10 Tips for Capturing Perfect Family Videos

| Originally posted on HEYMAMA |

Since starting Smitten Films 5 years ago, I have had the privilege of poring over countless hours of pictures and videos from our clients’ travel footage shot all over the world. Between my experience at work and my personal experience traveling with my 3 kids, I’ve learned the best ways to capture amazing travel footage on your family vacations that you will treasure forever.

When we received the footage of Nancy’s trip to Portugal, I was amazed – she instinctively had done pretty much everything I recommend to clients on a regular basis. As a result, she took an amazing and varied amount of footage, from which we were able to create an awesome film, commemorating her special family trip to Portugal. Since you may feel overwhelmed by the very thought of getting started, we’re here to tell you that it’s as easy as following the ten steps below. These are the official Smitten Films travel tips to capturing amazing vacation footage on your family travels.

1. Location.

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Take “establishing shots” to get a sense of your location and how it’s different from your everyday life. You planned, prepared, and suffered through a long plane ride to get here – now make sure you capture how it’s different from home so that when you look back on your footage, you are instantly transported to the majestic plazas and that magical time.

2. Let your kids be kids.

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Just in a different setting. We loved that the footage we received didn’t feel forced and the kids were doing things they probably would have already been doing – skipping, running, twirling, etc. So much of what was captured is just them in their element, except with a beautiful background.

3. Give someone else your phone for 10 minutes a day.

You will 1) actually get to be in the picture or video for once; 2) allow your kids to feel like they are part of this important story telling mission and; 3) give your kids something to look forward to every day (perhaps a treat for behaving well during a museum visit!). Some of the best footage from Nancy’s trip was captured by her daughter, and amazingly, her husband. Hello Instagram Husband extraordinaire!

4. Don’t assume that anything is too mundane.

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Walking on the streets of another country is exciting just because, well, you’re in another country! You will appreciate the simple things – strolling hand in hand down a cobblestone street in a charming city – SO MUCH once you are no longer there.

5. Even jet lag can be beautiful.

I absolutely LOVE this picture of the kids, fresh off the plane, and ready to explore.

6. Morning culture + afternoon fun.

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I have many friends who travel extensively and who swear by this rule: do something for the adults in the morning (culture) and something for the kids in the afternoon (playing in the hotel pool) so that you are doing the things they (potentially) enjoy the least when they are the most rested and happy. The same rule applies to taking family travel photos – always shoot more in the morning or at the beginning of a particular adventure to ensure that the kids are at their most energized and receptive.

7. Capture what makes traveling special.

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We love how the footage did an amazing job of capturing the beauty of exploring a new city with kids – climbing to dizzying heights, gazing around in wonderment, interacting with a different environment, etc.

8. Don’t forget shots of the actual traveling.

Airports, airplanes, cars, etc. It’s miserable at the time, but you’ll look back on it years later and laugh – I promise!

9. Focus on video.

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You want to remember the sound of the Atlantic crashing behind you as you ran on the beach with your son – and only video can do that.

10. These remaining tips apply not only to family vacations, but also to your everyday life:


  • When in doubt, pick up your phone and shoot. Don’t worry about how much footage you’re shooting – you’ll never regret the pictures and videos you did take; you’ll only regret the ones you didn’t take. Too much footage is a good thing, and if you feel terrified and overwhelmed by that statement, companies like Smitten can help you bring order to the chaos. Promise.


  • Shoot your footage horizontally, not vertically. If you shoot vertically and then want to view it on a computer or TV later on, you will be left with your footage in the middle of the screen and black space on either side of it.


  • Don’t forget to do something with all the footage you take. Here are the 3 things I do after every vacation: 1) of course, commission a Smitten Film to highlight it; 2) print out a favorite picture or two from Artifact Uprising (heymama members get a special perk!); and 3) bookmark my favorite 10 pictures to go into my annual family photo book.


Following these foolproof steps, Nancy’s Smitten Film turned out pretty great!

Relive. Replay. Repeat.

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