Five Tips On Balancing Photography And Family Trips
Have you ever gone on a family trip expecting to take great pictures only to discover that the camera either stayed in the bag or that you'll be sleeping outside the tent with the bears?
Or let me put this differently when you are a photographer going on a trip with the family can be a super cool experience. It can also be a nerve wrecking adventure both for you and your family if not handled correctly.
Here is what I have learned after years of traveling with both my family and my camera. Would love to hear your tips on the comments.
1. Set Expectations
While This is probably true for anything in life, it is especially true if your partner or family are not photographers. And it does not matter on how many trips you've gone together before.
If you are anxious to try that new slave flash built your significant other is concerned with handling three kids, trust me, that flash is not going to leave the box.
How much gear are you planning on taking, who will carry the photo gear? (and by implication who will carry the rest of the stuff). Will everyone actually have the time and patience to wait until you deploy a tripod? exchange lenses? will they be ready to pose for you?
If you bring along new stuff that you want to test, discuss that and make sure that you can allocate the time for testing. If you're gonna need your kid to pose / wife to hold a light stand / husband to play sitter make sure you discuss this.
In my experience it is best to discuss all this before you actually go in the car and not when you arrive on location and start the trip. Sometimes it can be done and the car will carry the gear, you'll have plenty on of shooting time during the camp out and the kids will look forward to posing. But not always. Sometimes, you'll be required to set the camera aside and travel like the rest of the bunch.
2. Plan Your Gear
Think well about each piece of gear you plan to carry. If there is a lot of walking, and you'll be packed with photo gear, you won't be able to help with the rest of the bags.
If, on the other hand you'll spend more of the time in the car or in camp, you can feel free to pack a ton.
Also consider what type of gear to bring, as a photographer it is tempting to bring the big guns, but sometimes it's best to bring just a camera and one lens. Or a little camera like an Olympus PEN or a canon G12. As weird as this may seem smaller camera means loess setup and allows you to "snap", which sometimes increase the chances of using it.
Even with "no gear' there is always time for a quick smiling snap.
3. It's All About Timing
There are three main photographing modes when traveling and balancing those within a family is an art:
- Photowalk mode: where you have a camera in hand and you're scouting for frames. This can be done with family if there are no deadlines to meet and it's is the leisure part of the trip.
- Photographer mode: this is where you are putting the trip (and family) aside and shooting with full intent. Maybe you brought a strobe, or need to setup a tripod, or want the kids/wife/husband to play model. It's the kind of thing you don't just "jump in" to. See clause 1.
- Camera in bag: Well, the camera does not have to actually be in the bag, but photograph you take cannot delay the rest of the folks.
Here we had plenty of time as we were taking a rest by a tree, while everyone were eating I set up a nastyclamp and a strobe on the big tree near where we sat.
4. Technique And Equipment Vs. Capturing The Moment
This one is always a big question, how do you shoot? do you make everyone pose while you set up the lights or take candid photographs?
Do you hectically switch lenses or stick with what's ever on there and make sure you use it well.
As with almost everything on this post, the key here is to chat with your partners. If you're gonna put up (voice activated) light stands try and do it when there is enough time and everybody's OK with a long pause.
I often bring a small collapsible reflector since it is very quick to deploy. (On the down side, you need at least one helper for this).
For the following image, no preparations were made, my daughter just ran through the fields.
5. You Are There To Have Fun
Most importantly, if your family did not hire you to shoot the trip, you are there to have fun. A good trip experience is worth more than any picture. ( I wonder if I'm alone on this thought).
P.S. thanks for everybody who are asking and mailing about Neta. She is doing great and getting bigger by the day. Here she is at about 4.3 kilos: