Healthy, strong family relationships are foundational to young people’s growth, learning, and well-being.
These relationships build strong social and emotional strengths that kids use throughout their lives.
But great family relationships don’t just happen..
Welcome to My Discovery Destination!
Discovery Family Adventures
where your family can find plenty of opportunities to
The Discovery Family Adventures provide ideas, activities, and experiences to help build strong family relationships.
Our goal is to strengthen family relationships to help kids be and become their best selves
and to support parents in raising happy, successful, resilient kids in an exciting,
but sometimes turbulent and dangerous world.
Choose from the Adventures listed below
(or design your own family adventure!)
GOAL: Learn basic photography skills
Participate in a family photo shoot (professional or done by family), and learn some new photography tips.
A fun way to reward completion of this Adventure is to display favorite photos. Here are some ideas:
Display the photos family members take around the house
Praise each family member's work. Be honest and specific.
Invite the kids to take photos for birthday and Thank You cards.
A fun photo frame would be a great way to reward kids for their growing photography skills.
Show off family members' photos by sharing on social media, showing grandma and grandpa or other family members, and mentioning it in conversations where appropriate.
If your budget allows you could reward the family with a digital photo frame to display and show off everyone's photos on a rotating basis. This will create many more fun family times as you watch the pictures cycle through on the frame and talk about the day the pictures were taken.
Any time of year is a great time for family pictures--the holidays, snowy winter backgrounds, the beauty and freshness of Spring - all of the fun activities and vacations of summer - and the incredible Fall foliage. So in other words, ANY TIME is a great time for family photos.
For this Adventure you are going to schedule and enjoy a fun, family photo shoot. You don't have to use a professional (although you certainly can if you want to!). However, the goal is to enjoy some fun as a family AND let everyone learn some photo taking tips, as well as practice.
No fancy equipment is needed for this photo shoot. Your cellphones are the tool you will be using most often for photos, so take this time to learn what features they have and how to use them.
The goal of this family photo shoot is to give everyone a chance to practice their photography skills, and learn new ones. Take time to review the tips below so everyone has a good feel for basic photography, and then take turns letting family members capture each other.
Review the first few photos taken by each child and give feedback, but be sure that it stays positive and upbeat. Point out what you like about the photo and then make some suggestions to implement in the next set of photos. You may even have one parent stay with the child and give feedback as they take the photos, especially with younger kids.
If you choose to use a professional photographer let them know that this will be a little different shoot than what they are used to, because the goal is for them to TEACH your family some tips and tricks about taking photos, and to also give family members a chance to practice.
Whether each member of the family is a beginner or a budding photographer, be sure that everyone gets an opportunity to be both the photographer and the photographed.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Here are some tips to get you started, whether you are using a professional photographer or doing your own:
Choose your clothing carefully
Choose your clothing in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive. What do your dream family photos look like? Are they soft and elegant? Choose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think cream, very soft pastels, oatmeal, light brown, tan, gray, and slate blue. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents. Add fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. to add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images. Of course, add seasonal and holiday props to add that holiday flair!
Make sure everyone is rested and well fed! (Yes- that means the BIG people, too!)
Schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime, as in NOT during it! The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise. If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer. Good photographers will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes. Make sure all tummies are full for a happier, less stressful experience. If your plan is to have a big meal after the shoot, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack right before.
Leave Plenty of Time to Get Ready
Moms are often rushing around before a photo shoot, making sure that their family is dressed and ready. Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. If you feel rushed and disorganized as you start the shoot, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized experience. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to start shooting.
Dads (and Moms!)-- be cheerful participants!
Dads and Moms, please cheerfully participate. I know that many parents dread the family photo session, but please understand how important capturing your family is. These images will be left as a legacy when your children are grown, with families of their own some day. Family photos are treasured forever and they are so important. Please, please, please… cheerfully participate in your family photo session and enjoy being together with your family and creating and capturing this wonderful time in your family history. Once you see your happy children and amazing photographs, you will be glad that you gave this time to your family.
