Capturing memorable moments in time has never been easier than with the convenience of the powerful cameras built into our phones. These tips will help you snap better family photos on your phone, whether it be fun vacation memories or a cherished moment at home.
With expert insight from a professional photographer, Hannah Smith, founder of Little Bug Photography, embrace these travel and family photography tips for beginners.
About Hannah of Little Bug Photography
Hannah Smith is passionate about capturing moments and preserving memories for families. Experiences are the best investment we can make for our families, and she founded Little Bug Photography to give mothers a boutique photography experience.
At each session, she focuses on capturing what makes your family unique and what makes your love beautiful. As a memory preserver, she is all about getting images off of screens and onto your walls, with print credits included in every session, so your family can treasure them for generations to come.
Family Travel Photography Tips For Beginners
Utilizing a professional photographer to capture professional family photos is wonderful a few times a year, but how about all the other days. This is where learning a few phone photography tips can help you create stunning images while capturing the beautiful moments of everyday life.
Try To Use Natural Lighting When Possible
Often when a photo turns out blurry, it is not an issue with the camera but rather the lighting. The camera on your phone senses when there isn’t enough light, so it keeps the shutter open longer to let more light in. This results in a blur. The camera will also automatically increase a setting called ISO, which results in “noise” or “grain.”
Natural light (sunlight) is always the first preference. Outdoor photos are more vivid and brighter because of the natural light. If taking pictures indoors, try to capture your image in a room with more sunlight or open a few window coverings before turning on lamps.
The Golden Hour
Remember that when taking photos that the outdoor light is most dramatic just after sunrise and just before sunset. If photographing family, remember to try to pick a time that the sun won’t be shining directly in their faces. This can result in squinting and tense faces.
Enjoy The Moment
As parents, we often get caught up trying to capture the perfect moment from a vacation, experience or event. It can leave us with a camera full of photos, but we have missed the opportunity to participate and enjoy the actual moment with our children. Here are a few ideas to help break that cycle:
- Establish a set time on how long you will take photos, then put the camera down. There may be times that you don’t capture any great images; there are other times you will capture gold.
- Hand the camera off. As a mom, I often get left out of photos because I am the one taking them! If there is another family member or friend around, hand the phone to them for a few minutes to capture photos of the whole family.
- Don’t delete photos that you don’t love. WHY?! Because in a few months, you and your children will go back and treasure those moments that were captured. Children want photos of their parents, whether you think you look good or not. To them, you are perfect the way you are.
- It’s okay to stage photos. There is nothing wrong with telling your family what you want to capture, so everyone is on the same page.
Utilize Portrait Mode
Hannah of Little Bug Photography gives the best description of how to add magic to a picture with your kiddos by using Portrait Mode. A “blurry” background (this is also called bokeh) can be achieved and enhanced by using portrait mode on your phone.
Portrait Mode Works Best When:
- You have one or two subjects, and they’re all in the same place (not spread out over the room).
- Your subjects are about three to eight feet away from you.
- Your subjects are sitting still or not moving rapidly.
She dives into more details and reveals more tips on taking stunning photos with your phone in this free downloadable GUIDE FOR BETTER FAMILY PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE.
Photo Prompts For Kids To Capture Better Family Photos
Children never seem to want to cooperate for a picture, especially toddlers who seem to be going running away in the opposite direction quicker than you can snap a photo. That is why candid images always turn out the best. They capture the emotion behind the experience. For active photos, try using burst mode, which captures the moment over multiple frames.
Here are a few photos prompts for kids to try out:
- Have children interact with each other or with a parent. “Can you tickle your sister’s toes?” or “Go scare daddy!” These are all ways to capture fun memories.
- Find something for them to look at. “Can you see what is out of that window?” This will result in a photo of all the kids together, standing somewhat still.
- Pique their curiosity. Capture moments of your kids exploring. “Can you go see what is over there?” Or ” What is over the bridge?” It gets your kids on a trail, walkway, or by whatever background you wish.
- Give them a prop. For those beach photos, grab a bucket and shovel. For a hiking photo, have them get walking sticks to pose with.
What To Do When My Child Hates Taking Pictures
While we want to respect our children’s wishes, we still want to capture memorable moments with them. Sometimes, the minute you walk into the room they stop doing the activity; other times it is a teenager refusing to be photographed. This is means you will have to take photos when they don’t know they are being captured.
We resort to sneaking around a corner, getting down on the floor, or merely pretending to look at our phone while taking a photo. Don’t worry if you take a picture with a doorframe or a bit of a wall. It can enhance the image by telling its story.
Additional Tips For Taking Better Family Photos While Traveling
Check Your Background
Don’t spoil your perfect vacation shot with an ugly trash can, big pole, or a large group of tourists in the background. Do a quick survey of the area to make sure there are no unsightly items that could take away from the photo.
Be sure to take few steps back to capture the destination in your photo along with the kiddos. That why you will remember where you were when the photo was taken.
We all have that one beach picture with random people walking in the background. Patience can sometimes pay off, especially on the beach, to capture photos without anyone in them.
Get Down To Their Level
For a unique angle, try getting down on your child’s level. It brings a new aspect to the photos while capturing life from their perspective.
Look For Inspiration Before Arriving At Your Destination
Before visiting a destination:
- Check out popular spots for photographs.
- Get inspired on Instagram, Google the destination, and the places you will be visiting.
- Map out a plan of shots you “hope” to capture.
Use A Tripod or A Tree!
Don’t be afraid to bust out a tripod to take a family photo. Tripods get a bad rep for being time-consuming to set-up, but if it means you are going to get a full family photo in front of the Grand Canyon, do it. You may even encourage others.
Most phones have camera timers allowing these moments to be captured with ease. It is even better when it is synced to a smartwatch, so no one has to run to hit the timer.
No tripod, no worries. We have set our phone up in a tree, on rocks, or whatever seems to feel right to capture the moment.
Don’t Be Afraid Capture The Negative
One of the best things I have been capturing are negative aspects of our trip. While it isn’t always enjoyable in the moment, it has proven to be the funniest memories when we look back. Angry kids at the happiest place on earth? Or perhaps getting soaked in a downpour!
Discover more tips for traveling with kids.
Apps To Use For Editing Photos
After snapping the perfect image, it is common practice to use filters or overly edit the image to distort it. Keep in mind, when utilizing filters or editing tools, also keep the untouched original. The original is often what families come back to years later to enjoy.
Our favorite editing tool is the Lightroom app. It is the best free tool for editing your
photos. It can be quite overwhelming at first glance as there are many various adjustments you can make.
I recommend playing with each different one to know how they affect the photo. Then only use a few tools such as brightening, sharpening, or adding in contrast. Photos can be cropped as well. Lightroom also has an upgraded version that can be purchased.
Another free editing tool that can help you enhance your photos. It is similar to Lightroom in its features and abilities.
For more tips on taking stunning photos with your phone, download the FREE GUIDE FOR BETTER FAMILY PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE.