10 Vacation Tips For Photographers | How to photograph your Family Vacation – part 1 | Port Aransas, Tx

Our family just returned from vacation in Port Aransas, TX.  It was a much needed time of rest, quiet, and time alone after a season of tough changes.  Lovely friends offered their beach home (rental details below) and it was just the place we needed to reconnect and build lasting memories.  This trip was different than others of sand and play.  I was intentional, about a lot of things, especially those revolving around the lens.  Taking what I learned from our last beach vacation (photographed here), I limited shooting time and didn’t take my camera to the beach every day.
As I began blogging this, I realized that some of these tips may help others, who struggle with living behind the lens, instead of front of it.
While none of these suggestions are earth shattering, I thought some of these tips may be useful to other photographers, on vacation, and at home as well.

1) Go wide.
Get some wide shots of where you are at.  Do it in degrees:  30, 60, 90.  Take a few steps forward, repeat.

 2)  Shoot real life.
Shoot the details of travel (suitcases, the car, places you slept, food you ate, etc.)

3)  Document things unique to the environment.
All different types of footprints in the sand.  And this beach, in particular, had feathers.  It was LOADED with them.  This is incredibly significant to me personally.  The Lord has been using feather’s constantly to speak to me lately.  “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Psm 91:4.  I had no idea when I arrived that this was a signature of Mustang Island/Port Aransas.  He did.  And He knew what it would mean.  Now, because I took many images of the feathers, I’ll have these to look back on in years to come.  Remembering, that in this season, He littered the sand and waves with promises.

4)  Moment over perfection.

Mercy, this has been a learning experience for me personally.  Shoot what’s really happening with your family.  Don’t perfect it.  The perfection is in what’s really happening, not what you construct.  With clients, I always have such grace and joy to be in their moment, as it unfolds. But with my family?  I’ve been a jerk to my kids too many times in the past, wanting the shot to be right.  Barking at them when it wasn’t.  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way.  Now, I rarely ask for a posed image, I just shoot what I see.  I let them run out of frame.  I let them make goofy faces.  They look at the camera, they don’t.  Doesn’t matter.  I want who they are, not a manicured image.

5)  Shoot milestone moments.
These next images are significant for both of our youngest children.  Seeing their Daddy and older sister head out into the waves, our son ventured into the water FOR THE FIRST TIME.  Previously, he was afraid of what might be underneath.  Our daughter, was concerned because the waves were constant and would churn the sand at the shore.  She had to walk out past the sandy water, to get to where it was clear (insert life lesson here).  She tends to be overly cautious (not unlike her Mother), so her venturing out toward her Daddy was brave and exciting.  This is a milestone for both.

6)  Be ok with imperfection.
This is more in regards to yourself.  But it bleeds into everything.  How we shoot, what we shoot, how we feel about it in post.  What we choose to share, what we don’t.
None of us are perfect.  We’re doing what we love and aiming for excellence.  But it is only an aim.  Grace, and then more grace.  Shoot the sand on toes.

7)  Try something new (it’s ok to be uncomfortable).
This applies both to personal and professional work.  Lots of professionals will tell you to stick to a look, an edit, a style.  Stick and stay.  Personally, I’ve tossed that out with the garbage.  It works for some – that’s awesome.  But personally, how can I grow if I always stay the same?  We’re all drawn to what we like, because we like it.  Chances are, if you decide venture outside the box of what you’ve done, it’s because you are growing.  And it’s time.  Your tribe, many, will follow. When we’re locked in fear, we’re gripped by the “what if it’s not well received?”
What if?
So… what?
What’s the worst that could happen?
I say the worst is staying stagnant and always wondering “what if?”
You may lose some followers.  You may ____ (fill in the blank).  But living requires risk.  Without it, there’s no reward.  So, take a chance.  Try something new.
Don’t live inside someone else’s box of rules.
Give yourself permission to be free

8)  Shoot love.
Gosh, I could talk about this all day.  But it is the heartbeat of why I LOVE photography.  Love is it, people.
We’re hunting for connection, purpose and to be loved.
There are other things too, but love changes everything.
Shoot what you love.
Who you love.
And who THEY love.
How they love.
The way we love.
Love, love, love.  All day long.

9)  Get a new perspective.
Rules aside (yes, I know about cutting off limbs and out of focus shots) – get a perspective that is uniquely YOURS.  I used to be so afraid of breaking the rules, people seeing shots out of focus, and other non-conformity.  Now, I intentionally blur focus, or focus off of the subjects eyes, because more than focus I WANT FEELING… which leads me to my final tip.

10) Shoot how it FEELS.
This kind of sums up all of the tips in one, but release the need to conform, perfection, rules… and let go.  Unbridle the reigns on your heart and shoot what you FEEL.
Be passionate.  Be unencumbered.  Be unafraid.
Both in business, and in how you photograph those you love.
Sure, I took some “posed” shots of my kids (I’ll share those in another post), but I shot over 1,000 images – and only a couple hundred were posed in any way.
Choose feeling.  Real life.  Emotion.  Joy.
Choose messy hair, as her face turns into the wind.
Letting go will peel back years, add joy and may make you feel a little wild and free.

Again, choose how it feels.
You’ll go back to those images, every time.
Bonus offerings, such as:  hand off the camera and get in the frame, will come soon.  😉  Stay tuned.

With gratitude,


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