I grew up in a small town in Idaho, going on numerous camping trips and family vacations.

We hardly ever flew as we couldn’t afford it, so we’d pile in the car and take a two week road trip somewhere new once a summer. Lucky for us, the family adventures didn’t end in the summer since we lived close to a plethora of mountains suited for backpacking trips, hiking, fishing, and skiing.

My love for adventure and all that comes with it started at a very early age and continued through my marriage and the birth of my two kids. My daughter Ella first went to Hawaii when she was 6 months old. Isaac first went when he was 3 months old. We have continued the cycle and have fostered the love of adventure with our kids, and I have built my business around the idea that we will have numerous family outings every year. There are endless opportunities for exploration and adventure, even in your own backyard. Living in the Pacific Northwest gives us many options to expand our horizons.

Like you, I love to have my camera with me to document our adventures. I’ve narrowed down my eight favorite tips and tricks for taking great adventure photos of your kids while still being in the moment.

1.  Establish your setting

I like my photos to tell a story. These establishing photos, when I look back at them, tell me where we were and sometimes how we got there. It sets the scene for our adventure, just as writers set a scene at the start of their stories.

family vacation photo in the forrest by Kim Hildebrand

2.  Take action

What type of adventure are we having? Are we skiing, hiking, camping, or doing something else? These photos happen in a split second and are hard to catch sometimes, but they add a lot of energy and fun to your story.

girl jumping into the water by Kim Hildebrand

family and dog running into the water by Kim Hildebrand

3.  Seize the moment

These can be action-filled moments or quiet moments that could easily go unnoticed by most. Many times, during a lull in the activity, I see a unique composition or cool lighting that screams photo opportunity, even if nothing in particular is happening. These little beautiful moments are just as powerful and serve to add a different, unique element to documenting your family adventure.

kids on a boat with their arms up by Kim Hildebrand

kids playing in a pool by Kim Hildebrand

4.  Change your perspective to add interest

I love this tip because it can always be a new challenge. We go to our cabin in Idaho every summer, so it is a challenge getting one-of-a-kind photos in the same setting. Clearly the moments you capture will be distinct, but you can also change the perspective and use light differently to give photos an entirely new level of interest.

pictures taken on a ski lift by Kim Hildebrand

5.  Details

As with photo sessions or weddings, capture a few details that jump out at you. For our family story, these details are usually something that the kids have been actively engaged in that I want to remember. In the example below, I wanted to remember the frog that the kids caught and spent hours making a habitat, feeding, naming, and loving.

frog in a jug of water by Kim Hildebrand

Other memorable details have been quirky, unusual circumstances, like skiing on a warm, wet day. Isaac’s ski boots were covered in mud! I incorporate these detailed shots in our family photo albums and they always generate conversation.

boy in his ski boots by Kim Hildebrand

6. Don’t forget down time

What are your kids doing when they’re content and relaxed during a break from the adventure? These shots, usually before or after our activity, can bring out a side of your family you can’t get with action or posed shots.

relaxing on family vacation by Kim Hildebrand

7.  Get in the frame

I’m the photo-taker in the family, but after seeing how many times I haven’t been in our photos from outings, I’ve been making a more concerted effort to take selfies with my kids or get my husband or passersby to take a photo of us.

Related: Because You Were There, Too: 16 tips for family self portraits

kid in a kayak by Kim Hildebrand

mom and kids on a rock by Kim Hildebrand

8.  The end

As the day winds down, I pick up my camera once more and take a few low-light photos. I love the challenge of working with low and available light in a sometimes challenging setting. It can also wrap up the adventure nicely.

black and white photo of kids ice skating by Kim Hildebrand

Be thoughtful about pulling out your camera and don’t worry about perfection. It can lead to a negative reaction from your family if you are obsessed with the perfect shot. Besides, you should be living in the moment with them. You are on an adventure so be adventurous with your photography. Incorporate these tips into your next outing and I’m certain you will like the results!