Why You Need Destination Family Photos

In the age of smartphones, everyone has a camera in their pocket. But in a world where selfies abound, you need destination family photos. Why?

As our tenth wedding anniversary approached, my husband and I realized that we hadn’t taken any official family photos since our wedding day. Here’s what we learned about destination family photos.

Make It Memorable

Your destination family photos represent a dual memory – that of your trip and your family as a whole. To make it memorable, you should (1) include everyone in the picture and (2) choose a meaningful backdrop.

Include Everyone

Sometimes, mom or another family member gets left out of the picture because they’re the ones taking the picture. Or, not everyone on the trip happens to be at the same place at the same time. Plan in advance to gather everyone at a single location and have a non-family member in mind to take the picture.

The World Is Your Backdrop

Many destinations have iconic landmarks – Cinderella’s castle at Disney World, the globe at Universal Studios, or the 3D “Cozumel” letters in Cozumel, Mexico.

There are other meaningful places you can use as a background, too. Perhaps it’s an empty stretch of beach, a scenic overlook, or a grand staircase. Do a bit of research in advance, then keep your eyes peeled for even more great photo opportunities.

Don’t Stress!

For some, hiring a professional photographer takes the stress out of vacation photos. On cruises, at resorts, and on-site at many destinations, photographers are waiting to take your photo for a small fee.

These experienced photographers know how to coax the best poses out of each family member so you don’t have to stress. They also already know the best angles to capture memorable landmarks or backgrounds in your picture. They are also equipped with powerful flashes or other lighting – something your phone camera doesn’t have.

For others, spontaneous moments are less stressful. You can enlist a friend, passerby, or service provider at a restaurant, hotel, etc., to snap a group photo for you.

How to Prepare for Family Pictures on Vacation

Here are some pro tips for capturing heartwarming family vacation photos.

  • Don’t do a selfie. Selfies are fun casual photos, but the arm’s length angle (and someone’s face very close to the camera) doesn’t make for the perfect picture. Ask someone to take a photo for you, or hire a local photographer.
  • Dress the part. How you dress for your photo depends on the destination, but having some consistency is key. White is a great color for the beach or earth tones for autumn foliage. Try to avoid clothing with noisy patterns or t-shirts with advertisements.
  • Include fun props. Let photo props tell a story – leis in Hawaii, drinks on the beach, or lightsabers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, for example.


We planned our coordinating outfits in advance and took advantage of the cruise ship photographers offering shoots with no sitting fee. Now, we have family photos we’ll treasure for a lifetime. With these tips, you can, too.