There are essentially two types of photos you can shoot on a family holiday: photographs of your family holiday, and photographs despite your family holiday.
Taking better pictures of your brood can be a great record of your time away together. But rather than just taking a bunch of aimless snapshots, try to use all of your travel photography skills to take more creative and atmospheric pictures.
Instead of taking endless shots of your family gurning into the camera, shoot more ‘lifestyle’ images of them doing something: this could be images of them exploring your destination or just the comical moments that happen when you’re away.
Compose your picture to show as much of the background as possible to show the holiday in context. Experiment with placing your subject at the side of the picture, with the background filling the rest of the frame. If you’re photographing your children, get down to their level for a more engaging portrait.
You need to be permanently ready for action so set the camera to automatic and use a predictive autofocus mode if possible, as this will try to anticipate action. These aren’t usually the best settings, but are very useful if you’re only going to be taking pictures intermittently.
Balance your time
If you’re trying to juggle serious travel photography with a family holiday, then your degree of success will often depend on the patience and help of your partner. In order to really take good pictures, you’ll need to get away by yourself – preferably at the best times of the day for photography.
The best way to do this is to trade some time with your partner, so you get to have some time by yourself at sunrise or sunset to take pictures and they get to do some of the things that they want to do: whether it be a lie-in or learning to dive.
Of course, it will also help if you don’t spend too long taking pictures. Maybe lobby for a couple of hours one morning to photograph a market, and a couple of hours one evening to photograph the sunset. The more targeted your photography the less it will impact on your family time.
All of this makes research and planning vital. If you only have a small amount of time to take pictures, you want to be as prepared as possible. Find out as much as you can about your destination, and prioritise the things that interest you and work out what you can realistically expect to be able to photograph.