People often ask me how I have such amazing pictures from my vacations. I don’t mind sharing my secret- I WORK for it! Does that mean I enjoy my vacation any less because I’m “working”? NO! In fact, I love taking pictures and I really enjoy the opportunity to photograph my family in new locations. And even though everyone may roll their eyes when I snap my millionth picture, I know everyone appreciates having the memories captured and looking back on our pictures long after the trip has ended.
Here are a few of my tips for memorable trip pictures:
- No Regrets: Never pass up the opportunity to take a picture. If the thought crosses your mind that you should take a picture- drop everything, and do it. I learned this lesson the hard way. After flying for hours with kids, we landed exhausted in Hawaii. As we were driving out of the airport I saw a giant sign that read “Welcome To Hawaii” and I knew I wanted our picture with it. But, that would have required a lot of work, and honestly I didn’t have the energy. I told myself we’d take the picture at the airport as we were leaving. Guess what? We didn’t! And I still regret that I didn’t just make the effort the first time (I guess we’ll just have to go back- ha!)
- Be Bold: See a good photo opportunity? Just do it! Obviously, keeping safety in mind, you may have to bend a few rules to get a great shot. My philosophy has always been ask forgiveness, not permission. On our last Disney cruise I saw a professional photographer taking pictures of a Bride and Groom on a restricted area of the beach where all of the activity boats were stored. It was, by far, the best photo location for an unobstructed shot of the boat. When the Bride and Groom were finished, I scooted our family into the restricted area and quickly began snapping pictures. A Disney cast member hurried our way and I assumed they were going to ask us to leave- but instead, they offered to take our picture!
- No shame: Similar to the previous tip, don’t let pride get in the way of your perfect picture. Chances are, if you’re on vacation, you’ll never see anyone again! I’ve done some pretty ridiculous things to get a good angle, or make my kids laugh for a picture. In the picture below I literally insisted on stopping a whole line of ATV’s to get our picture taken (my husband was so embarrassed that everyone behind us was having to wait! He wouldn’t even pull down his bandanna to smile…but I don’t care- I got the picture I wanted!)
- Safety First: Although I have just mentioned the idea of taking advantage of a picture opportunity, I want to point out that I would NEVER compromise our safety! There are plenty of ways to get a safe picture and it’s not worth it to take a risk. With that in mind, I LOVE the state signs as you cross borders. While it’s always tempting to pull over on the side of the road (and sometimes you can do so safely on back roads), I’ve found that you can safely stop at the first Rest Stop in the state and often they have the same road signs. It makes for a great, safe, memorable picture!
- Lower Your Expectations: Sometimes you’re just not going to be able to get the perfect picture. Hard as you try, it’s not happening. This is especially true when you are dealing with kids! Because I take a lot of pictures, and because I do get a lot of great shots- I occasionally decide to be okay with the imperfect ones. This is real life!
- Bribery: I am not above offering my children a very small treat (we’re taking like 1 marshmallow or a gummy bear) in exchange for a smile. I get a good picture, they get a piece of candy…it’s a win/win.
- Take A Million: I’ve never looked back on vacation pictures and thought “gosh, I took way too many pictures.” If anything, I’ve come home and wished I’d taken more. Especially when I’m trying to capture a particular moment- I take a lot. Like an obnoxious amount. But, you know what? I usually end up with at least 1 that I love!
- Tell The Story: Sometimes the best vacation pictures aren’t the ones worthy of a wall canvas. The perfectionist in me loves a perfectly posed picture, but that doesn’t always capture the moment. I try to take just as many (if not more) action shots on vacation, as I do pictures where we’re all smiling perfectly for the camera. In this picture we’d had a long, exhausting day and my son fell asleep at the table waiting on his food. I love it!
- Document Words: Whenever possible I try to capture the names of places we visit in a picture. I’ve found that it can be hard to take a fabulous picture of your family, and include a sign. But it is still worth it to me to capture words, even if it compromises the people in the picture. There are plenty of other times I capture close ups of our family. Also, it can be especially helpful if you photograph the name of a special restaurant you want to remember. It’s also a nice way to organize your vacation when you include the place name.
- Pay: As much as I love to take pictures, I do know my limits. There are certain, very special occasions when I am willing to pay for professional vacation pictures. You will fork over an arm and a leg, but it’s SO worth it! Many times you can purchase a photo package that includes a disk of all the shots. In other words, if you only take 15 pictures you’re still going to have to pay the same price as if you’d taken 50. I try to look into the photo packages ahead of time and if that is the case, I make a HUGE effort to make the photo package worth it!
What is your favorite vacation picture that you’ve ever taken?