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4 Essentials For the Ultimate Family Travel Photos

Feast your eyes on today’s guest post, coming to us from a young photographer who has a special place in my heart. Lots of helpful info, too, sure to improve your own skills when you take your next family vacation.

Documenting our family travels is one of my favorite things! It’s always sad coming home from a fun trip, but re-living those beach or mountain days through my many photographs makes it a little easier. Below, I will outline a few simple steps to getting travel photos you will enjoy looking at again and again for years to come.

No matter where you travel, incorporating even a few of these ideas will guarantee your family travel photos will bring back sweet memories for everyone :-)

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Taking Landscape Photos

Point and shoot. Landscapes can be the simplest, most breathtaking photos you take on your travels. You will want to remember what the mountains in the East, the crashing waves, or the view from your balcony looked like. Don’t overthink these photos, just make sure your camera settings are correct (or even set on Auto, for those of you who aren’t quite familiar with your camera’s settings yet!), and shoot away! I always like to get shots of the places we stay, too, especially if they are adorable Airbnb’s or fancy hotels.

Goðafoss Waterfall-Iceland

Goðafoss Waterfall, Iceland Photos Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

Using a wide-angle lens (18mm in this photo) will give you the widest perspective of your surroundings. Don’t be afraid to get locals in your photos to add perspective.


Reykjavík-Iceland Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photo


View from our balcony in Honolulu-Hawaii

View from our balcony in Honolulu-Hawaii Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photo


Taking Family Photos


Landmannalaugar, Iceland Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos


The self-timer setting on your camera is your friend! When we were in Iceland, we would go miles without seeing anyone, so our only option was to set the camera on a tripod and take a photo with the self-timer. This setting is built in to most cameras, so make sure you familiarize yourself with it before you leave town. It often requires a tripod of some sort, but if you don’t have one, you can try to find something taller and stable on which to set your camera.


Asking people to take your photo can be risky and awkward, but I say go for it! You will definitely end up with blurry, out of focus photos every now and again, but you will sometimes end up with really great photos that were worth the risk! I have all of my settings already set and ready to go before I even approach someone to ask them to take our photo. Then, I explain that they just look in the viewfinder, make sure the tiny square they see in it is focused on our faces, and then press that big black button! If the picture ends up horrible, I just say thanks and wait for someone else to come by and I ask them! 😉 It’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with! Also, I like to ask them if I can take their photo with their camera as a thank you!


Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos



Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

Share the camera. Take pictures of your family as you travel, but don’t forget to give someone else the camera for a bit so that there are photos of you, too!


Taking Photos of The “Locals”

Traveling is more than about seeing pretty sites and taking selfies with your family. I always want to remember what the locals looked and acted like. Unless they are far away from you, always ask them if you can take their photo. If it is a woman (since I am a woman), I usually start with a compliment, like “I love your bright colors and pretty dress!” then politely ask if you may take their picture. This usually works, but if they say “no thank you,” then no problem!

Surfer in Honolulu-Oahu-Hawaii

Surfer in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii Photos Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

I asked this man if I could take his photo and he said “Of course!” So as I was taking it, I asked him about what he was playing, etc. to give us something to chat about so he didn’t feel like a landmark or inanimate object. I was sincerely interested in him as a person and wanted to make him feel special.



Delta Flight Attendants Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

These two aren’t necessarily “locals”, but they were so fun and having the best time on our flight to Hawaii, I just asked them if I could take their photo! I wanted to remember them and capture their joy!



Local in Atlanta, GA Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos



Mayan Woman in Guatemala Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos


Taking Photos of The Details

What kind of food did you eat? What did the trees look like? How about those tiny plants that you saw everywhere? Capturing the little details of your travel destinations is often an afterthought, but something that people hearing about your visit will want to know.

