It’s your annual family vacation and photos are definitely on the itinerary. Take your soon-to-be favorite family photos up a notch by making sure they turn out as picture perfect as the memories in your mind. Whether you’re camera challenged or just want to up your game, here are some of our favorite tips for making all of your vacation photos even more album-worthy.

Making the most of mobile

If you have a DSLR camera you should, of course, bring it. But mobile devices like smartphones and tablets take great pictures, too. Add on a few apps and accessories and you’ll have even more technology at your fingertips.
Like DSLR cameras, using a lens on your smartphone or iPad can improve image quality and give you more creative options. From detachable fish eyes for awesome panoramic style shots to lenses that make it possible to take high quality panoramic shots, attaching a lens turns your smartphone from a calling device into a memory-making machine.
Take your group pictures using selfie sticks, which look like telescoping rods with a phone attachment. You control the angle and release the shutter with a built-in remote. For once, you can all be in the picture without having to find a random person to snap it for you.

Pose like you mean it!

You don’t have to completely abandon traditional group shots with kids posed in front of monuments just to have some fun. Try a few of these creative photo styles to up the ante on your potential holiday card photo:

-Action shots: Whip out your camera when the kids are playing in the park or on the beach. Catch them mid-air on the trampoline, when they’re not paying attention to you. No worries about taking too many pictures — just delete unwanted ones later.

-Guided portraits: If at a picturesque place, pretend you’re a pro. Give the kids cues of what to do, like running toward you on a bridge, peeking through the branches or cartwheeling on the boardwalk.

-Artsy pictures: Use building lines and landscapes in artistic ways. Pose the family in a rustic barn entryway, the wooden door framing them. Plunk the family in the middle of a deserted road, capturing them with the road ribbon and horizon behind them. Station the kids in a field of flowers, contrasted with a wide open sky behind them.

Golden hour photos

The golden hour is photographers’ favorite time to take pictures, in the day’s first light and just before sunset. Take advantage of the golden hour by trying these tips:

-Position your subject so the sun is next to her, forming a halo around her head. You’ll get a good view of her lit-up face with a soft, warm light effect behind her. Remember to expose for her face, so your shot is nice and bright.

-Normally it’s hard for people to face the sun during photos, but not during the golden hour. No squinting needed, and the light will fall on them in the perfect way.

-When shooting with a DSLR camera, play with the aperture for different effects by setting your camera to Aperture Priority (AV). A wider aperture (F 2.0-4.5) gives you better close-up portrait shots with a professional-looking blurred background, whereas a smaller aperture (F 8.0+) does a great job capturing the whole scene if you pose a group of people against a landscape. Even some point-and-shoots give you a control over aperture and shutter settings these days!

You’re on Candid Camera!

Sneak the camera out for some candid shots when the family isn’t paying attention if you want to capture some extra genuine moments:

-Awesome sights: When you’re at a performance or zoo and your kids are wide-eyed, amazed by what they’re seeing, turn the camera on them to capture their expressions instead of the action in front.

-Expressions: Catching your child’s face during a high dive jump might be more special than the jump itself. Zoom in to get facial expressions when they’re in middle of something active like rock climbing or focused on creating art.

-Discussions: You’ll get great photos of genuine smiles and laughs when people are talking to each other.

Details, details, details

When you think back on your trip later, you might remember small scenes in your mind, like ski gear piled up by the door after a successful day on the slopes or mittens drying in front of the blazing fire. Even an image of your child’s favorite stuffed animal propped up by a board game can instantly transport you back to that moment in time. Don’t forget to document these moments with a picture!

If you’re making a photo album of your trip, think about storytelling through imagery. Using a mixture of family photos, landscapes and vignettes like the ones above will bring your story to life.

The right gear

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right bag to carry your camera gear, which means leaving behind preferred equipment. Consider swapping your camera bag for something more subtle and comfortable, like a messenger bag made for DSLR cameras or a padded camera backpack offering no clue as to its contents.
Save on space by downsizing other gear too. Tripods are bulky, but smaller tripods that fold up are a good option. Bring extra memory cards so you can leave the computer at home, downloading photos later. Batteries drain more quickly when taking a lot of photos. Leave a set charging at the hotel so you have a fresh set each day.

If you’re worried that your electronics will get damaged in the elements, opt for a waterproof GoPro camera or Polaroid Cube which do double duty — photos and videos.

Trinkets gather dust, but photos make long-lasting vacation souvenirs. Take your photos to the next level, and your all friends will want to see your travel pictures and photo album!