Have FUN with your family
Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and swing them around. Parents, give each other a sweet kiss on the check. Tell your children how much you love them and appreciate them for being part of your family. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Embrace. Kiss. Snuggle. Play. Doing these things will allow the photographer (whoever the photographer is at the moment) to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. Show your true family beauty so that whoever is the photographer has the opportunity to capture your love through the lens.
Bring an activity to keep everyone occupied
Incorporate an activity that the family loves to do together. This gives everyone something to do with their hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your faces. Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Is your favorite dessert ice cream? Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session… or even get some photos with the local ice cream truck. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.
Remember that not everyone has to be looking at the camera at the same time, or even at all!
The best photographs are often the ones where everyone is engaged or interacting with each other. If you are engaged as a family and loving on each other, your eyes will be on your family members and your smile with be natural. These are the photographs that you will cherish most because they capture your family connection and your love.
Use gridlines to balance your shot
One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera's gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone's camera that are based on the "rule of thirds" -- a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.
According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.
To switch the grid on ...
iPhone: Go to "Settings," choose "Photos & Camera," and switch "Grid" on.
Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to "Settings," scroll down and switch the "grid lines" option to "on."
Use the Rule of Thirds without grid lines
If you want to take pictures that have a “wow” factor built in them, the Rule of Thirds is the composition secret you need to take advantage of! This rule helps you take eye-catching pictures by using one of the most effective rules of composition. Imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the center square, but placing the subject off-center at one of the intersecting points of the imaginary lines will often create a more aesthetically composed photograph. When a photograph is composed using the rule of thirds the eyes will wander the frame. A picture composed using the rule of thirds is usually more pleasing to the eye.
Set your camera's focus
Today's phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view. If you're taking a photo of something in motion, for example, it can be difficult for your camera to follow this subject and refocus as needed. Tap the screen to correct your phone camera's focus just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.
Embrace negative space
"Negative space" simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image --and it can take a photo from "good" to "great." When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. And what does negative space looks like? It's often a large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall
Find different perspectives
Taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable since it tends to create an illusion of depth or height with the subjects. It also makes the image stand out, since most mobile photos are taken either straight -on or from a bird's eye view. Try taking a photo directly upward and playing with the sky as negative space, like in the first photo below. Or, you can try taking it at a slight downward angle. NOTE: If you take a photo and find the perspective is a little askew or tilted, use the SKRWT photo editing app to make the lines look clean and square.
Play with reflections
There's something so idyllic about seeing the sky reflected in a body of water. There's a reason why we love seeing that -- our eyes are drawn to reflections. So look for opportunities to play with them in photos. There are plenty of out-of-the-box places to find reflections -- puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, drinking glasses, and metallic surfaces are just a few.
Use leading lines
In some photos, there's a line that draws the viewer's eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or circulinear -- think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods. Leading lines are great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and can make your photo look purposefully designed -- even if you just happened to come upon a really cool shape by accident.
Look for symmetry
Symmetry can be defined as "a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance." And pictures that contain symmetry can be incredibly pleasing to the eye -- it's also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo. In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other. That's a bit different than reflections -- symmetry can be found out and about "in the wild." Remember -- use those gridlines from tip #1 to line everything up perfectly.
Play around with color blocking
Isn't it cool when an entire photo is black and white, except for a single object? It turns out that yes, indeed, there are apps for that. One of our favorites is Touch Color -- an app that automatically converts a picture to grayscale and lets you fill in the parts you want to colorize. Color blocking can help to highlight the elements of a photo that you want to stand out, like a plant or something else with a bold hue. It achieves a similar goal as negative space, in that it can help a single subject stand out -- but with color blocking, the photo's other elements remain intact for a cohesive image.
Avoid zooming in
When you take a photo from a distance, it's tempting to zoom in on something specific you're trying to capture. But it's actually better not to zoom in -- doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated. Instead, try to get closer to your subject -- or take the photo from a default distance, and crop it later on. That way, you won't compromise quality, and it's easier to play around or optimize a larger image.
Capture small details
You may have heard the phrase, "It's the little things." Sometimes, that also applies to photos. Close-up images that capture small, intricate, and delicate details can make for really compelling visual content. Keep an eye out for textures and patterns like peeling paint, a gravel road, or a tile tabletop.
