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Family Photography Tips for Proud to Print Holiday Photos

Tips for Family Photography
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Family Photography Tips for Proud to Print Holiday Photos

Kirstie Profile SmallCapturing family holidays is all part of the job of being a parent and the options for recording and displaying them these days are endless. So how do you ensure you do it properly? The key, as with most things, is in the planning. In this post, brought to you with the support of Bonusprint, we talk you through some family photography tips to help you take holiday pics that’s are so good you’ll want to print them and put them up on your wall…

Memories are made of this

How do you ensure family memories don’t get lost? How do you record your holidays so your kids will remember then in years to come? In a diary? On Instagram? Stored away in your head and wheeled out forever as family legend?

When we first started travelling when the kids were really little, people said not to bother as they wouldn’t remember anything. But each year we took pictures and added our favourite one to our walls. We now have a gallery of canvas prints downstairs from countries as far apart as Italy and New Zealand and every day they make me smile. And every so often the kids will look at one and start a conversation about a moment we’ve had together as a family.

Desert Acrobatics in Dubai Desert

A family moment captured in the Dubai desert

Are our photos as smart as our phones?

But there’s a lot to think about before you get to the stage of ordering what size of canvas you’d like or chatting about them over dinner. In this post we suggest different types of great family holiday photos you can take, and give some practical tips on how to take them, wherever and whenever you happen to go this summer. Because although we’re all photographers with the invention of smartphones, we’re not always getting it right with the shutter. And it’s not just me saying that.

As part of their new #proudtoprint campaign, Bonusprint asked Brits about their photographic habits. The research found Brits spend one hour and 19 minutes a day editing and filtering their holiday snaps, yet half of Brits (46 per cent) end up with less than 10 per cent of their shots that are truly good enough quality to print. To drill down further into this, the poll of 2000 British adults, commissioned by Bonusprint, found that the average British holidaymaker now takes 24 snaps a day whilst on holiday, publishes five to social media per day but only one in four of these snaps (25 per cent) are good enough to print out.

Despite being dextrous on favourite social sites, 28 per cent admit that they do not understand a lot of the camera settings on their smart phone cameras and over half (63 per cent) wish they printed more photographs of special moments, (as opposed to snapping hundreds of selfies which sit on social feeds never to be seen again.) 68 per cent say there is an enduring appeal to the printed photograph that digital images can never replace and half of Brits (54 per cent) admit they get more pleasure from looking at printed photographs, with holiday snaps bringing back that holiday feeling for 65 per cent.

A holiday memory captured on canvas

A holiday memory captured on canvas

Our family photography tips

If you are like the people in the survey then you’ll be pleased to hear that Bonusprint is offering a 30% discount of all photo products and free shipping with their new campaign #proudtoprint. And, later in the summer, a chance for one of our readers to win an £80 voucher for a print. More about that below. First, here’s our six top tips for capturing photos you would be proud to print.

1 A Natural Moment

One way to guarantee success is to be a fly on the wall. Capture the kids as they are, not what you want them to be. Let them be messy, happy and unposed and you’ll see real people with all their quirks and personalities in your image.

But how to do this? My advice is instead of grabbing a coffee or a sit down while they are playing, stand (or crouch, kneel or lie) amongst them. Let them forget you are there and engage in naturalistic action. Be patient and wait for a moment where you can capture the essence of them.

Give them a new toy like a bucket and spade or bat and ball. Teach them a new skill and watch them trying to master it. Or just let them go off and do what they do with you hanging back. I captured the following image just off the coast in the Isles of Scilly, when Hannah was learning how to steer the boat. That day was great for images; I also captured them swimming, and picking up shells on the beach. (As our kids grow older and more self and image aware, it’s harder to catch them relaxed and engaged with the world than it used to be so I had to choose my moment.) If you can bear feeling like paparazzi hiding in the trees then a zoom lense may help home in on their body language and expressions, whether they are concentration, frustration or joy.

Hannah steers the motor boat in the Isles of Scilly

Hannah steers the motor boat in the Isles of Scilly

2 A Moment of Significance

It’s important to capture significant family moments for posterity. These moments can be either a gift or a poisoned chalice for a photographer depending on how high emotions are running, how many family members are involved and how lively or tired everyone feels. You’ll need to think it through and perhaps do a recce beforehand.

Where is the most photographic background for you to capture this moment on your journey together? Do you want a naturalistic shot or a posed image? How can your setting reflect how you are feeling? How can the people in it engage with the landscape or the props? What time of day is best? We often deliberately begin or end our journeys at lighthouses which suggest the end of land and also the promise of rescue! This image was taken at the end of our long seven week cycle from Land’s End to John O Groats where Cameron became the youngest child to have done it himself by pedal power. It was a huge moment and one we had dreamed about in places along the route as diverse as Edinburgh and Glastonbury.

While the joy was spontaneous, the image still needed fixing up. If the children had been tired and grumpy we may have delayed the end until the next day. The bikes had to be placed in frame as they were a big part of the story and the kids had to be pumped up to cheer. I think the promise of a lemonade and crisps was on offer. Fair exchange I always think. Hannah was just happy that her brothers were happy and had no idea of the significance of it. I love this photo. It still makes me proud to have pedalled.

