooperate. Making them feel like their helping by asking them to bring a prop, help find a location, or tie their siblings’ shoe. The point is to make them feel like they are part of the team and that they are contributing to the overall goal. Then, once you’re actually shooting, you can continue the process by asking them to do something specific for the photo such as lean against the wall or cuddle up in their favorite jacket. Distracting them with a “task” also helps to ensure a more candid photo.

Vincent Di NinoComment