Capturing Memories: Tips for Taking Better Family Photos on Your Next Trip

April 21, 2023


One of the best parts of going on a trip with your family is the memories you create together. However, as a parent, it can be challenging to ensure that you’re also present in those memories. I know for me, I am often the one taking photos so that means it’s too easy for me not to be IN any of the photos. In this blog post, I’ll some tips and tricks for taking better family photos while on a trip, so you can be sure you’re in the frame too and you can capture those important memories.

Family of two parents, baby in a backpack carrier, and two dogs smiles at the camera on a hike in the snowy mountains with snow coming down and the sun setting behind them
A family tripod selfie with my Sony A7iii using the 10 second timer

How to Use Your iPhone Camera to Take Better Family Photos

The iPhone camera is an incredibly powerful tool for capturing family memories. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your iPhone camera:

Tip #1: Use the volume button to take a photo.

If you’re struggling to reach the shutter button on your iPhone screen, use the volume button instead. This can help you take photos more quickly and easily.

Tip #2: Use the Gridlines.

One of the most useful features of the iPhone camera is the gridlines. These lines divide the screen into thirds both horizontally and vertically, which can help you compose your shots more effectively. To turn on the gridlines, go to Settings > Camera and toggle on “Grid.”

Tip #3: Experiment with Different Angles.

One of the great things about the iPhone camera is that it’s small and easy to maneuver. Take advantage of this by experimenting with different angles and perspectives. Get down low to take photos from a child’s point of view, or shoot from above to capture a group shot.

Tip #4: Use Natural Light.

Good lighting is key to taking great photos, and natural light is often the most flattering. Look for areas with soft, diffused light (like shaded spots or overcast days) to avoid harsh shadows and bright highlights. Avoid using the flash whenever possible, as it can make photos look artificial.

Tip #5: Try Portrait Mode.

If you have an iPhone with dual cameras (like the iPhone X or later), try using Portrait mode to take photos with a blurred background. This can make your subject stand out more and give your photos a professional look. To use Portrait mode, simply open the Camera app and swipe to select it.

Tip #6: Edit Your Photos.

Even if you take a great photo, it can often benefit from a bit of editing. Fortunately, the iPhone’s built-in editing tools are both powerful and easy to use. You can adjust exposure, colour, and other settings right from the Photos app. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and see what looks best.

Tip #6: Use Burst Mode for Action Shots.

If you’re trying to capture a fast-moving subject (like a toddler running around), try using Burst mode. This mode takes a series of photos in quick succession, which can help you capture the perfect shot. To use Burst mode, simply press and hold the shutter button in the Camera app.

Tip #6: Bring a Tripod or a Selfie Stick.

There are tons of lightweight tripod or selfie stick options that you can purchase to help get those group family shots. Or you can even set up your phone against something and turn the video on and then run and get in the frame. I do this a lot and then screenshot out of the video for some fun photos!

Final Thoughts

With a little bit of practice and these tips and tricks, you can take great photos with your iPhone that you’ll cherish for years to come. Remember to experiment with different angles, use natural light, and edit your photos to make them look their best. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the moment!

Mom holds a toddler on a picnic table at a campsite in the morning sun
I propped my camera up against a water bottle on a picnic table and snapped a few photos to remember Aster and I’s first solo tent camping trip. Not perfect, but a perfect memory.

How to Use Your DLSR or Mirrorless Camera to Take Better Family Photos

While iPhones are great for taking photos, there’s something special about using a dedicated camera to capture memories. If you have a camera that you love, be sure to bring it on your trip. Here are a few tips for taking better family photos with your camera:

Tip #1: Bring the Right Gear.

First and foremost, make sure you bring the right gear for your trip. This will depend on your specific camera and lens setup, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Bring a versatile zoom lens. A lens with a focal length range of around 24-70mm (on a full-frame camera) or 18-55mm (on a crop-sensor camera) is a good choice for most family photos. This will give you the flexibility to capture both wide-angle shots and portraits.
  • Pack a tripod. A tripod can be useful for stabilizing your camera and taking photos in low light. Look for a lightweight and compact tripod that’s easy to carry around.
  • Don’t forget spare batteries and memory cards. Make sure you have enough batteries and memory cards to last you through your trip.

Tip #2: Shoot in Manual Mode.

While the automatic modes on your camera can be useful in some situations, shooting in manual mode will give you more control over your photos. This is especially important when dealing with challenging lighting conditions, such as bright sun or low light. Use manual mode to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the right exposure for your shot. You will want an aperture of 4 or more when shooting multiple people to make sure you can get everyone in focus. And the more people, the higher the number you’ll need.

Tip #3: Look for Interesting Compositions.

When taking family photos, it’s important to think about more than just getting everyone in the frame. Look for interesting compositions that tell a story or capture a moment. Try using the rule of thirds to create more dynamic compositions, and look for leading lines or other elements that draw the viewer’s eye.

