When you go on vacation, the last thing you want to do is worry. Obviously, you are going to anyway. If you’re anything like me, your main concern is that one of your kids is going to get sick and you will spend part of your vacation in your hotel room cleaning up vomit and watching “Dora the Explorer” with a miserable, feverish child. This has happened to me only it was “The Wiggles.” Cue the Purel in the airport.

But I am talking about “photo anxiety.” How can you ensure you’ll wind up with enough evidence of your amazing trip while still enjoying yourself?

First, rely heavily on your smartphone. I use an iPhone.  You can take some really crisp images and you will have it on you anyway so you don’t need to stress.

My favorite time of day is just before sunset and that is also an awesome time light-wise to shoot. Most people are up in their rooms getting ready for dinner but I love spending that time on the beach and so do my kids. Here is an iPhone image of my girls playing in the surf. Try your hardest to get the horizon straight. I hate a crooked horizon.

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Another perk of using your smartphone: you might actually be in a picture or two. Your travel companion knows to use one too, right? If not, hand yours off to the waiter or a trustworthy-looking stranger and make sure someone documents your existence. My husband managed to get a really sweet shot of me and my baby on her first birthday. We are wrapped up in towels and I will never forget how deliciously snuggly and cozy she was. Now I have an image to remind me.

There were lots of silly moments over the course of our trip. Here’s my mom drinking a “vacation sized” margarita at dinner. Had to snap that one with my phone. (Sorry, mom. It’s true you didn’t drink it all.)

You can do some pretty advanced editing with your iPhone images if you are so inclined. Try out some apps that can do more than the regular Camera app that comes with the phone. I am loving PicTapGo right now—let’s you do a lot of customization really quickly. Your iPhone images are perfect for snapshots from your trip. If the lighting is good and it looks sharp, the images will look fine in a printed album. Just keep the photos on the small side or they may look grainy. The outdoor pictures will always look better than the indoor ones as you can see from the examples above.

Aside from these casual snaps, though, you probably want some special pictures from your vacation that will showcase how beautiful the place was and how beautiful your kids are. Because, face it, they are gorgeous. I don’t bring my professional camera because it’s too stressful to have to worry about traveling with it in the airport and trying to fit it in a hotel safe. I have a very old but perfectly serviceable Canon Rebel that I pair with an inexpensive, yet sharp lens (the 50mm 1.8—retails for about $100). This camera isn’t going to handle low-light situations or zoom in real close on a bird (why would I want to do that anyway?) but it’s going to be perfect for capturing outdoor images of my family.

To avoid stress, hassle, and, frankly, annoying my family members any more than I already do, I bust out the DSLR one or two times AT MOST over the course of the trip. I don’t know about you, but when I am on vacation I want to swim with my kids and watch them go down the waterslide, build sandcastles and chase the baby around the kiddie pool. I don’t want a big camera around my neck all the time. I was shocked at how many moms and dads were sitting on the sidelines so they could document the fun. Don’t do it. Get yourself into that pool and swim up to the bar.

Your best bet for beach pictures is to choose a day that’s cloudy but not rainy. Obviously you don’t want your camera to get wet. But the clouds will help you avoid harsh shadows on your subjects’ faces as well as unattractive squinting. If there are no cloudy days over the course of your vacation (poor you), aim to take your pictures just before sunrise (this is a cinch if you have early risers like I do) or the hour before sunset. The light will be soft and glowy and you will be able to snap away without a care.

I admit I procrastinated when we were in Mexico and we had a couple of days of rain at the end of the vacation. Our last day was on the sunny side but I hadn’t dusted off my camera yet so I brought it to the beach with us.

Below you'll see:

a) My parents teaching the baby to find her nose.

b) My big girl playing in the sand. Some photogs would edit out the sand in her hair and on her face but I love it au natural.

c) My middle daughter at the braid lady’s booth, waiting to have her hair braided. The light was beautiful and she was in all her tan, blonde-haired glory.

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