How NOT to Tip Your Family Over with Digital Photography on a Vacation

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If you’re anything like me, you love your digital photography and look forward to any opportunity to get out and about with your digital camera.

Vacations present you with wonderful opportunities for photography with lots of new sights, plenty of time to craft your shots and a more relaxed vibe which often unlocks creativity.

The only problem is those you’re vacationing with, your family and/or friends, might not share your passion for photography and will probably quickly tire of having to wait for you to line up the perfect shot of that perfect sunset or having to pose for 10 minutes while you set your aperture…. and set the tripod up….. and adjust your focal length….. and get the flash just right….. and…..

Of course holidays are times not only for hobbies like photography but are times for family and friends also – striking the balance between the two can be a challenge for some of us – but here are a 7 tips on how NOT to tip your family over with your photography on you next vacation:

1. Get them involved

Perhaps one of the best things I’ve seen done by a serious amateur photography with his family holiday was for him to buy a new point and shoot camera for each of his children. He presented them with their new cameras on day 1 of the holiday and instead of having to drag his kids out while he took photos they were begging him to do it more. Instilling a passion for photography in kids is not only a great way to get them to let you do it more, but more importantly it gives them skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives. You might also find your own photography improves as you go back over the basics with them.

2. Incorporate your photos into your holiday

Take your laptop or the AV cables that came with your camera that connect it to a TV and at the end of each day have a screening for your family of the photos you took during the day. If you’ve taken a lot of photos of your family having fun during the day, this time can be a special one of reminiscing the day that was and will give your family a reason to pose for you during the day.

3. Get up early

When my family goes on holiday they generally stay up late and sleep in most of the morning. This presents a keen photographer with a window of opportunity in the mornings while the family sleeps to go out alone with their camera. The great thing about this is that early mornings (dawn) are a great time for photography with few people around to clutter up shots and often a lovely cool light that you don’t get at any other time of the day.

4. Minimise your Gear

There’s nothing more frustrating than a photographer that carries around so much gear that it slows them down and makes the taking of every photo a major production. While you might like to take a range of gear on your vacation try to minimise it on a day to day basis, especially in those times where you go out as a family to do a fun activity.

Grab your camera, fit an all-round lens, maybe put a spare battery or memory card in your pocket and head off for your day. In this way your gear doesn’t dominate your day but you still have a way of capturing the memories. I’ve recently added a small point and shoot camera to my camera kit. This enables me to go out and about without having to haul my largish DSLR and lenses with me. This means I can still capture the fun and informal moments each day in a subtle and fun way.

5. Identify ‘Photography Times’

Pick a few times during your holiday that will be ‘photography times’ where you’ll go out alone with your gear and do your thing. Communicate ahead of time when these times will be to your family so they know they’re coming up and so that they can organise to do something else during them. The beauty of this is that you set some boundaries for you and your family where you know you’ll have uninterrupted times with your camera.

6. Leave your camera at home

In the same way that identifying specific times for photography can be good, it can also be helpful to identify times that are free of photography where you and your family can just enjoy yourselves without having to pose or look for the perfect shot.

7. Candid photography

Develop a more candid and spontaneous style of photography. One of the things that tips over people travelling with photographers the most is the drawn out process that often surrounds the taking of a picture. Setting up a tripod, attaching the camera, looking for the perfect angle to shoot from, framing the shot, setting aperture and shutter speed, taking a test shot, examining the results, making adjustments, taking the ‘real’ shot….. the process can be long and drawn out for those around you. Work on a more candid and spontaneous style and they’ll be grateful for it.

Update: Get everything You need to Know about Travel Photography in our New Guide

Since publishing this post we’ve put together an eBook specifically on Travel photography called Transcending Travel: a Guide to Captivating Travel Photography.

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Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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