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Serious Photography Meets the Family Vacation

May 07, 2014  •  1 Comment

Santorini SunlightSantorini SunlightThe late sun makes the white buildings glow along the caldera edge, near the town of Oia on Santorini.  

Serious Photography Meets the Family Vacation - Part 1

So how many of us have had great expectations for getting that incredible set of unforgettable images on that long planned vacation trip to a scenic wonderland, only to feel thwarted at every turn by the inevitable demands made by travelling with others whose agenda for the same trip may be understandably very different? While trying to combine scenic photo taking opportunities with a family trip can require a number of compromises for the photographer, with a little forethought and planning you can still have the opportunity to take some great shots while enjoying all of the other aspects of a family get together at an exotic locale as well.

In part 1 of this blog post I'll highlight a few of the typical problems facing you on a general purpose trip followed by a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way – see if you can apply any of these approaches to your next outing:


  •  ProblemFinding time to shoot – Impactful images almost always require some time on scene to be able to successfully bring together the technical and aesthetic aspects of an image idea together. This can be hard to come by when travelling with a group of non-photographers.
  • Some Solutions:
    • ​Get as many in your group into photography as you can :)  Having even 1 more person in the group with a camera and an interest in taking pictures can really help.
    • Learn your gear so that you can quickly set up and take a shot when the opportunity presents itself
    • Include other trip members in your pictures
    • Take less stuff to minimize lens swapping or other fumbling with gear
    • Know when it’s time to put away your camera and move on (an essential survival skill… )
  • ProblemMinimizing your gear requirements – Taking a large amount of gear on a general purpose trip often is counterproductive, as it increases the time you spend organizing, moving, and setting up your gear for a shot. This often can increase the impatience of the rest of the group and make the stopping to take pictures more problematic as the trip wears on.
  • Some Solutions:
    • ​Determine what type of camera to take - maybe you have a smaller camera that still takes pictures of sufficient quality?
    • If taking an interchangable lens camera, take a minimum compliment of lenses
      • ​Get lenses from alternative sources especially if it helps you downsize
      • Borrow from friends, rent!
    • Take a multi-purpose bag
      • ​ Helps with ‘security’ too
      • Helps limit gear you take
    • ​Find lighter/smaller alternatives for your gear where possible (lenses, tripod, bag)
    • Be responsible for just your own gear (don’t be the ‘mule’ for everyone’s camera stuff!)
  • Problem: Being Able To Shoot The Scenes You Want - Stopping everywhere in case you might find a picture increases group frustration and is inefficient
  • Some Solutions:
    • Know what type of pictures you are hoping to take prior to leaving
    • Know where to go before you go
    • Make desired locations known prior to leaving
    • Be realistic; pick a small number of ‘gotta-visit’ sites
    • Be ready to shoot at locations chosen by others.

​Stayed tuned for part 2 where I'll cover a couple more general suggestions to help you enjoy that family trip AND come back with some images you can be proud of!

Best Regards,



Great post! I see you have given this a great deal of thought!
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