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5 (Easy) Ways to Improve Your Family’s Beach Vacation Photos

In this digital age we live in we have a lot of pressure to take great photos of every activity we do.  After all, everyone we know will see the photos on some form of social media.  So why not try to maximize each photo op to get the best out of it?

Our family vacations should be no different.  In fact, I think family vacations should be highly photographed!  These are the memories that your child will hold near and dear to their sweet little heart.

There are so many precious moments that fly by on our vacations that could potentially be forgotten.  Like the time your 2-year-old chased the seagulls down the beach.  Or that moment when your teenager helped their little sister make a seashell collection.  Or even that silly time daddy picked up mommy and carried her into the ocean with him.  Had no one pulled out a camera and clicked the photo then these incredible family moments may have been long forgotten!  So we need to do our best to capture these photographs.

I know people who don’t take beach vacation photos simply because they don’t know what the heck they are doing with their camera.  Or they take photos and never like their results and want to give up.  If you’re ready to take better family beach photos then this is the post for you.

In this post I will give you 5 EASY ways you can improve your own family’s beach vacation photos.

Although some of the suggestions in this post will be geared towards DSLR cameras you can still apply some of them towards any camera.  Just because you don’t have the latest and greatest Nikon equipment (I’m a Nikon girl hehe) doesn’t mean you can’t get AWESOME photos!  Most cell phones these days take great photos.  So, if you’re at the beach and you see a moment that makes your heart melt then do yourself a favor and snap the pic (with whatever camera you can get your hands on.)

So without further ado, here are my 5 ways that you can improve your family’s beach vacation photos:

  1. ANTICIPATE YOUR PHOTOS:

I can see it now, you’re sitting on the beach and you see your son boogie boarding on the biggest wave ever.  He’s getting so much distance and having the time of his life.  You run over with your camera and start snapping away.  You get back to the beach house later that afternoon and realize your photos of that epic surfing sesh were anything but ‘epic.’  In fact, they’re a little blurry….and boring…and there’s a random person’s foot coming in from the side of the picture.  You get discouraged and tell yourself “That’s as good as I can get with this camera.”  Well I say “NO!”  That’s not true.  All you have to do is anticipate your photos.  Instead of snapping away to your heart’s delight actually put some thought into what your photographing.

If you see your son having a great time out in the ocean riding waves then go over to where he is and bring your camera.  Watch him ride a few waves first.  Notice the moment when he smiles the biggest.  Notice the moment when everyone moves aside and he’s the main focus.  Then when you’re ready set yourself up in the area where you know he’ll be when he smiles the biggest.  That next big wave will come in and he’ll laugh and you take that photo.  Guess what, you now have a photo of your son boogie boarding that you can cherish forever.  All because you anticipated that beautiful photo of him before it even happened 🙂

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Annapolis Family Photographer

This applies to all kinds of fun beach moments.  You know your kids the best and you know what to expect out of them.  Next time you want to take a candid photo of them just wait for that moment when you know they’re about to be cute and THEN take the photo.  You’ll be surprised at the difference in results that you’ll get.

You might think I’m a terrible mom but I tend to love taking wipe-out photos.  You know, when the wave knocks them off their feet in the funniest way.  So fun!  If you see your little ones getting washed up a lot on the beach you can totally anticipate a fun shot like the one below of my daughter with her cousins.  My kids love to have framed photos like this in their rooms.

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Annapolis Family Photographer

2. PAY ATTENTION TO THE DIRECTION OF THE SUNLIGHT

Sometimes we take great photos of our kids on the beach but they are ruined because the sun was too bright in their faces.  When you are considering taking a photo of your sweetie on the beach take a moment to think about what direction the sun is shining.  Try to avoid having direct sunlight in your subject’s face.  If at all possible move to where the sun is shining on the side or back of your subject.  That way you won’t get those super blown out bright spots on your child’s face in their photos.  That can look very distracting and take away from the beauty of your photograph.

This is one of the easiest tips for better beach photos because it doesn’t require much effort at all.  You just need to move your body over a few steps.  A task so small yet gives much better results!

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Annapolis Family Photographer

In the photo below of my kids with their cousins, I could have easily posed them with the ocean completely behind them and no beach on the side which may have been a better photo ‘landscape wise.’ BUT the sun would have been 100% in their faces.  They all would have been squinting so bad and it would have looked terrible.  Since I posed them with the sun coming in from the side it’s much more pleasing to to look at.  Although you can’t always get the baby to stop crying for the ‘all kid pic’ (LOL) you can at least pose them in a smart way that gives you the best results possible.

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Annapolis Family Photographer

3. PLAN AHEAD FOR YOUR ‘MOST PHOTOGRAPHED’ BEACH DAY

This is a tip I just taught myself during my family’s OBX vacation a week ago.  If you know you’re going to be taking a lot of beach photos on a specific day you can actually try to match your family’s outfits or bathing suits and bring cute accessories to the beach that particular day.  Now, let’s be honest… I know you’re on vacation and you don’t want to be worrying about buying a bunch of matching things and spending too much time planning.  But, you probably have a few bathing suits for each person in your family.  You can choose the ones that match each other the best for a specific beach day.  Or you might have gotten yourself a really cute bathing suit cover-up or floppy hat for your vay-cay.  Your ‘most photographed’ beach day would be a great time to wear those accessories.  That way, you know you’ll be looking your best and more likely to actually get in the photos on the beach with your kids.

