How to Take Better Travel Photos: An Interview with Family Photographer Justine Knight

How to Take Better Travel Photos: An Interview with Family Photographer Justine Knight

I am very pleased to have on the blog today the talented photographer Justine Knight! Justine is a family and portrait photographer in Westchester, New York. She and her family travel quite a bit, often times to far flung places, so I thought she would be the perfect person to provide some insight into some useful tips on travel photos. I know we all, myself included, could use some advice on how to best capture those precious family vacation moments in photos!

Family photographer Justine Knight

Below is my interview with Justine where I’ve asked her some questions on how to take great photos while traveling. I love Justine’s work, and think you will too (just look at her photos!), and am so glad she can share her knowledge with us all. Justine loves to photograph families the way she photographs her own family – relaxed and being their own (sometimes crazy) selves. From timeless portraits to kids rolling around in the grass with a dog, she loves to photograph it all!

Where are some places you and your family have traveled? What have been some favorite vacations?

We LOVE to travel!! I am Australian and my husband is South African so we spend a few weeks each year travelling to either country. We also love exploring the US.

Over the last few years, we have been to Australia, South Africa, the UK, France, Turks & Caicos, St Martins, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington DC.

The more we travel, the longer our list of places that we want to go to next is!!

Our next trip over the summer is to Utah for a family biking and camping trip in Canyonland.

Mountains and wildlife in South Africa.

Which camera do you travel with most of the time and why?

I always carry too much camera gear and recently I have realized that I don’t need to carry it all! On a trip to South Africa earlier this year, I principally used my film camera and my iphone. I love shooting film for my family as it looks beautiful and ensures that I don’t take too many photos as I have to pay for every photo to be developed!

I also always carry my iphone. The quality is amazing and is so effortless to take great photos without carrying lots of gear around. It also makes sharing images with family and friends so quick and easy.

Playing in the water in Turks and Caicos

Most people use their phones to take photos while traveling because they’re easy and compact – do you have any phone camera tips?

  1. As with all cameras, looking at the light within the environment you are photographing can make a huge difference to your images. Take a minute to look around you and look at the direction of the light. Sometimes moving slightly left or right of your subject can really improve the way you utilize light on your subject.
  2. Take some steps back and use more of the environment around your subject to tell the story. This is so important when on vacation – as much as I love a nice portrait, capturing your family within these different surroundings really adds visual interest.
  3. Tapping on the screen to set the exposure on your subject makes a huge difference to your photos.
  4.  Use some of the really fun app editing tools – I love using VSCO to edit my photos on my              iPhone.

Wading in the ocean on the beach.

Many of us travel to the beach, which can be a very difficult place to take photos due to the sun reflection off the sand and water. Any tricks?

The most perfect times at the beach are sunrise and sunset in terms of light but this is not always practical when you have kids. Most days we are not at the beach at these times so you need to embrace more tricky lighting conditions.

Use the reflections to your advantage! If your subject has the sun behind them, use the sand or water as a giant reflector to reflect the light back on your subject.

Try not to have your subject facing the sun when you are taking their photo. Eyes will be squinty and shadows can be harsh. Engage your subject in an activity so they are not staring into the sun.

Beach walk in Maine.

What has been your favorite place/ landscape to take photos with or without the kids, and why?

I love the beach. It’s my happy place as I love the open space and the water.

What is the most important advice you can give to families who want to capture those perfect family vacation photos?

Perfection is overated!

Enjoy your time with your family BUT the most important thing for creating memories for your family is to get those photos off your hard drive and iphone and PRINT them! Make prints, make a photo book! You will be amazed at how much you and your family will enjoy looking at these images over the years if they are printed.

Someone once told me that a photo does not exist unless you can hold it in your hand!

My favorite company to make vacation photo albums is with Blurb. The quality is amazing and the software easy to use.

Other photo album companies include Artifact Uprising, Shutterfly and Chatbooks.

Car driving by in Cuba.

Thank you for joining us Justine, such helpful tips! I particularly like the last piece of advice about the albums because I think that is something most of us are guilty of – we take a ton of photos, but then, what about the albums? It’s so easy to procrastinate. Which is why I look forward to having Justine on the blog again with a dedicated post about making family vacation albums. So look out for that post, coming soon!

You can see more of Justine’s work on her website at and/or on Instagram at @jsknight.

To read about more travel tips see my posts:

A Must-Have Packing Hack by Lifestyle Designer Lorri Dyner

fifi + hop’s Top Packing Tips and Checklist

The Power of Group Travel

Luggage Revamped (And Deeper Thoughts)

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Tips on how to take great travel photos by photographer Justine Knight.



  1. May 25, 2017 / 11:59 am

    I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing all this great information with the rest of us! I’ve tried all these photo companies and they’re great, but I LOVE Mpix books the most!!

    • May 29, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      Good to know – thanks! Hope you had a great weekend!

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