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I’m feeling a little old writing this introduction. I remember the days very well when you took a picture and didn’t see the actual photograph for days (or sometimes even weeks) later because the film had to be developed. It’s a wonder we got any decent photos from those days. In fact, the photo here is pretty typical of my childhood pics, I’m the one in the fetching 70’s shorts and top!

It’s so simple today to use the cameras on our mobile phones and with all the filters and extras, plus the fantastic quality they deliver it means no more bad pictures of our children, to embarrass them with when they’re all grown up.

No more endless waiting to see the precious moment captured, just clickety-click until that perfect shot is captured and delete all the rest.

But getting the family to stand around having endless shots taken when they're out having fun, especially when you’re out and about enjoying a Mini Adventure, is not very exciting for them.

So, we asked ace photographer Valerija Štramcar from AVAI Photography in Maribor for her top tips on how to capture effortless, natural and fun photographs of your family with just your phone whilst enjoying the great outdoors.


1. Firstly keep your phone handy. You don’t want to miss that perfect moment because you’re too busy delving into the depths of your handbag trying to find your phone. Keep it somewhere close like a jacket pocket, and have it on silent too, so you’re not distracted by it. After all, this is family time!

2. Buy a PopSocket.

A PopSocket gives you more to hold onto while you use your phone. Because the Popsocket is directly in the middle of the phone case, your fingers rest perfectly in place to hold the phone with ease leaving your thumb free to take the photo.

3. Take multiple shots. On some phones, you can hold down the shutter button to do this. Extra photos can easily be deleted. It’s better to have too many photos than miss out on that precious shot.

4. Lighting - Obviously when you’re outside there is plenty of light but direct sunlight can cast shadows everywhere. Instead, try to take pictures in the shade. Always consider lighting when taking a picture, you won’t regret it, it’s a key factor to get right. Practise taking shots in different lighting to understand it better.

5. Turn HDR Off - HDR (High Dynamic Range) is hard to get right and can make a picture look unnatural and overdone. HDR is where many different exposures of the same photo are taken. It then puts them together in one photo with lots of details. It’s not the best look for a family photo.

6. It’s not a good result when the subject of the photo is doing a totally forced smile. You know what works best for your own family to get them smiling and laughing naturally. Being silly – pulling faces, saying silly things, making noises, getting them to dance or pretending to do or be something that captures their imagination is just some of the ways to get that beautiful smile without having to resort to getting them to say “cheese”!

7. Try and take some sneaky snapshots of your kids for that natural photo. This a particularly good tip for camera-shy kids.

8. Try and take as many photos as possible of your children at their eye level. This will mean bending down, but that just adds to the fun!

9. A great variation to a photo is to make one person the star of the shot. Get everyone else in the shot to look towards or at your ‘star’, making them the focus of the group.

10. Avoid using the zoom where possible and instead physically get up close. It produces a much more engaging shot. Also, try taking a few shots at varying distances to see what a difference it makes.

11. When taking family shots, don’t forget to get some with yourself in the picture! Even if you dislike photos of yourself, it’s important that you get some pictures with your family. They’ll want to remember those moments when they get older – and you were there too. Plus, by being comfortable in front of the camera (or just pretending to be), you help teach your children to have higher self-esteem and you reduce potential body image issues.

12. Have you mastered the art of taking selfies? The most flattering selfie shots (if you are not practised in the art!) can be achieved by pointing the camera downward. Put the phone slightly higher than your face, arm straight out and the phone angled down towards you - perfect!

Hopefully, these tips will enable you to take some top photos and provide a special reminder of precious memories. We’d love to see some examples like the ones in our Gallery when you’re out with your family doing a Mini Adventure.

And having all these tips doesn’t mean that you can’t treat your family to a photo session with a professional, like Valerija, when you want something really special to hang up on the wall to display with pride, like the examples of her work below.

You can find out more about Valerija and AVAI Photography here.


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