Family finishes cycling from Lands End to John O Groats

Family finishes cycling from Lands End to John O Groats

3 Caught in the Act

We love to do an action shot in our family. What kid doesn’t love to fly for the camera! We tend to set them up when he have some time on our hands to do it properly. Maybe at a lunch stop or the end of the day. Because they aren’t always straightforward, especially when some amount of skill or luck is involved. Use your imagination on this, use the props in the real world around you and use the action burst setting on your camera unless you have Olympic skills in capturing a split second success. Rocks are great for jumping off, and we have had a lot of fun with hay bales, or stepping stones in rivers. This picture was taken on a volcano in the interior of Iceland near Möðrudalar farm. Cameron went on to be a dancer so I do feel it captures some of his early talents. Other great action photo opps include biking, high ropes and climbing. Anything that involved excitement or adventure, no matter how big or small. Set up some action in the garden if you aren’t going anywhere; a water fight, a pillow fight or cart wheeling. See if you can get above or below the subject for some different angles.

Icelandic Interior

The Icelandic Interior is a place like no other

4 A Dramatic Moment

The easiest way to make a regular shot special is to use the light and drama that are already there. Look around you. Notice what you could use to good effect. Where are the shadows? Where is the sun? How long until it sets for maximum atmosphere? Could you set up the same shot at dawn and then go for a family breakfast afterwards? Could you do the shot in the dark and light it with torches or phones? If the weather is misty could you use that to create atmosphere?

Think about where you stand as a photographer. Do you want to create a silhouette effect? This shot was taken on an everyday walk to Granny’s. But sitting and waiting for the moment the sun went down turned it and then making Hannah a silhouette from an ordinary shot to an aspirational one. The dramatic lighting seems to give her strength and power that a sunshine shot might not have.

Girl plays football on beach at sunset in Arnside, Cumbria

This girl can twirl. At sunset in Arnside, Cumbria

5 Natural Beauty

Nature is your best friend. Use it. Get up high in the mountains or down low in caves. The light is often better or at least more interesting, the backdrop is more memorable and the shot will be more unusual and impressive. Use the weather. Throw leaves around in autumn, splash in puddles or in the snow in winter. If you don’t have any of these to hand, find a prop you are carrying with you and have a play. Like the photo below. Chuck your hat into the wind if you can’t find a leaf.  This shot was taken in Montenegro at the top of a cable car where there was no shortage of that!

Hats in the air on Savin Kuk Durmitor National Park Slovenia

Hats in the air on Savin Kuk Durmitor National Park Slovenia

6 One to Laugh At

At the end of the day you can’t really fake a family having fun. So have some. Create a mad picture where you all act out a part or engage with each other in some way. In this picture, again in Montenegro, we decided to create all the letters of the word Montenegro. Can you tell? Cameron thought Stuart was doing  great impression of a demented squirrel. Anyway, we laughed a lot and that’s what I remember when I look at this picture.

Family Cycling on Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Family Cycling on Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Let’s See Your Best Shots

Why all the tips? Well in response to their findings, Bonusprint is encouraging Brits to make the most of their photos this summer, and capture images which are truly print-worthy. How? Well Bonusprint invites you to share your proudest holiday photographs on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #proudtoprint.

Check out the Bonusprint summer snappers guide with tips on how to make sure you take images which you are #proudtoprint. Or take a look at the company’s improved Prints line of products, making it quick, easy and fun to print photographs in sizes compatible with Instagram, polaroid-style prints and large premium prints.

Then come back and win. Right now and until 31st October 2016 Bonusprint is offering our readers a 30% discount of all photo products and free shipping  (see below). And later in the summer we will bring you news of a competition to win a voucher to print up a favourite photo that you are #proudtoprint and put it on your wall.

Challenge Yourself on the Isles of Scilly

A #ThisGirlCan photo taken on the Isles of Scilly

Bonusprint Special Offer: 30% off and free shipping

For 30% off + free shipping at Bonusprint use the promotion code PROUD when checking out, subject to the following terms and conditions.

Terms and Conditions: Your personal promotion code provides you with a 30% discount that can be used on any Photo Product purchased at UK P&P included. No substitutions, transfer rights or cash equivalents will be given. One voucher code per person, per billing address. Promotion code cannot be combined with any other offers or gift vouchers. Promotion code must be entered at checkout and discount will automatically be deducted. If you have any problems applying the discount code, please contact our customer care team prior to ordering. We reserve the right to end, vary or change this promotion at any time. Bonusprint, the Bonusprint logo and all other Bonusprint product or service names are trademarks of Bonusprint Ltd. All rights reserved. Valid until midnight: 31.10.2016

Disclosure Note: This advertising feature is brought to you in a collaboration with Bonusprint who asked us to share details of their research into family holiday photography and paid us to write and share our own tips on creating images we’d be proud to print. Beyond the research, the ideas, opinions and photography here are all our own.  

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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