5 Travel Photography Tips for Parents
- Marianne Stenger
- 25th April 2022
Packing light is always a good idea, but it’s particularly important when travelling with kids. Since you'll be dealing with things like carriers and extra bags filled with snacks and diapers, the last thing you want is to be weighed down by photography gear you may not even use.
Lightweight zoom lenses are a good option for family travel photography, because you’ll be able to shoot portraits, landscapes and everything in between. A lightweight collapsible tripod is also a good idea, because it’s easy to pack away when not in use. It will come in handy for lowlight photography as well as group self-portraits. Furthermore, if you’re accustomed to trekking to remote locations for your photography, you may need to temporarily adjust your strategy.
Even if taking photos is something you normally do alone, when travelling as a family it’s important to adjust your approach and find a way to involve everyone.
Kids will quickly become bored and unmanageable if you’re paying more attention to your camera than you are to them, so try to make your photography more of a group activity. Some examples of how to do this include having them pose for photos in front of landmarks of their choosing, asking them to provide suggestions for what you should photograph next, and periodically showing them some of the photos you’ve taken to get their opinion.
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If your kids are already a bit older, another way to involve them is to give them their own camera to experiment with. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it could be anything from a basic point and shoot camera to an old mobile phone you no longer use.
Kids will appreciate what you’re doing a lot more once they’ve had a chance to try it for themselves. You might be surprised how quickly a child can go from being bored while they wait for you to finish taking pictures to actively joining you in finding the perfect angles and lighting.
You can even make up photography assignments to keep them engaged. For instance, you could assign them a particular colour to photograph, or ask them to take photos that tell the story of their holiday. These can be turned into a simple photo book once you get home.
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If there are things you’d like to photograph but find it difficult to do so with kids in tow, see if you can head out with your camera early in the morning while they're still fast asleep or enjoying their breakfast. Early mornings also happen to be the best time of day for photography, because the light is soft and golden, and there are generally fewer tourists around.
Of course, this will only work if you’re travelling with another adult who is willing to stay back with the kids while you slip out with your camera. But it’s worth trying to plan at least one or two mornings during your holiday where you get up before the sun rises and photograph some of your own favourite things.
The most important thing to keep in mind when travelling with kids is that things probably won’t go entirely according to plan. Someone might unexpectedly feel sick or tired or you might discover a fun activity you were previously unaware of. With this in mind, it’s always best to go into your holidays with an open mind and be as flexible as possible with your travel plans.
Of course, there are also times when planning ahead can help things run more smoothly. For instance, if you have an important photo shoot you’d like to fit in, planning it for a time when you know the kids will be well-rested and fed will give you more time to shoot before they start feeling tired, bored or hungry. So while planning some activities or outings in advance can be helpful, it’s also important to be prepared to go with the flow and adjust your plans if circumstances change.
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