This post is part of the Outdoor Family Adventure Series. Encouraging families to get active and create lasting memories in the great outdoors!
My first love in photography has always been capturing images of my family but a very close second is capturing the beauty of nature. When we spend time together outdoors, taking images of my family members in our beautiful surroundings and recording the special memories we’re making is so important to me. Some of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken combine these two loves of mine and today I wanted to share some tips that will help you better photograph your family on your next outdoor family adventure!
Last fall we spent some time in Sedona, Arizona admiring the beautiful red rock landscapes and hiking Bell Rock. We visited the Grand Canyon, explored lava tubes and Montazuma’s Castle on the same trip, but our afternoon spent at Bell Rock was our kids favorite! It is such an amazing area and the kids had a fun time climbing the rocks, exploring crevices and taking in the desert beauty!
Tips for Photographing your Family in the Great Outdoors
Set yourself up for success. Taking just a few minutes to make sure you’re prepared can make all the difference in capturing memorable moments and making fun memories. Give some thought to what time of day you’ll be exploring your intended destination. I love to plan our outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon, avoiding the harsh midday sunlight if I can. Make sure kids have had a quick snack, your camera battery is charged, your memory card is empty, etc. These are all things I keep in mind before we head out on a family adventure.
Choose your equipment carefully. My motto when traveling is to keep things simple and this definitely applies to my camera equipment. I typically bring my camera body, one multi-purpose lens that will shoot well in a variety of situations, an extra battery, memory card and my phone. Photographing your family outdoors is a lot different than photographing them at home. You may need to take some extra precautions when it comes to protecting your equipment. I like a padded photo backpack to carry my camera in so that my hands are free while hiking to help kids, to climb or whatever else I might need my hands for.
My husband and I bring our phones with us on all our outdoor adventures and we keep them protected in our Lifeproof Nuud for iPhone cases. They allow us to take beautiful phone photos and have protected our phones while hiking, swimming, caving and more!
Spontaneous vs. posed photos. When my kids are outside exploring they are in their element and the smiles seem to come more naturally. As we hike or explore I continue to interact, ask questions and have conversations with my kids while I take photos to keep things fun and encourage more natural expressions.
I may point out a particular view and while they look, snap a photo. I tend to lag behind the group and capture images as they make their way down the trail or scale a rock. I take plenty of posed family shots too, but I love to capture my family as they experience their surroundings.
While I like to record our outdoor experiences through my own eyes, I’m also mindful that these family memories are a huge part of my kid’s childhood and want to capture the story from their perspective too. The shot below was taken when my two oldest climbed down to explore this crevice. They thought it was pretty exciting and when they called for me to take a photo of them I happily obliged.
Get everyone in the shot. When we’re outdoors as a family it can be difficult to get a photo of all of us together. My husband and I will often trade off and take a picture of each other with the kids, but its nice to get everyone in the shot once in a while. If you’re traveling with friends have them snap a quick family photo, ask a passerby if you’re comfortable, try a self timer shot or if you have a tripod it’s worth setting it up to get that group shot! Someone’s eyes will likely be closed, not everyone will be looking at the camera but you won’t regret taking that moment to take a family photo!
I’m not afraid to ask a stranger to take a quick photo for us, in fact I keep my eyes out for people around us who are using an SLR camera and appear confident in their photographic abilities. Taking a chance on a stranger really paid off on this shot. Near the top of Bell Rock we met a couple who were taking photos of the scenery and we asked them to take a quick photo for us. This stranger did an amazing job! I need to get this photo framed and on our wall very soon!
Being out in nature as a family is an amazing opportunity to create lasting memories and capture gorgeous photos! When we get home from a trip we enjoy reliving our adventures through the photos we’ve taken and I love knowing that these images will continue to bring back special memories as my kids get older.
I hope these tips will help you capture your next outdoor family adventure! Hashtag your photos on Instagram with #OutdoorFamilyAdventures, we’d love to see what you’re doing as a family to enjoy the great outdoors! You can follow along with our family’s adventures on Instagram by following @rebecca_simpleasthat.
All images for this blog post taken using my Canon 5D Mark II camera body and Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens. This blog post shares more details about all my photography essentials.
For more Photo tips join me in my upcoming Photography Workshop, Capture Life 2014! In this 12-week online workshop you’ll learn to add a touch of magic to your everyday moments, and really bring your photographs to life. I can help you tell better stories with the pictures you take and improve your technical photography skills along the way. For more information about registration and to watch a short promo video click here: Capture Life 2014 Photography Workshop.
A special thank you to EasyLunchboxes, Albion Fit, Lifeproof and KIND Snacks for being a part of the Outdoor Family Adventure series!
Great tips! I’m hoping to get some “great outdoors” pictures of our family soon, so this is just in time! Thanks for sharing your tips.
Stacy Risenmay says
Gorgeous photos! Your tips are also so spot on and makes me feel like I can do it 🙂 Thanks!
Thanks so much Stacy…glad you found these tips helpful! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks so much for this series!! I am loving it and looking forward to using your tips very soon 🙂
I’ve so enjoyed these tips, and seeing your outdoor adventure on Instagram.
Great tips Rebecca! Especially the one about looking for someone else with a dslr! we just got back from a family vacation where we learned a little lesson with handing off a camera to a stranger (good camera or phone)– ask them to take several shots – the person who took a picture for us only took one, and one of my daughers had her eyes shut 🙁
Jamie Rippy (@MamaMommyMom) says
My biggest challenge is actually making myself lug my camera around. I wish I had a smaller, light weight camera with the functionality of my Canon and the quality of my Tamron lens. Dragging them around just feels like a chore.
So true Jamie! I find that if I know the lighting is ideal and I REALLY want to capture some quality photos I’ll bring my big camera along but have opted to only bring my iPhone on plenty of our outdoor trips. 🙂
these are such great tips!! and beautiful pictures! thanks for sharing!
Ugh. If I don’t say something it will bug me all day that I didn’t let you know-plus I know that your comments are approved before posting. ANYWHO! “Beautify” is a verb, not a noun…like you used it at the beginning of your post.
It’s just a simple typo – I meant to type the word beauty.
Fantastic pictures and great tips!
bettijo @ PagingSupermom.com says
WOW! That photo the stranger took is AMAZING. So excited. Thanks for the great tips, not sure why we always end up out when the sun is blazing — so silly for more reasons than the awful phtoos. Will try to plan better in the future!
Jane Maynard says
great tips! and GORGEOUS photos! good inspiration! also, I think we might need to get those iphone cases!
We love to visit Sedona. The scenery and hiking is amazing! Thank you for your tips. These are all really helpful. Do you have a less expensive alternative to your 24-70mm lens you can recommend for a multi-purpose lens? I have the Canon Rebel T3 with the kit lens. I have a 50mm lens and a 75 – 300mm lens. I feel like the kit lens is okay but I know there has to be something better without spending almost $1800.
Do you edit your iPhone photos with an app or on the computer when you download them?
I typically edit my phone photos on my phone – the app I use the most is Afterlight.