8 ways to balance photography on your family vacation

8 ways to balance photography on your next family vacation by Kristen Ryan

Are you going on a family vacation this summer and contemplating how to balance photography and family time?

Then I have some tips for you!

8 ways to balance photography on your next family vacation by Kristen Ryan

1. Choose your time wisely.

Spend your time shooting earlier in the morning or later in the day to take advantage of the best light.

little girl standing on beach picture by Kristen Ryan 1

kids playing in a field photograph by Kristen Ryan 2

2. Forget pictures for a while.

Put the camera away during the midday hours and give your family your undivided attention.

3. Find fun locations.

Seek out places that will be fun for the kids and good shooting opportunities for you. If they are safe and enjoying themselves, you can relax and take your time finding the best perspectives.

boy standing in water pic by Kristen Ryan 3

child in field with mountains in the background picture by Kristen Ryan 4

4. Embrace the light.

Do not pass up capturing fun memories just because the light is not ideal or the background is distracting. This is your vacation and memories should be captured even if the images will not fit into your portfolio.

5. Get some you time.

Take the opportunity for solo landscape or nature shoots before sunrise or get the kids to bed early and head out for the last light of the day.  It will be worth your effort!

sunset landscape photo by Kristen Ryan 5

6. Quiet time.

Capture some of the quiet moments and downtime when your kids are relaxing after all the fun you have had all day!

black and white phot of kids in chair by Kristen Ryan 6

7. Safety first! 

Keeping kids safe always comes first. Whether you are at the beach, hiking in the mountains, or out in public, sometimes it just is not safe to get the shot! With 4 young kids, there are many times I have to miss a great photo opportunity because I must be 100% attentive for the sake of safety.

8. Get in the frame!

Capture some family shots or images with you and your kids or spouse.  Pass off your camera to someone else or set up a formal shoot with a tripod.

Plan the shoot for early morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky.  Set up your tripod and camera settings and take some test shots of yourself or your spouse before you bring in the whole family, cutting down on the time that everyone is standing around waiting for you. And let your kids take turns pressing the remote button. They will love it and be more invested in the process if you involve them in a fun way. Remember that the best shot is not always the one with everyone looking at the camera smiling perfectly. Interact with each other and take lots of images. You never know which one will be the best!

family photo in a field by Kristen Ryan 7

family portrait in window by Kristen Ryan 8

Kristen RyanKristen Ryan, Illinois
Click Photo School Instructor | CM Mentor
website | facebook | pinterest | instagram | daily project
With her Nikon D800 and several lenses, Kristen Ryan is a natural light photographer specializing in lifestyle, fine art and landscape images. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband of 10 years and 4 young kids. Her everyday finds her striving to freeze the moments of her little ones’ childhood in an artistic way. Her love of nature and the outdoors fuel her passion for landscape photography. When not focusing on photography or family, she likes to spend her time with a cup of coffee, reading, running, and cooking. She is also a former professional harpist. Kristen is the workshop instructor for The World Around You a co-author of The Road Less Traveled: Finding Your Unique Path.

Read all photography tutorials by Kristen Ryan.


  • Monica H. says:

    Great tips Kristen! Thanks for sharing!

  • Melissa says:

    Great ideas thank you for sharing. I love the idea of saving the midday hours to give your family your undivided attention.

  • Aryn says:

    These are wonderful tips! I will be sure to keep these in mind during out upcoming vacation.

  • Lacey Meyers says:

    Great list, Kristen! I need to remember to put my camera away for awhile on vacations and not always see our time through my camera. 😀

  • Alison says:

    Heading off next week for Tahoe – this is perfect timing, thanks!

  • Jana says:

    Thanks Kristen, Great tips. I love making a time for a camera and time to just put it away.

  • Heather says:

    This blog post comes at just the right time! Great tips! I always find it difficult to balance my time between family and photography when I’m on vacation. I want to capture it all, but at the same time take it all in.

  • Amber says:

    #8 is a great tip – I need to get in the photos more

  • Desiree says:

    Great tips! Wish I’d remembered to get in the frame more on our last vacation.

  • Valerie says:

    Good reminders – thanks! We’re going on vacation soon and I want to make an attempt to get in the frame a few times this time.

  • christie says:

    I will definately have to try this

  • Shawna Sweeney says:

    I wish I had read this sooner but we got back a few days ago :( Good post!!

  • Kathleen says:

    Taking amazing photos of my family while on vacation is something that I dream about. I will keep these tips in mind for our August beach week! :)

  • Lindsay says:

    Great tips! I spend so much time making sure I get great pictures of everyone else that I never seem to get any of my own! Next time I’m making it a goal to get at least one decent picture of myself with the kids!

  • Great tips! Heading out tomorrow for a trip so I’ll definitely have these in mind.

  • Melissa Sanchez says:

    Gorgeous photos! Awesome article! I love it! It’s always easy to be left out of the photo, I have to remind myself to get in the photos too!! :)

  • love these tips! and AMAZING photos… love the first family one! did you use a tripod/automatic timer for that shot?

  • Melissa says:

    I love all of these tips and photos! I often stress about this. When family comes to visit or we adventure somewhere, I have fallen into trying to document the whole trip, but then I feel like my kids never see my face. I like the idea of setting aside a good stretch of time in the middle of the day to be completely present, then enjoy the pretty light later on or in the morning.

  • Thelma says:

    Great ideas and amazing images!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Carol D says:

    Beautiful scenary!

  • MelissaU says:

    Thank you for sharing. #2 is especially hard for me as I’m someone who wants to document everything 😉 I will try my best to put the camera down every so often and just “be in the moment”.

  • Such great tips! I always struggle with this and usually just forget the pictures altogether and then I’m disappointed later.

  • Shanna Aitken says:

    Oh I struggle with this! Great tips!

  • Felicia Murray says:

    Great tips, my kids run now when they see my camera come out.

  • Such wonderful tips, Kristen!! I LOVE your images, especially the first one with your family. Thank you for sharing. <3

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