Use natural light
It's hard to find a great smartphone photo that was taken with a flash. Most of the time, they make a photo look overexposed, negatively altering colors and making human subjects look washed out. Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find, even after dark. This gives you a chance to play with shadows or create a silhouette with other ambient sources of light, like traffic and surrounding buildings.
Set your camera app's exposure manually
Another mobile camera feature you'll want to set manually is your exposure. Tapping your screen when your phone's camera is on doesn't just refocus the lens on a new subject -- it also automatically adjusts how much light the camera lets in. This, too, won't always look just right. It's best to adjust it by hand. To change your mobile camera's exposure by hand, open your camera app and tap the screen. When you see the lens refocus, you'll see a very small sun icon and a vertical scale. Slowly swipe your finger up and down this scale to adjust the light level.
Avoid Camera Shake
Here are some ways to avoid camera blur. First, you need to learn how to hold your camera correctly; use both hands, one around the body and one around the lens and hold the camera close to your body for support. Also, for handheld shooting, make sure that you are using a shutter speed that is appropriate for your lens’ focal length. If you’re shutter speed is too slow, any unintentional movement of the camera will result in your entire photograph coming out blurry. Use a tripod or monopod whenever possible.
Create a Sense of Depth
When photographing landscapes, it helps to create a sense of depth, in other words, make the viewer feel like they are there. Use a wide-angle lens for a panoramic view and a small aperture of f/16 or smaller to keep the foreground and background sharp. Placing an object or person in the foreground helps give a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is.
Use Simple Backgrounds
The simple approach is usually the best in digital photography, and you have to decide what needs to be in the shot, while not including anything that is a distraction. If possible, choose a plain background – in other words, neutral colors and simple patterns. You want the eye to be drawn to the focal point of the image rather than a patch of color or an odd building in the background. This is especially vital in a shot where the model is placed off center.
Posed photos can be great for the sake of memories -- happy moments with friends, family, or the occasional run-in with a celebrity. But sometimes, candid shots of people doing things, or people with people, can be far more interesting. That's because candid photos are better able to effectively capture the emotion and essence of a moment. One of the best ways to capture this kind of shot is to just take as many photos as possible. You'll have more to choose from, and the best photos often happen when the "stars align," so to speak, in a single moment -- everyone's eyes are open, one person is tilting their head just so, and you finally got a shot of your chronically closed-lip friend smiling with his teeth.
Composition is a huge part of what makes a photo great, but so is the photo's subject. Some of the most delightful and remarkable photos come out of cool, unique ideas. Images are more effective than text at evoking emotion from your viewers -- that often means getting your photos to say something. Try thinking outside of the box when it comes to what you're capturing -- your viewers could be pleasantly surprised by a cool or unexpected subject.
Make 'em laugh
Speaking of evoking emotion, sometimes the most memorable photos are the ones that make us giggle. Not only do you want to make those in the photo laugh, but If you can make your audience that will be viewing the photos later laugh, they're likely to enjoy your photo.
Clean your phone's lens
A smartphone camera might be more convenient to carry around than a full-fledged photojournalist's camera, but it comes at the cost of protection. Your phone is usually in your pocket or your bag when you're out of the house. All the while, the device's camera lens is collecting all kinds of dust and lint. Be sure to clean this lens with a soft handkerchief before taking a photo. You might not be able to tell just how dirty the lens was until you start editing your picture, and making sure the lens is crystal clear before taking a shot can keep you from starting from scratch.
Share your favorite picture from your photo shoot on your social media sites with the hashtags #familyphoto and #MyDiscoveryDestination
by Family Photo Shoot
Sponsored by Wattson and My Discovery Destination!
The mission of My Discovery Destination! and the Discovery Family program is to STRENGTHEN FAMILIES and BUILD CHARACTER through providing opportunities for families to enjoy FREE family experiences so they can build strong bonds and CREATE and CAPTURE memories.
Check back often as we will post new Adventures every week
Not sure how the Discovery Family Program works?
Discovery Family Program How-To Visual
My Discovery Destination! Adventures
Sponsored by My Discovery Destination! and local businesses and organizations in your community
for the purpose of
STRENGTHENING FAMILIES and BUILDING CHARACTER.