How to take photos on a day out

My kids are older now – 12 and 14 – and although I still love photographing them, they are not as keen as they used to be (wild understatement – Abii acts like a vampire being shown a crucifix when I point the camera at her). So I concentrate more on what’s around me when we’re out – landscapes, animals, food and I particularly like finding little details that sum up where we are. So, if you have young children and were looking for some tips on how to photograph them, please don’t be too disappointed and perhaps you like my blog on taking great shots with a compact camera, as there’s some great advice there. Otherwise read on to see how to take photos on a day out.

I did get a few shots of my two – each shot has a few comments about how I got it.


To get these i had to be super fast and catch Abii unawares when she was laughing. Always have your camera at the ready and on a sunny day with great light you could put it on Auto and just go for it. Just remember that portraits are easier in the shade, if you want to avoid harsh contrasts of shadow and bright areas.



Sam is usually a star and will pose for me. I wanted to give a sense of our day out, so including the castle turret tells you where we were and his lolly tells you he’s enjoying himself! Note that he’s not in the centre, but off to one side so that we can see the view. In bright sunshine consider using the flash when photographing people, to fill in the harsh shadows. I got away with it here because my camera’s quite clever!


Whatever type of camera you have, phone, compact, bridge or SLR, then you can get great shots of scenery on a sunny day out. Most things are in your favour – it’s bright with lots of light, the sky is blue and everything looks sparkly and gorgeous! But if you want to avoid the mundane shots that everyone takes, that make you think “so what, why did I bother?” when you look at them later, you need to bear a few things in mind:

  • Always have a focal point – what do you want people to look at in the shot. Try to include something interesting that will draw people’s eye. And put it somewhere important in the frame – see next point!
  • To improve your composition imagine overlaying a noughts and crosses grid over your picture. Many cameras will let you display a grid on the LCD screen to help with this. Now try to place your point of focus on one of the lines instead of in the centre of the photo. Put the horizon on one of the horizontal lines. And make sure it’s straight! Nothing spoils a lovely landscape more than a sloping horizon.

seaside photography

  • Look for interesting details that really tell a story of where you are. Crop in close and draw the eye to exactly what you want people to see.
  • Look for a way to frame the view – like archways, gates, gaps in walls. It draws the eye to the view but also gives a sense of place too.


Conwy Castle


  • Always be aware of where the sun is. If you want lovely blue skies, you need the sun to be behind you as the sky in front of you will be bluest. The nearer you get to where the sun is, the paler and whiter the sky appears in photographs.
  • When you find something you want to photograph, like this wrecked and burnt out boat, check it out from a few different angles and try different shots. And take shots close up as well as at a distance, I love the peeling old paint on the hull and the way I used the prow (or bow?) of the boat just on the edge of the view of the sea.



I like to think that someone could look at my photographs and know exactly where we were and what sort of day out we had. The pictures should tell a story and demand attention.

As a last point, I took about 50 photographs on the day out and I was ruthless about deleting the ones that were “so what” or poor composition. Learn how to cast a critical eye over your own photographs. Would you print it out, does it make you feel proud, does it make you smile? Will it always make you remember how you felt that day? If not, delete it!


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6 Responses to How to take photos on a day out

  1. Becs April 19, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    I do love your pictures Jane.

    We were in Conwy on the same day as you and had a thoroughly lovely time. Our children love crabbing and I can sit for hours just watching the world go by as they amuse themselves.

    The tips that you provide for how you compose your images is great, you have doe much knowledge and so generously share. Thank you

    • Jane Burkinshaw April 20, 2015 at 7:44 am #

      Hi Becs – we obviously have the same great taste in days out! We were unsuccessful with crabbing, tide was too fast moving, but beautiful day out. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Julia April 20, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    I have just found your blog and your comment about your daughter made me laught out loud! Mine is 16 and has exactly the same reaction when I point the lens at her unyet my son at nearly 14 is still very accommodating! Beautiful shots of Conwy.

  3. Wendy ryan May 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    Hey I’m getting more computer literate! Love the pictures , great advise , you make it look so easy ,trying to catch my kids unawares seems an impossible task, why are boys more accommodating than girls ! The dog is so much more compliant!

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