6 tips for taking great photos of your summer family holiday

Lots of you have been asking me for tips for taking great family photos this summer, so I have put together a few quick tips to help you out. So here goes with my 6 tips for taking great photos of your family holiday…


1. Stay out of the midday sun
You’ve probably heard this many times before when it comes to sun safety, but it’s also important for photography as well!

One of the most important things in photography is the light. And there is good light and bad light. One of the worst times to take photographs is at midday when the sun is directly overhead. It makes people squint and creates unattractive shadows on their faces. At this time of the day my ‘proper’ camera is normally safely tucked away in the room.

So instead of taking photos in the middle of the day, try shooting first thing in the morning or last thing in the day instead when the light is much softer and more flattering. And as a added benefit, most places tend to be quiet early or late in the day. On holiday I often go down to the beach just before the sun goes down to take photos of my family. This one below was taken at about 6pm. If you really do need to take a shot in the middle of the day when the sun is shining, then take note of tip number 2!


2. Look for shade
When the sun is overhead, the best thing you can do is seek out shade. Shade creates really beautiful light to shoot in.
I know it seems a bit weird that on a beautiful sunny day, you would take your child into the shade to take a photograph, but believe me the results will be so much nicer.  To find shade just look for trees or a building casting a shadow on the ground. Or if you are on a beach with no shade in sight, just ask someone nicely if they will hold up a towel to shade your child from the sun so you can get a quick photo! Here are a couple of photos of my youngest from trip to Kalkan, Turkey….I took these at lunchtime when we have the shade of the canopy above shielding us from the sun.


3. Pick your moment
One of my favourite times on holiday to take photographs is just before dinner. When you all have that glow from a bit of sunshine, you’re all showered and dressed ready for the evening. Also the light is so much softer. On this holiday there were these lovely light-coloured stairs just outside our room that were perfect for some family portraits.

And make sure you hand the camera to someone else so you can get in the photos yourself…above is a photo of me with my boys thanks to my hubby! If you have learnt how to work the settings on your camera properly (for those of you who have been on one of my courses!) make sure you take a test shot before you hand the camera over so you can check the light and the settings.People often says my hubby must be a great photographer but really I just hand him the camera already set up (sshhh, don’t tell him I told you that!)Read this post with my thoughts on why it’s SO important that you appear in your photos too, and the main reason us women avoid getting in front of the camera.

Here is a photo from a trip to France with friends that incorporates all of the above points…we were just about to go out for dinner so the boys were all showered and happy, and I found some lovely open shade just outside the front door.

And if you want great expressions like these check out my secret tips for getting natural expressions from your children. (or alternatively just get one of the Dad’s to wiggle their bum over your shoulder as I did here!)

4. Tell a story
I know everyone loves a smiley shot of their family, but it would be very dull if every shot in your family album was like that. Make sure you are telling a story of your holiday, so when you look back at your photos in 20 years time it feels like you are transported back there. So photograph the street signs, your children’s feet, something they find. I know we all love our kids’ faces, but you don’t need to include them in every single photo!


5. Use your camera phone
As much as a love my DSLR cameras, I normally leave them at home when we go out on day trips on holiday. I don’t like to lug it around everywhere and also have the worry of it getting damaged by water or sand. And I love the fact that since I got an iPhone I have a decent quality camera in my pocket at all times. It’s also great not to have to think about the technical aspects of a camera and just focus on telling a story instead. These were all taken on my iPhone on a holiday to Turkey.


6. Don’t leave your photos on your hard drive!
I feel really passionately about the importance of printing your photos. In the digital age, we all take way too many photos (because it’s free) and so it’s not unusual for parents to come back with 300+ photos from a week’s holiday. Remember the days when you either bought a 24 or 36 film….36 photos would be a lot for a week’s holiday! The danger is that you just leave those hundreds of photos sat on a hard drive, then within a year or so it’s totally overwhelming and you don’t know where to start with organising them. Sound familiar?

Why not start as you mean to go on. So this year when you get back from your holiday, immediately go through your photos and delete any not-so-good ones (blinks, blurred shots etc) and any ones which are too similar to others. Be ruthless! Then you should be left with a reasonable number (I would say around 40-60 for a week’s holiday or less if you can) then get some printed for some frames around your house and make up a digital album. If you are totally overwhelmed by your photo organisation, then a great place to start is getting digital album’s made up of your holidays. It will literally take you about 15 minutes to put it together, and even if the only albums you get printed are a couple from your holidays each year, that is still a wonderful thing for your children to look through when they are older. For more detailed tips on organising your photos, check out my guest blog post with my 6 tips to take control of your photos.

I use Blurb books to make digital albums from my own family photos. They do great little soft cover books which are inexpensive and great for holiday albums.

If you’ve found this blog post useful, please share it with any of your friends who you think might like it too! I hope my tips help you to take great photos of your summer holiday.

Take lots of pictures, but most importantly have a great time!

Vicki signature


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Vicki Knights is one of the leading family photographers in the UK and started running her popular 'Photography for Parents' workshops in 2010 (the first of its kind in the UK!)  

Since then Vicki has developed a 'next stage' workshop, an online photography course for parentsa retreat for professional photographers and co-hosts a podcast for photographers. 


Do you struggle to get natural expressions in your family photos?

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