Documenting your Family Vacation

Posted by Heather on November 26, 2012

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You just planned your next vacation. You and your family have been saving up and looking forward to it for a long time.  If you are anything like me, you aim to capture your vacation in pictures while creating fantastic memories.  Memories you will have for a lifetime. 

As a professional photographer I often find my picture making during vacations unfold just as it would for an editorial project.  It's something anyone can do and most importantly, it need not take over the fun you should be having.  Think of it this way... see it as a story. Just as my projects need to tell a story with photographs, your vacation should be told in snapshots of the good times, the simple details, the laughter and the beauty. 

Try and "see" your vacation in moments. Here are a few I would be sure to include:

  • Getting there, was it a plane ride? A car or a train?  Make a picture of it.
  • When you arrived, was it nighttime? Was everyone exhasted or excited.  Did you meet up with friends or family?
  • What was the destination? Was it snowing? Was there a sign or entryway which brought about "We're HERE!" shouts?
  • Playtime, this is the guts of your story and hopefully includes plenty of laughing in the snow.  
  • Leaving.  This time always come much too soon but record it.  Were children dressed in PJ's for a long car ride through the night? Maybe they were holding a new souvenir.

Here are a few tips to also think about as your story unfolds:

  • Keep your camera with you. There is nothing worse than the perfect moment missed because you left it at the condo.  This might mean you rethink your gear.  Is your camera one you wouldn't mind carrying around all day? Is it lightweight and waterproof?  How big do you expect to print your images?  Maybe your iPhone or Droid is all you really need.
  • Mix portraits with action photos.  When you make portraits remember you can either fill the frame with your subjects face or incorporate the sorroundings to get a feel for where you are.  Add some variety to your story by doing both.
  • Always be thoughtful of the light.  If it doesn't look right to your eye, it probably won't look right when you print it.  Do your homework before you leave so you know what your camera can handle in regards to light.  How much light do you need to shoot indoors?  Can you photograph your family with the sun setting behind them? If you are not sure try this BEFORE you leave.
  • Keep your fingers, gloves, ski poles from blocking your lens. Be aware.
  • Enjoy yourself and don't always ask your kids, spouse, friends to "hold still" "stand over there".
  • Photograph each child alone as well as all of them together. Don't leave one of them out, they will notice that and probably hold it against you years later.
  • Take your cameras AV cable or your laptop to show a slideshow each night, it is lots of fun and might help your family be a little more motivated to get in front of the camera the next day.
  • Hand your camera to your spouse, your children or a stranger to get YOU in the pictures.  


When you get back home don't wait too long to PRINT your photographs.  Back them up on a hard drive, disk or on an online service. Here are some great ideas and links to help you do this.

Of course, Martha Stewart has a great idea. Check out how to use a map for a colorful backdrop in your vacation album.  The Map Album- Use a trail map!

Make a vacation Flip Book. Don't forget to video your little one's first turns through an Adventure Alley or dad's big air. Turn a video clip into retro animation, it's really easy to do. 

To print I suggest MPix.  This site offers many great quality products such as prints, cards, calendars, and magnets.  They also allow you to store and to share your photos.  Mpix is really easy to use, the prices are great.

There is also the more commonly known Shutterfly which gives you free membership to store, share, print and make photobooks with your images.

I love KOLO albums, they offer more traditional albums in lots of great colors and archival quality. 

Lastly, if you are looking to create photo books with your vacation images check into My Publisher.  A word to the wise, make sure you look for discounts with this company.  I don't think I have ever paid full price for a book with them.  When I come home from a trip I just drop my photo file into their free photo book application. It takes about 15 minutes and I save the book on their website until a sale comes along. 

Creating snow memories for your children are some of the most wonderful things we can do for them.  It need not be glamorous or leave you exhausted and broke.  On your vacation save time to savour the simple joy of playing together and trying something new.  If you have any questions about planning your family winter vacation do not hesitate to ask a Snowmama on the blog.  We love to help families create unforgettable moments!


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Comment posted by Mat @ on December 24, 2012 1:19 PM MST

Good advice. I particularly appreciated the tips on which moments you should catch in order to tell a story with your pictures. The ones you name seem like the moments that make the biggest impression when you're actually there. If you have pictures capturing them, it's that much easier to relive the memories later.

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