Balance the Family Vacation and Photography

How to juggle prime photo time with the family's vacation chaos
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As readers of Outdoor Photographer, I’m sure many of you struggle with how to balance your photography while spending time with the family during the one big vacation you get a year. Many budding photographers use family vacation time as an opportunity to add stunning images to their files. New locations translate to new and different images. In a perfect world, spouse A, spouse B, and and all the kids are avid photographers. Every minute of every day is spent hunting down the perfect image that captures the essence and grandeur of where you visit. But more than likely, the reality is spouse A is the photographer, spouse B wants to kick back and relax, and the kids have had so many pictures taken of them by spouse A, the last thing they want to see is a camera. So how does one juggle prime photo time, family happiness, romantic sunset dinners, and keep the kids happy all at the same time?

MORNING LIGHT: As photographers, we know that sunrise provides warm tones, soft light, and opportunities to see locations without crowds. All these factors dictate the need to shoot at this time. We also know that the kids and spouse B like to sleep in while on vacation. With this in mind, work out a plan where you shoot in the AM and agree to be back at the motel by an agreed upon time to do the family thing around the pool, to sight see, visit the museum, or any other choice made by the non photographers. I encourage you to suggest sight seeing as it creates an the opportunity to scout locations for other AM shoots.

POINT AND SHOOT: Buy spouse B and the kids an inexpensive point and shoot digital for their exclusive use. Encourage them to take pictures of each other having fun during the day. Get involved with their picture taking and show your enthusiasm. At some point during the vacation, suggest they come along with you on one of your shoots to show them how you work. Let them take pictures by your side. It may trigger photographic enthusiasm on their end when they see how much more beautiful the location is at sunrise.

SUNSET DEBATE: Sunset light is gorgeous. It just so happens that it coincides with dinner time. As dinner time means family time, something has to give. To keep the peace, set up a schedule and rotate family nights and photo nights. If your family is understanding, keep the schedule loose and try to base it on the weather. Think about the option of having a picnic dinner at a prime sunset location. The bottom line is to make sure you have fun with your family while taking advantage of every photo opportunity you get.

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3 Comments

    I have been traveling the country with my daughter for years! Since she was one! She has seen both coasts, mountains, deserts, forests, canyons and been in 18 states in her 12 years. She is my inspiration to see new things and revisit familiar ones. She has a much better understanding of our nation than kids who only go to Disney!

    I shoot for a minimum ratio of 2/3rds MY photo time and 1/3 OUR photo time. The closer I get to 50-50 the happier for all. Spouse B has a 60D and S90, while I have a 7D and G12 (sort of 2/3rds – 1/3rd there, too 😉

    My grandson inherited a Minolta str101 and after running him through the basics, has had a grand time shooting with me and my srt from California to Florida to Tennessee. My wife shoot digital with me as well. At times there has been a bit of time juggling and the best times are comparing shots!

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