A cool breeze running through your hair, the sun warm on your skin and the freedom of the open road: is there anything sweeter than an epic summer road trip? Whether it’s a fun weekend by the coast or a family adventure abroad, dive into our guide to taking great holiday photos on your family road trip and make sure you capture all the moments – big and small – that will make this summer unforgettable.
Tell a story
The whole ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ phrase is something that’s often repeated around the bonusprint offices, but it really is true. If one photo can tell a story, imagine the power, emotion and journey you can create with a carefully crafted sequence of shots. When you’re shooting your photos try to get across the emotions you’re feeling when taking them. If you’re taking group shots of the family or snapping what the kids are getting up to, remember that you’re capturing moments of a much bigger story, and you’ll want to remember this trip as they get older. Taking a series of photos of a subject can also give you loads of options for editing once you’re looking back at your shots.
Check your settings
The more time you spend fiddling with your camera settings, the less time you’re going to have to take your photos. It may even mean that you miss the perfect moment to take your shot (we’ve all been there!). Before you head out on the road, make sure that you’ve got yourself completely familiar with your equipment — especially if it’s new kit that you’ve bought for your vacation. Have a practice with things like the landscape or street photo settings. If you want to take a quick dive into what all the settings on your camera do, check out our handy guide here. Make sure that fiddling fingers don’t get ahold of your camera and change them all when you’re not looking!
Time is on your side
Never rush your shot. Whatever you’re shooting, just make sure to take your time. Sometimes the perfect shot just happens, and sometimes it will take a while to capture. But you’ll never be able to make it happen by rushing it. Always make sure to soak in your environment and get familiar with things like where the light’s coming from. Take the family for a walk around and check out the surroundings, explore what kind of angles you can use. Look for creative ideas to get your shot — are there any cool reflections or shadows you can use? Can you get the family to help set up the shot?
It’s all about the feelings
A road trip should always be about discovery. It’s a trip where you and your family will experience new places and meet new friends. You should be discovering more about yourself and exploring the world. You need to be documenting everything you come across, whether they’re big or small. Always keep your camera with you so you can get great photos of something that catches your eye or catches you by surprise.
Document the milestones
When you’re heading out on a photo road trip, you need to make sure to capture all the milestones of your journey. Things like the first time your kids see the sea, the view from the top of a mountain, a place you’ve been wanting to visit for years, exploring a historic monument, getting shots of the names of the towns you’re heading through, or the hotels or Airbnb’s that you stay at. All these things can work as new chapters of the story of your trip, and will create a great framework for your other photos to anchor to.
Small things matter
Sometimes it’s the shots of the smaller, subtle things that bring your story to life and add the colour to it. A spontaneous lunchtime stop at a rustic country restaurant, an awesome sandcastle sculpture you pass at the beach, a candid shot of all of you laughing and joking. Capturing these moments will really add the flavour to your road trip tale as well as creating that personal touch that will make looking back at the photos so special when you’re home.
Get the right time of day
The time of day is one of the most important things in getting the best shots on a road trip. Early mornings and late afternoons create the perfect light for landscape or portrait shots, as the light is soft and warm. The sun’s rays are almost horizontal, and will light your photos with a rich and delicate light. The light at midday, on the other hand, is not usually the photographer’s friend as the sun is almost directly above you and the light is harsh. Decide what kind of time would work best for the photos you want to take and and enjoy the rest of your time by taking lighthearted snapshots of the family.
Keep things diverse
Don’t get stuck in a rut with your photography, try lots of new challenges while you’re on your road trip. Ensure you take a wide selection of portraits, even if you tend to be a landscape lover. Try your hand at shooting landscapes if you’re normally a street photographer. Take some shots with the kids and your partner in and some shots without. Remember to take some vertical pictures too. There’s loads of variety you can add to your photography, and doing so will help build your story in a much more fulfilling way than lots of similar photos.
Remember to move
Don’t just stand there — move around! You’d be surprised at how different your shots will be if you take some while you’re crouching, some standing on a bench, moving to the sides of your subject, and even shooting from behind. You don’t want to have a collection of photos all taken from the same height and angle. Spice up your family road trip shots by taking them from lots of different positions. You’ll be glad you did.
We hope that our photo tips will help you improve your photography and enable you to take great photos during your family road trip. When you return from your adventure, why not capture the magic of the trip by putting your story into a photo book or creating some beautiful wall art? All you need to do is click the button below and get creating.