Dos & Don’ts from 2020’s Best Photographers

Winners share their secrets for taking unforgettable family photos while on the road.

By Liliia deCos

When we launched the ROAM 2020 Family Travel Photo Contest, we judges agreed that the technical qualities of the winning pictures was not as important as the way a photo captures the spirit of family travel. Because we all know that in the end, it’s not about getting the best Instagram shot, it’s about creating a keepsake of an experience shared together.

The hundreds of entrants in our 2020 contest truly amazed us! The unique perspectives, angles and compositions made it clear that even though we may not all be professional photographers, our desire to document our family trips encourages us to take hundreds of pictures and, in the process, become quite expert in capturing our kids at their best.

We asked the winners of the 2020 Photo Contest to share their tips for how to get the best shots. And though they might disagree on what camera to use, they all agreed on a few dos and don’ts.

What follows are not classic photography tips such as the “rule of thirds,” the “exposure triangle” or the benefits of a tripod, but tactics that have been used by real families on real vacations with real kids – real successfully

Pro Tips for Taking Better Pix

DON’T:  Strike a Pose

“The best shots are the ones that pop up when you least expect it,” – Simon Greivulis of brit.simon.asha.billie

“I try to be patient and capture my kids naturally since posed photos almost never work for us.” – Alison Bowman-Salas of findingsalas

“I noticed that my best pictures are often the ones taken ‘during the action’ because they tell a story… Try to avoid asking your kids to pose – you have to be sneaky…” – Florian Decaux of goflo_travel

DO: Shoot Fast!

“Since my kids can’t stand still for a minute, I like to take ‘action shots.’ I get the best results when I take multiple photos at once; I just press the button for a couple of seconds and choose the best picture later,” – Eliane Züerrer from elianezuerrer

“When shooting, I use burst mode so I don’t have to try for the perfect shot. I can choose from a mix once the moment has passed,” findingsalas

DO: Consider the Setting

I have the best luck when I take outdoor photos in natural light. It’s hard to go wrong when the light and backdrop are in your favor. The simplicity really lets the kids shine,”findingsalas

“Keep backgrounds plain and simple if you want to focus on a particular object or person. It makes the subject stand out more,” – Kylie of lapofthemapfishingaustralia

“As a photographer, I should tell you ‘Take pictures in the morning or before sunset when the light is the best.’ But as a father with four kids, I must tell you ‘Take a picture when you can and capture the moment!’ My “Riders on the Border” photo was taken at noon – the worst time in term of light! – but I was still able to capture a great moment!’”goflo_travel

“Try to capture some details of the area on your photo roll. Together with a nice photo of the environment, it can tell something more about how your children experienced it,” – Nienke Laan of nienkelaan

DO: Try New Angles

“I love thinking of ways to put the destination forward by ‘excusing ourselves’ from the frame and directing the viewer’s eye to the true point of interest!” – Laura of frugalforluxury.

“I try to get interesting angles, like shooting much higher or lower than you would naturally point your camera. Getting down low really helps showcase kids and see what is inspiring them from their angle.” findingsalas

DON’T:  Worry which Camera

“Take a good camera and learn how to use it properly. It doesn’t compare to a phone,” – Andrea Campbell of – ___reddirtwanderers___

“I use my phone for most of my pictures as its handy and small to carry. I find Lightroom a really good app to lighten up dark photos and add depth to the color of a pic if it needs it.”lapofthemapfishingaustralia

“I have only one piece of advice to fellow travelers: Leave your bulky DSLR at home and pack a compact, mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. They are small, light and deliver an excellent quality photo.” – Anna of bubuzufa

“And perhaps most importantly, I don’t worry about what kind of camera I use – I go to whatever is most convenient in the moment when I have an organic shot. I do have several cameras, but often find myself reaching for my cell phone because they are so powerful these days and are often found within arm’s length. Many of the photos on our feed are from our cell phones.” – findingsalas

DO:  Savor the Moment 

“My tip for taking photos as you travel is to not let the documenting of the experience take away from the actual experience! I try to snap away and take lots of pictures for a few minutes, then put the phone away for a while to really engage in what is happening with my family. I’ve also found that car trips are a good opportunity for going through the photos, editing and posting,” – Alyce Parker of aussie_coddiwomple

“I would recommend selecting and keeping only your great pictures. Keep only the best ones and store them in a place where you can easily access them, whether it’s your computer, on social media, or even better, print them and frame them or create a memory book!” – goflo_travel

“Take pictures of things or people you love – that always makes for the best photos!” – Nell Lewis of htolewis



Liliia deCos  – February 2020

ROAM Contributing Editor   


Originally from Ukraine and now based in Spain, Liliia has traveled literally across the world with her husband Jose and their two young daughters. Follow their intrepid walkabouts on ROAM and on bring_baby_abroad, and see Liliia’s amazing photos on Instagram at bring_baby_abroad or on ROAM where she won Best Family Photo of 2019 

© ROAM Family Travel 2020 – All rights reserved


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