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How to take Better Spring Break Photos

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By: Sophie Walsh, Sophie Ryan Photography    |   March 30, 2022


All photos taken and copyrighted by Sophie Ryan Photography

Spring is in the air, which means Spring Break is just around the corner. This is the first year, in a while, that life has felt like it once was. For many of us, Spring Break will be our first “real vacation.” Here are some photography tips to help you capture that vacation magic so you will remember the family fun for years to come. We all could use a little more fun in our lives! 

You’re on vacation, you’ve spent a week packing, unpacking, packing again…now all you want is one photo of the family with everyone looking in the same(ish) direction—it’s not too much to ask, right? Anyone who has children knows that it can really be that hard! Saying ‘cheese’ creates just that, cheesy images. Some of my favorite photos are the moments that are more soulful, the candids, the moments in-between when my kids are contemplating their next move—when they’re beaming with excitement after finding a slug on a hike, or they’re running toward the ocean, arms open wide. No one actually needs to smile or even look at the camera. In my sessions, I often tell people to look away from my lens and interact with one another, so I can capture those raw emotions and real moments.  

Kids love being in charge. By giving your kids an old point-and-shoot camera or an inexpensive, waterproof kiddie-cam to document their travels, you have the opportunity to see the world from their perspective. Not only will they feel that they are contributing and being like mommy and daddy; their memories of the trip will match the photos they capture. 

The word photography literally means “drawing with light.” I use natural light whenever possible. You’ve probably heard of “golden hour,” which happens about an hour before sunset; It is my absolute favorite time of day to photograph. Shadows are long, everyone has that warm, sun-kissed glow. As parents, we may refer to this time of day as something else–perhaps “witching hour” rings a bell? During vacation, our schedules are a little looser and instead of dealing with the routines of bath and bed, it may be the perfect time to take advantage of the day coming to an end. Taking the kids for a stroller walk after dinner or watching the sunset together as a family is a great excuse to get out and take some photos. 

Many times, kid’s activities take place right smack in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead, creating harsh light, unflattering shadows and squinting stares. In these situations, it’s best to find shade, a much softer light. If there is no way around it, opt for more distant, landscape dominant shots of your kids playing on the beach, crawling through rocks or climbing a tree. 

Let’s face it, as moms, we are often the family historian and we work hard to preserve our family’s memories. Why is it that we are also the least photographed person in our family? I can’t emphasize enough that you should exist in your photos! Selfies don’t stand the test of time, they are not the photos we cherish or even print out. We really don’t need 742 photos of our children, they will be exhausted and frankly, so will we. Ask your children, partner, a stranger to take a photo of you. 

Years from now, your kids won’t be thinking about what you wore, or that you looked tired, instead they will be remembering that you were there with them. They will want to see the way you gazed at their little faces and loved on them, so that can relive that childhood feeling once again. After all, someday, photos are all they will have left to remember you by. 

I heard on the radio the other day that we are the most photographed generation and yet we own the least amount of photos out of any other generation. One of my favorite things to do, as a kid, was go through my mom’s wooden trunk and look through our family photos. They were scattered about the base of the trunk and not in any sort of order, from my parents’ wedding photos to pictures of me with my grandparents in their backyard. Looking at these old photos gave me a sense of who I was, who my people were; I remember those photos so vividly. 

We are all guilty of allowing our photos to sit in a cloud, in a digital sort of limbo. But we really don’t know what technology will look like in the future or if we will be able to access these photos. Remember storing photos on CDs? Who has a CD reader on their computer anymore? 

So. I strongly encourage you to print your photos or turn them into canvas art for your walls. Involve your children and make a photobook of your travels. It’s easiest to do something with your photos if you stay organized. Try and sort your phone photos when you have some down time on your vacation or on the plane ride home. Keep the goodies, and delete the baddies. Then turn those goodies into something you can hold with your hands. Try and make it a priority shortly after you return home, because it's suddenly back to reality, and we all know how life gets busy. 

I wish you safe travels this Spring Break, wherever they may take you and hope you’re able to capture some beautiful shots!

Sophie Walsh is a local mom and Marin County Lifestyle Photographer/ Owner of Sophie Ryan Photography. She enjoys telling a family’s story through authentic imagery. You can find her most recent work on or on Instagram at @sophieryanphotography

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