The Photographer ~ on a Family Vacation ~ with Kids

The Photographer, on family vacation, with kids  by Kirsty Larmour

I’m lucky, very lucky – my family (me, hubby, 2 kids aged 4 and 2) have lived in some awesome places and managed to travel to some even greater places in our time – but it doesn’t matter how far and wide you travel, the one thing we all want to do when we’re on vacation is relax, but if you’re a parent with a camera (especially a photographer parent with a camera) you also want to get fantastic pics of your kids on holiday and to create some really great lasting memories.  In fact some of my very favourite pictures of my own kids are from our holidays just because of the fact I’ve been more relaxed and putting myself under less pressure!

So here is a series of points I find help me on that quest!! I don’t consider it a definitive list by any means but I hope it’ll help a few others as we approach the summer holiday season.

1. Put away the big camera!

This in itself takes some of the pressure to perform off you as the photographer! I can’t take my big D700 and the mega lenses on holiday – with a 2 year old and a 4 year old, plus nappies (yeah I’m British!!), snacks, colouring books, leaky water bottles and beach sand it’s just a liability. So I only ever take my old falling apart D80, which I don’t care so much about if it gets a little battered, or needs throwing into a nappy (diaper!!) bag when a toilet emergency occurs! Holidays are a time for relaxing and lying back in a hammock!

2. Don’t forget the basics – early morning and late evening light are still the best – open shade still beats midday sun – so try and focus your days activities so that you’re in places you might want to photograph at the appropriate times. I personally find that vacation or not, my kids seem to be up early and much as I don’t want to get up that early too, one of the things that works is to get up with them, wear them out and all of us take a mid-day siesta before hitting the pool / sights / beach etc. again late afternoon.  When we went to Petra in Jordan we saw the sites at dawn the first day, but didn’t see as much as we wanted, so 2 days later went back late afternoon after a lunchtime snooze – bingo, less people, even light on the main sites – wonderful pictures!

3. Don’t miss the shot just because it’s not photographically perfect – it’s still a memory of your holiday or vacation! For sure we don’t want to take photos in that harsh midday sun, but if midday is when you’re there, then go on, take it anyway – I adore this one, taken in Oman near to the border with Yemen – it was taken around 11am, on a blazing hot day – it’s got crazy bright sunlight – but I love it – it shows where we were, the stunning scenery and deserted beach and my 3 favourite people enjoying that!

4. Suggest, and Move

Just as at a photo shoot – make suggestions and manouver your kids into the right places and then move yourself so that you get the right angle. Here, a simple “Go wave bye bye to the sun” as we lazed on the beach by the Indian Ocean worked the trick…..

5. Lie back, take your time, don’t get in your kids faces – they’re on vacation too – when you’re chilling out on the beach your kids will chill out too and before you know it you’ll spot them engaged in the perfect activity for a quick snap – as seen here with my daughter dancing on the beach as the sun went down – resulting in some gorgeous dancing in the sunbeams pictures.

6. Capture them doing things they normally wouldn’t do. As city kids living in an apartment in a country where we spend half the year indoors, the great outdoors is always an adventure for my kids – on a recent trip to India I captured a series of my eldest climbing trees for the first time – they’re the perfect memento of the holiday and she’ll always remember she first climbed a tree in India now.

7. Catch them enagaging with other people. One of the wonderful things about travel is the opportunities to meet other people, doing different things to ourselves – it opens our kids eyes – from meeting Mickey at Disney, to meeting the people of a different countries it’s building their confidence and social skills and as parents we should be capturing those proud moments!

8.  Remember to take the details that complete the memory. Take photos of the sandy feet, the ice cream cones, the delicious food, the quirky signs and the cheesy souvenirs. Don’t just take them building the sandcastle – remember to take the sand castle too.  Take a picture of the menu at that favourite restaurant as well as them devouring their favourite meal.

* Use storyboards and magic blog it boards to share your stories of your trip.

9. Give the kids the camera too, let them be a photographer – Ok, so this tip isn’t actually about you capturing great photos of your kids, but it is about them having a great time – and sharing your passions, and reconnecting – it’s about them enjoying some fun with you and you seeing the holiday from their perspective – which in turn might give you a whole new angle to take your holiday photos from!

10. Don’t forget to get someone to take a picture of all of you together!!! It might not be perfect, it might not be how you’d take the shot, but it’s you, all of you, together on holiday!

Do you have any top tips for getting great photos of your kids while still relaxing and enjoying your vacation? Please leave comments below.

Kirsty is a lifestyle photographer in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Her biggest passions are photography, travel and hanging out with her family – she tries her best to combine all three as many times a year as she can! Over the last couple of years she’s been to Jordan, Syria, India (twice) and Oman on holidays and prior to that lived in China and traveled loads around there and South East Asia.  Check out the Travel category on her blog for more of her international travels.

You can see more at and on her Facebook page.

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