Avid Photographer Traveling with Kids ~ A Survival Guide

by Guest Contributor Valérie Jardin

I could write a book about traveling with kids in general but, as a photographer, I can certainly narrow it down to things that specifically apply to photographers on a family vacation.

As a photographer, going on vacation also means new photo opportunities. You leave home with one goal: to capture some amazing images! You are already setting yourself for some disappointment… Assuming you are the only ‘photography nut’ in your family, the rest of the gang probably has other plans in mind… No matter what, you will have to compromise. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to shoot some of your best work, just lower your expectations a bit and follow a few simple tips:

1. Learn to work fast. You can’t expect non-photographers, children or adults, to wait patiently for 15 minutes every time you want to compose the perfect shot. Leave the tripod at home and work fast! You can always do some cropping in post to adjust your composition later if you don’t have time to get it just right in camera. You’ll get fewer keepers with the distraction around you, but a few is better than none, so keep shooting!

2.  Get up early. Let the rest of the family sleep in or watch some cartoons at the hotel before breakfast (as long as there is another adult with them) and take advantage of the best light of the day!

3. Give your kids point and shoot cameras and take them on a photo walk. Depending on their age, give them a theme for the day (a specific color, dogs, street signs, etc). For them, the walk will feel like a treasure hunt and you may discover a natural talent in the process!

4. Include your children in the pictures. Let’s say you’re in Paris, instead of posing them in front of the Eiffel Tower, try to think outside the postcard. Capture images of your daughter pushing a wooden sailboat at the Luxembourg Gardens and your son eating a pain au chocolat from the boulangerie. Such images will still give a sense of place and you will treasure them forever.

5. Use your kids! In a nice way that is. Children can be a great ice breaker when you do street photography or street portraits. You will look a lot less threatening to strangers when you have children by your side. People won’t even pay attention to your camera. I’ve made some of my best street portraits and candid street shots with my boys in tow. It also opens their eyes to different people and cultures.

6. If you are traveling with your spouse or significant other, plan a day just for yourself and your camera. Then trade off. You get your day to do whatever you want and he/she gets a turn. The best part, you get your photography fix and you both get to spend some quality one on one time with the children!

7. Know when to leave the camera behind. Your children will grow up and move out. You’ll have plenty of time for photo adventures when you are an empty-nester. Enjoy every minute with them, with or without the camera!

8. If you are still suffering from photography withdrawal when you return from your vacation, make plans to participate in a photo workshop for a week or a weekend with a small group of like-minded people. It’s good to be among photographers only for a change. Make it a goal for yourself, it may be next year or in five years, no matter when you can make it happen, it will be something really cool to work for. You deserve it!

Please share some of your experiences with the Rock The Shot readers.

Happy travels!

Include your children in your pictures. There is no need to include a famous landmark in every shot. You can still give them a sense of place while ‘thinking outside the postcard’.

Bonjour! I’m Valérie Jardin and photography is my passion. It’s what I do to earn a living and for pleasure on my days off. I live and breathe in pixels. I love to share the passion and teach this beautiful craft. You can connect with me on Facebook, visit my website, or join me on my next photo workshop: A week in Paris in October!


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April Casey - July 2, 2012 - 2:24 pm

I love love love rock the shot forum and blog for all the inspiration it gives me! So much information on your blog that truly helps us photogs!

Vicki - August 3, 2012 - 9:55 am

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to London and Rome with the hubby and kids. Looking at my photos I keep thinking of 1000 other shots I could have got at the time but have to remind myself that the kids were already sick of my camera. I can hear them now “Mum, do you have to photograph EVERTHING we eat?”.

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