a girl holding a slice of watermelon.

Photographer Mom Shares How to Take Great Picnic Photos

Are you getting ready for a family picnic this holiday weekend? This is a great time to take some beautiful family photos! The challenge is that you also want to relax and have fun. Here's how to do both.

We gathered tips from photographer and mom Beryl Ayn Young on how to take great family photos while still being able to make memories.

1. Make a Shot List

full length shot of little girl running in the park with her dog.
Image Credit: AT-Production/Shutterstock.

Visualize what you want your photos to look like before the day even happens, and write your thoughts down!  For family events you can tell the story of the day through the details you capture. Ideas for a picnic or barbecue might include:

  • barbecue full of food cooking,
  • the food spread out on the table or blanket,
  • kids playing with dogs,
  • parents and kids playing.

You don't have to carry that list around, just the process of writing it down will leave photo ideas fresh in your mind.

2. Look for the Light

a man and woman sitting on a blanket in a park.
Image Credit: NDAB-Creativity/Shutterstock. 

The key to making your camera work best and capture clear photos is having lots of light available. Look for lots of natural light, without harsh shadows.

3. Use Continuous Shooting Mode

Happy kids doing headstands on lawn.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Most cameras have the option to take a series of shots each time the shutter button is pushed. That series option is called Continuous Shooting Mode. It can save you countless hours behind the lens! By taking multiple shots at a time, you do end up with A LOT more photos on your memory card, but typically, the time it takes to get the ‘1 in a million’ photo of your child smiling at the camera comes a lot quicker than if you were taking one shot at a time. And once you get that shot, you can put the camera away for a while and get back to partying!

4. Enlist All Five Senses

Group of three kids holding ice cream cones that are starting to melt and drip.
Image Credit: LeManna/Shutterstock.

Don’t forget to take pictures of the details. How does the moment you’re living smell, taste, hear, touch, and look? Look for details to show these sensations. By enlisting your senses, you’ll ensure that years from now, you’ll be able to remember these moments just as if they happened yesterday.

5. Vary Your Perspective

Dog lying on grass near grill with corn on the cob cooking on it.
Image Credit: RasaBasa/Shutterstock.

Try to change up how you take an image, whether that be a close-up, taking a step or two back, getting a wide view of an entire scene, looking up, looking down, or getting at eye level. By adding variety to your images, you’ll avoid having 20 of the same setup and add interest to any life story you’re trying to tell with your photos.

6. If Using a Phone, Know Your Phone’s Shortcuts

Hands hold a phone taking picture of three happy people at a table.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Get to know your way around your camera. Tapping on your subject to improve exposure is just one of the many shortcuts phones offer for snapping images. Each phone is different, but a bit of poking around Google will help you uncover what shortcuts you have available!

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Delete

Family birthday party in a garden. People laughing and having dinner at table while kids run around.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

In the moment, when you’re running after your kids and snapping their pictures, you likely won’t have time to stop and delete all the bad snaps. And sometimes, the thought of deleting any photos of your kids can induce panic. But trust me; you DON’T need 100s of pictures of your kid eating their sandwich at the park.

If you've taken photos on your phone, why not get into the habit of deleting some images during your downtime? When you’re in the grocery checkout line, the waiting room at the doctor, preschool pickup, and so on are typically times when you might pop open social media for a quick check-in, but instead, you’d be much more productive if you give photos a quick sweep and delete instead.

Ideas – Make a Family Time Capsule With Your Photos

Mom taking photo with a child in her arms
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

One fun way to make a memory of an event is to use your photos for a time capsule.