During my family’s beach vacation I was on the beach everyday taking photos and they were turing out pretty good.  But towards the end of the vacation I knew I wanted to get a couple great photos of the women all together on the beach and some group shots of everyone.  So one of the last days we were there I told all the grown up girls to wear their black bathing suit so we could get some cool beach photos together.  Since I told them I’d be taking some photos we all also put a little make-up on too (lol) we’re so vein.  But you know how us women are…we refuse to get in any photos unless we feel like we look our best.  So why not take advantage of that?  At least one of your beach days!  When you post your photos on social media it’ll look like you were that glamorous the whole trip 😉

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Annapolis Family Photographer

4. FOOL-PROOF SETTINGS: 

It’s inevitable, at some point if you want to be in any of your family’s photos than you’re going to need someone else to take the photo for you.  I’ve devised a master plan on how to achieve great photos even when you have to hand your camera to someone who has no clue what they’re doing.  It’s all about choosing settings that give a lot of wiggle room.

This tip is geared more towards you experienced mom-tographers who can shoot in manual.  If you’re happy with your auto settings than by all means, hand that camera over to your niece and let her snap some great shots for you.  For me, I like control over my settings..even when I need someone else to take the photo.

So, if you shoot in manual all the time but cringe at the thought of a novice trying to shoot with your settings then listen up.  Put in settings that allow some mistakes to happen without ruining your photos.  For example, I typically shoot with an aperture of about 2.8 but when I hand my camera over to my 13-year-old to get a photo of my husband and I then I will bump that aperture up to 4!  This way, if she doesn’t get the focus spot on then I’ll still have a sharp photo because of that deep depth of field.

I’ll do the same with shutter speed.  When you’re shooting something on a beach at sunset you’ll notice that it gets dark quick.  Once it gets to a certain point I’ll shoot with a shutter speed of 1/125 (which is pretty low) to get a few more in before I have to call it a night.  However, with a shutter speed that slow it’s easy for a newbie (even experienced photogs) to get major blur!  So, if it’s getting dark during sunset but I still want a cute photo of me with my baby then I’ll keep my shutter speed around 1/250, crank up my ISO (to the point of a little graininess), then hand the camera over to my hubby.  I don’t know about you guys but I’d rather have some grain in my photos than have a blurry piece of crap.

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Annapolis Family Photographer

5. INVEST IN A TRIPOD AND WIRELESS SHUTTER REMOTE

I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  I’ve always been the one in my family taking all the photos.  That means I’ve tried many ways to figure out how to get me in the photos too.  Up until two years ago I was doing the ole ‘set the timer on the camera and do a 60-meter dash to pose for the photo’ trick.  My family and I would get a kick out of the first few photos my camera would snap off because you can see me running to the pose.  It’s quite hilarious.

But my ‘beat the camera timer’ days are over!  I’ve got myself a good tripod and a wireless shutter remote so I’m all set.  By using these two pieces of equipment you can set your camera up on the tripod, put in all your settings and point the camera wherever you like.  Then you just stick the remote receiver on top of your camera’s hot shoe and voila, you’re ready to take your own photos…easily!!!  I got my remote from B&H Photo.

Now I’m free to get in as many photos as I want!  If I notice my family is having a really sweet candid moment I can set up my camera on my tripod and plug in the remote receiver to it.  Then I go have my candid moment with my family all the while hitting that remote button.  I don’t have to ask anyone to take the photo for me and I can take as many photos of my own candid moment as I want!

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Annapolis Family Photographer

Can you see my remote in my hand?  Nope, me either 🙂 Just looks like a sweet little family beach moment.  Seriously, go get one!

And when you and your girls want to have some fun and get some silly photos but your husbands are less-than-interested in taking the photos you don’t have to worry.  You have your trusty remote and tripod!  How do you think we got this photo?  You think our husbands put up with handling the camera for this?  NOPE!  If you look closely you can see how my one hand is a fist.  That’s because I’m hiding the remote in there 🙂

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Annapolis Family Photographer

So fun, right!?  So very easy too!

We had so much fun on this vacation we went on.  We have so many great memories and we CANNOT wait to do it again next year.  But you know what one of the best parts is?  I have tons of great photos to look back on to remember those wonderful moments we all shared!  My kids get a kick out of all the photos too.  They forgot about some of the stuff we did but when they saw they photos they said “Ohhhhhh, yes!  I remember that!!!”  So if they barely remember it now and we just left a few weeks ago, imagine in 10 years.  They’ll be proud to have an album of photos to look back on to remember these wonderful days.  Your kids will be too when they look back at all the FANTASTIC photos you’ll be getting after reading this!

Before I end this post I also have to share a few of the photos that I took during our EPIC Beach Photo Shoot.  You know I had to do a photo shoot on these gorgeous beaches right!?!?!

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Annapolis Family Photographer
www.paintthestarsphoto.com
Annapolis Family Photographer
www.paintthestarsphoto.com
Annapolis Family Photographer

I’m so obsessed with the beaches in NC.  They were stunning, a photographer’s dream!

I hope you all enjoyed this post about improving your family’s beach vacation photos.  My wish is that these tips and suggestions significantly help you achieve better photos.  I wanted to make them as easy to understand as possible.  I truly believe that if you follow these tips you’ll see great results.

Would you do me a favor?  Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on these tips.  I’d love to hear what you think!  How do you photograph your own family at the beach?  Do you struggle to get the results you’re hoping for?  Do you have another suggestion that we should add to this list??  Let me know!!!

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Thank you a million times for reading my blog post today.  I loved writing all about our vacation and ways to improve your beach photos.

See ya next time 🙂

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