Traveling and documenting your travels is meant to be fun and exciting, but anyone who has traveled extensively (especially with children) knows that things can go wrong. Hopefully these tips and mistakes will improve your travel photography as well as your experiences.
No.01Stick to What you Know
Sometimes a holiday is the perfect time to try new things. When you travel to a new place it’s fabulous and part of the whole experience to try new foods, new drinks, even to practice a new language. However when it comes to capturing your travels you want to be sure to capture all the lovely little moments that you want to treasure and not mess them up because you’re getting to grips with new equipment. Especially if some of those experiences might be once in a lifetime experiences it can be hugely disappointing if the pictures don’t come out the way you had pre-visualised in your head.
Sometimes, if you’re in one place for several days then a new technique or piece of gear can be fun while you’re relaxed but in general I’d say take tried and trusted gear and leave the experimenting for at home, where if something doesn’t work you can try again another day!
Learn from my mistake: I went to Cambodia and took my brand new lensbaby. It’s such a pretty lens and so much fun to play with, but when I look back at those pictures of my kids roaming around a place we might never visit again I regret those pictures and wish I’d just focussed on capturing in my normal style rather than trying something new.
No.02Don’t put yourself under too much pressure
Remember this is a holiday. There’s meant to be down time and time to relax and chill. Not every single moment needs to be captured every single day.
Over the first few days take some time to soak up the atmosphere of the place and it will help you form a better picture in your head of how you want to frame those moments. Take photos of the kids having ice creams on day 3, but enjoy the ice creams, and enjoy one yourself on days 1,2,4,5 and 6!
Learn from my mistake: I used the ice cream example because I’ve been that Mum, so engrossed in capturing her kids eating THEIR ice cream while I held my own and tried to juggle my camera too that I ended up with melted ice cream all over my camera, which not only ruined the moment but meant time on my holiday spent cleaning camera gear when I’d much rather be hanging out and having fun!
No.03Don’t bring the wrong gear
Make sure you’re well prepared in advance to avoid stress while you’re away from home. Bring charged batteries, and a charger, empty memory cards, lenses that are appropriate for what you want to photograph and accessories such as a lenspen or lens cloths to make sure everything works properly.
Think through what you’ll be doing and what kind of bag you’ll need and whether you’ll need a tripod. No one wants to be googling for where the local camera gear shop is while you’re on holiday because you’ve forgotten something that’s totally essential.
Learn from my mistake: On a recent trip we spent a lot of time hiking and cycling. I really hadn’t thought this through and had brought my camera equipment in a messenger style bag, which was just not suitable for those kinds of activities.
Each time we went out I had to empty one of my kids rucksacks and put my camera in there, which was super annoying, and although the messenger bag was fabulous for the traveling part I wished I’d also packed a lightweight rucksack for the more active parts of our trip!
No.04Do your research
Look up places that you’re visiting to have some ideas in your head before you visit. You’ll have limited time in a location, or once you get to your resort and you want to spend that time on being out and about and enjoying yourself and experiencing the location, whether that’s photographing or just soaking the atmosphere up, not stuck in a hotel doing research or dealing with slow internet connections.
Make sure you have an app on your phone to tell you the sunrise and sunset times so you can plan accordingly without too much effort. And maybe create a Pinterest board with some of the places you know you really want to see.
Learn from my mistake: We are a little bit “On The Fly” when we travel and often we just turn up somewhere and then find somewhere to stay. This means I’ve often not managed to research a place and its sights before we arrive, and frequently we are camping so we have no wifi.
Whilst sometimes this is great for just going with the flow and finding hidden gems I’ve also been known to kick myself after being right around the corner from a gorgeous sight that I didn’t realize was there.
No.05Capture the moment, but don’t miss the moment
Capture what you can. The scenes, the details, the fun, the food, the atmosphere and the people you’re traveling with – all the little things that help to tell the story of your trip. Don’t get too hung up on getting the perfect shot, sometimes you just can’t be in the perfect place at the perfect time, and we can’t always schedule everything for the gorgeous golden hour.
Accept it for what it is. But also don’t forget shots, and maybe have a check list if there are things that are important to you to make sure that you don’t miss them in the midst of soaking up the moments.
Learn from my mistake: I hiked on a remote part of the Great Wall of China with my daughters this summer. It was incredible and away from the tourist masses which meant I captured my girls in this beautiful isolated area.
However, I totally forgot to capture a picture of myself with them, and there’s no record that I was there, other than the fact that I took pictures. A checklist would have helped me to remember to treasure that moment with ME in it with the girls too.