We’ve all been there; driving down the road,
minding our own business yelling at kids to stop hitting each other, whatever, when you pass the most beautiful scenic spot ever and know you have to pull over right.now. If I’ve learned anything since I’ve been into photography, it’s this- if you pass up an opportunity for a great shot- you will always regret it.
So I’ve taken to U-turns and quick stops (much to the dismay of my husband and kids). Here’s a few tips for working your roadside locations!
In an ideal world, when you pass by the amazing scenic spot, your kids won’t have just finished playing like crazed animals at both the indoor playground at Chickfila (after dousing themselves in polynesian sauce) and then at another outdoor playground where they promptly kicked off their shoes and rolled around in leaves, ruining what was left of their hair do and clothes. But that’s exactly what had happened when I passed by this gorgeous spot of wisteria vines a few weeks ago.
We had an awesome year for the wisteria, it was everywhere! (Though usually not in safe places with room to pull over, or low enough for me to use as a background for pictures).
But this day, I went home a slightly different way and spotted it as we drove past. It was in an easy to get to location with room to safely pull off the road.
This is key in choosing a location to pull over for, above everything else, is to BE SAFE. No shot is worth putting yourself or your sweet babies at risk (even if you aren’t taking one of them out of the car for a picture- you don’t want to be pulled over haphazardly and take a chance of another car hitting yours!)
The location could have been better- there was some trash scattered around. It had just poured rain so there were puddles everywhere. It wasn’t in the most ideal lighting situation (2 pm!) and there was a hidden creek behind the wisteria which was apparently the breeding ground for all the mosquitoes in the state of Mississippi. I also knew it was going to storm again later that afternoon so I couldn’t just come back later. So, we were going to have to work with what we had, now.
Except that my kid was still half covered in that sauce and her hair…oh my.
If you’re a mom, you probably live out of your car. We could survive off the crumbs in the floor board for awhile…just ‘sayin. I always keep a hair brush, extra hair ties, baby wipes (and not just because I have a baby), and if I were really on top of things- extra photo worthy clothes.
Keep a little “kit” to tidy up your kids for those times you find a magical spot along the road.
There were no extra clothes in the car today, though I have kept an extra plain dress in the car in years previous when the wildflowers were blooming- just in case I happened upon the perfect field.
Sometimes you can find a location that can accommodate all your kids, this was not one of them. I knew better than to let my two toddlers out, it was still too close to the road and that creek spelled disaster. Again, SAFETY FIRST! Never put your kids at risk for a photo. I’m sure it doesn’t even need to be said, but just in case. DON’T DO IT!
So I just asked my oldest daughter if she’d like to take a few pictures in the pretty flowers for a moment. Everyone else stayed buckled up in the van.
Keep an eye out for trash or debris which could be dangerous (broken glass isn’t fun to lay down on- or run over…right!?!)
I know that you can’t always carry your entire kit of lenses with you, but during wildflower/spring time- I usually try to carry my two favorite lenses (35mm is always on my camera, and my 85 mm comes along for the ride). The 35 because I don’t always have a lot of room to back up- but if I do, the 85 has the dreamy bokeh that I love. On this day, I used my 85 mm because I had enough space to safely walk around to get the shot (I was in a gravel parking lot).
She only gave me two minutes of her time, because the mosquitoes were like birds, but I love the few shots I captured.
So next time you are driving around and happen to pass the perfect place to take pictures, keep these tips in mind.
Be safe! Don’t pull over if you can’t get out of your car safely.
If you know you’ll be traveling through scenic areas- extra “photo worthy” clothes can be a lifesaver if your kids aren’t that tidy. Making sure you have your favorite lenses with you is also important, I generally try to keep my 35 and 85 with me always.
Keep a little kit on hand with wipes, hair brush etc to clean up kiddos for pictures.
Always keep your eyes open as you’re driving, you never know when you’ll pass the perfect place for pictures, and with these tips- hopefully you’ll be prepared for a quick roadside-shoot!