{Mentor Mondays} Photographing a Vacation

GREAT! Kids go back to school last week, and NOW you give me Vacation-photo tips??

True, I'm late to the game with this one, but thankfully - this series of tips can be utilized year-round! Enjoy:

Let's start sequentially, shall we?? Up first: the Hotel Room.

Yes. I skipped the travel part. Back-seat "Are we there yet!?" meltdowns and the stress of traffic (which around these parts almost always includes the hellacious experience of I95)  does not a keepsake-photo make.

So, why the hotel room? 

  • It's clean. And, let's be honest, it won't be for long. Seize this moment to utilize it as a studio! 
  • It's bright. Most hotel rooms have great big windows, and lucky for you, window light is just about the most flattering natural source of light there is. No need to backlight here! And it's a great chance to capture big beautiful sparkly eyes.
  • Big deal, it's still just a hotel room! Is it? Or is it the pinnacle of vacation anticipation?  You're out of the CAR/PLANE/TRAIN/HOTAIR BALLOON, which means the tours, the fun, the food (OH THE FOOD!) are within your reach. Smiles abound! In a beautifully decorated, bright, clean room, void of ugly distracting backgrounds. Snap away, friends!

Someone's happy to be free from his car seat! 

Someone's happy to be free from his car seat! 

Context

For all that a hotel room has to offer, it will NOT remind you of where you are vacationing. Be sure to snap a few scenery shots, if for no other reason than to provide context for your other photos!

Don't forget the view! Baltimore Inner Harbor from our hotel room.

Don't forget the view! Baltimore Inner Harbor from our hotel room.

Scale

This is most important, I think, with young kids. They grow so fast, and their size really dictates the kind of relationship they'll have with this new world they've been dropped into for vacation. Next year they'll be that much bigger, and that much more independent, and this world won't seem quite so large anymore. Zoom out. Way out. And snap at least one shot that properly reflects their size in relation to their environment.  

Big harbor. Iiiitty bitty toddler.

Big harbor. Iiiitty bitty toddler.

Don't be intimidated.

Let's face it. Despite everything we do to get a cooperative shot of our kids,  sometimes they're just not having it. You may not get the big authentic grin shot you'd like, but a little flexibility in your expectations can still yield a frame-worthy snap of a memory-in-the-making. Miss K was up well past her bedtime, and was what I lovingly call "a little crank". But watching the sunset over the harbor with my family was not a memory I was prepared to leave un-documented. I got all the beauty of the harbor, and managed to block most of K's pout just by opting to photograph her from behind, instead.  

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Go ahead - Get artsy!

Review some easy rules of composition to give your vacation images some diversity! I opted to focus on finding patterns in this new environment (there were so many to chose from!), and threw in some reflection-fun for good measure!

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Get in the photo.

Yes, YOU! Maybe you're having a bad hair day. Maybe you got totally sun burnt. Maybe you're holding out until you lose those last few pounds. Or Maybe your infant just accessorized your outfit with a nice string of spit-up all down your outfit (cough cough EVERETT). 

Pass the camera off, anyway, and get in that shot.  

You're not taking it for you. You're taking it for them. Because one day, you won't be there to remind your kids how they kicked and wiggled in excitement when they saw their first fishies, and how precious that moment was because YOU got to share it with them.

Bonus: When they look back on these pictures, they won't see your insecurities. They'll see these cherished moments instead.

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Be present in the moment

Don't spend YOUR vacation orchestrating photo after photo! Put that camera down. Build that sand castle. Putt that hole-in-one. 

It's easy to get swept up in the world of facebook, twitter, and instagram, where the motto "Pics or it didn't happen!" reigns supreme. But not all moments are photo worthy, and some come at the cost of missing a beautiful experience with your family. Let the moments come to you and trust that your camera (or smartphone) will be nearby when you need it.

I passed up on hundreds of fish-photos so I could enjoy the experience with my family. But when this moment came, you better believe I wrestled the camera off my husband to get the shot!

I passed up on hundreds of fish-photos so I could enjoy the experience with my family. But when this moment came, you better believe I wrestled the camera off my husband to get the shot!