Mom stands on a tree leaning across the river holding a baby with the bright green forest surrounding them
A favourite composition from a family trip to Tofino, BC. I love how the trees frame us.

Tip #4: Get in the Frame Yourself.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to get in the frame yourself when taking family photos. Using a tripod can make this easier, as you can set up your camera and then join your family in the shot. You can also use a remote trigger or self-timer to take photos without having to be behind the camera. Some cameras have apps that you can sync your camera to and lets you control your camera from your phone.

Tip #5: Shoot Raw Files.

If your camera allows it, consider shooting in Raw format instead of JPEG. Raw files contain more information and give you more flexibility when editing your photos later. This can be especially useful when dealing with challenging lighting conditions or when you want to make adjustments to exposure, color, or other settings.

Tip #6: Edit Your Photos.

Just like with iPhone photos, editing your DSLR or mirrorless photos can help take them to the next level. Use editing software (such as Lightroom or Photoshop) to adjust exposure, color, and other settings to make your photos look their best.

Final Thoughts

By bringing the right gear, shooting in manual mode, looking for interesting compositions, and getting in the frame yourself, you can take better family photos with your DSLR or mirrorless camera while on a trip. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and techniques, and have fun capturing memories that you and your family can look back on for years to come.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If you’re struggling to get everyone in the frame, don’t be afraid to ask a stranger for help. Most people are happy to take a quick photo for you, especially if you offer to take one for them in return. Just be sure to choose someone who seems trustworthy and reliable, and be clear about what you want in the photo.

Also *primary parent looking at YOU*, ASK you partner to take photos of you and your kids. Tell them what you want and how. Let them know how important it is for you to have photos, especially candid photos with your kids. This is something anyone can get better at, but you have to ask and make them aware of it.

Embrace the Imperfect

When it comes to family photos, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to capture the perfect moment. But sometimes, the imperfect photos are the ones that capture the true spirit of your family. So don’t worry if your photos aren’t perfectly posed or lit – those imperfections are what make them special and will likely be your favourite photos from the trip.

Below are two of my favourite photos from 2021 that are far from perfect but they both represent such precious memories. A sweaty little toddler having an unexpected morning nap and Aster covered in dirt sitting in the front seat of the truck having a snack as we unhook the trailer at a campground. Both of these photos represent how I will remember camping with her when she was young.

Why You Need To Print Your Photos

Children don’t stay young forever and they change so fast. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to capture memories with your family while you can. When your children are grown up, you’ll be able to look back on these photos and remember the special moments you shared together.

While it’s great to capture memories with your camera or phone while on a trip, it’s also important to think about how you’ll preserve those memories for the future. One way to do this is by creating a photobook or printing your photos and putting them in an album.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider creating a photobook or album:

  • Digital photos can be lost or corrupted. While it’s great to have all your photos stored on your phone or computer, there’s always a risk of losing them due to a technical issue or accidentally deleting them. By printing your photos or creating a physical album, you have a tangible backup that won’t be affected by technology issues.
  • It’s a great way to share memories with others. While it’s fun to look at photos on your phone or computer, there’s something special about being able to share a physical album or photobook with family and friends. It’s a great way to relive memories together and bond over shared experiences.
  • It’s a meaningful keepsake for your family. As your family grows and changes, it’s important to have a physical record of your memories together. A photobook or album can be passed down through generations, becoming a cherished family heirloom. I know that Aster LOVES to flip through our yearly photo albums that Reid and I have been making for years (since before she was around). She especially loves the album we have from her first year.

When it comes to creating a photobook or album, there are many options available. You can create a photobook online through services like Shutterfly or Mixbook, or you can print your photos and put them in an album yourself. I print 4×6’s of everything from the year (usually around ~500 photos) and then put them into an album I buy from Homesense for ~$40. Either way, taking the time to curate and organize your photos into a physical format can be a rewarding experience, and can help ensure that your memories will be preserved for years to come.

Bonus Tip: Set Up Your Phone and Record Video During Your Family Trip

While photos are a great way to capture memories, sometimes it’s nice to have a video recording of your family just being together. Consider setting up your phone on a tripod or stable surface and recording some video of your family spending time together. You could capture a meal, a game, or just some casual conversation. These videos can be great to look back on and remember the little moments that made your trip special.

In conclusion, taking photos as a family while on a trip is an important way to capture memories and create lasting keepsakes. Whether you’re using your phone, a DSLR, or a mirrorless camera, there are many tips and tricks you can use to take better photos and ensure that everyone in the family is included. And once you’ve captured those memories, don’t forget to consider creating a photobook or album to preserve them for the future. By taking the time to document your family’s adventures and memories, you’ll be able to look back on them for years to come and cherish those moments forever. Have the most fun together!

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