Beach Foliage in Oahu-Hawaii

Beach Foliage in Oahu-Hawaii Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos



Shave Ice in Oahu, Hawaii Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

Shave (not “shaved”!) Ice is huge in Hawaii. Of course, we got this almost every day while we were there since it was so delicious!



“Lobsta” roll in Portland, Maine Photo Courtesy of LeggyBird Photos

Of course, when you travel with your family you want to capture those smiles and special moments enjoyed together. But capturing a little bit about the location and the people you’ll come across will truly enhance your family’s memories of the experience, as well.

No matter where you travel – around the globe or just across the State – incorporating some of these ideas will guarantee your photographs bring back more than just sweet memories for everyone 🙂

You can find more of Julia’s lovely photos on her website, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @leggybirdphotos.

Want to up your photo game? Take advantage of this free webinar TODAY to pick up a tip or two for yourself – and make your family travel photos extra-special!

The folks from The Ultimate Bundle group are at it again! Check out this free webinar by photographer Jeremy Cowart to help you take ordinary moments and turn them into extra-ordinary photos!

The folks from The Ultimate Bundle group are at it again! Check out this free webinar by photographer Jeremy Cowart to help you take ordinary moments and turn them into extra-ordinary photos!


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Julia Fenner

Photographer at LeggyBird Photos
Julia Fenner is a photographer married to a videographer. Their adventures take them around their city of Atlanta and to more exotic places, like Iceland. She loves capturing engagement photos, family sessions, travel adventures and mission trips, but also spends her time as a fun, part-time nanny!
You can follow her on Instagram, too @leggybird

Latest posts by Julia Fenner (see all)

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14 Responses to 4 Essentials For the Ultimate Family Travel Photos

  1. Bibi June 30, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Great advice!! As a still rather novice in photography, I am looking forward to taking better pictures on our vacations (and daily lives). Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard June 25, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    What wonderful photos! You’ve certainly inspired me to make photography more important in the future. I know I need to look into getting a decent camera. Any suggestions?

    • Julia Fenner June 26, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Thank you so much! I started with a canon 60D and simple zoom lens, 24-70mm. This is a versatile lens and you will be very happy with the photos!

  3. Brandi Davis June 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    These are great tips. I can’t wait to try them out on our next vacation. Although, I rarely let others handle the camera. ☺

    • Julia Fenner June 26, 2015 at 10:05 am #

      Thank you Brandi! I don’t blame on on that 🙂 maybe just give them your phone for pictures of you to start with!

  4. Leslie June 25, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Awesome photography! Great post and such a good reminder since I’m taking a short trip soon! I recently purchased a wide angle lens and this will be my first trip with it!

    • Julia Fenner June 26, 2015 at 10:04 am #

      Thank you for the kind words! A wide angle will be fun to work with on your trip! Enjoy!

  5. Mary Gilbert June 25, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    I so enjoy photography…..wish I was better at it 🙂


    • Pat June 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      Well, Mary, at the risk of sounding “salesy”, you could always try out the Beginner Bundle for 30 days and see how it goes 😉 I think there’s stuff in there for almost everyone. Personally, I’m looking forward to the free class from Craftsy.com, although I’m having a tough time trying to decide which one to take… Thanks for stopping by <3

    • Julia Fenner June 26, 2015 at 10:01 am #

      This package is definitely a great place to start, like Pat said! The best thing you can do is practice! Find photos you like and mimic their style, soon it will come naturally!

  6. Andrea June 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    looks like you guys had a great time! 🙂

  7. Marissa June 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Love taking pictures while on vacation… of course my travels have diminished quite a bit recently with kids around, but still love photography. And I’ve realized that there are some very good photographers around that are hidden as strangers…. sure some of the shots they take of us are not great, but others are simply amazing!

    Thanks for sharing this.


    Reading List home to the Cozy Reading Spot Link up

    • Julia Fenner June 26, 2015 at 9:56 am #

      You make a good point! Maybe the vacations will diminish with kids, but the family photos shouldn’t!

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