These days we are all looking for something- scratch that- ANYTHING to keep us, and perhaps more importantly, the kids busy! We are running through Pinterest tested ideas faster than we can say “who wants to watch Frozen?!” So, to add yet another idea to your arsenal, I propose …. travel photography. Yep. I said it! Yep, I think it would be fantastic if you put a this-is-not-my-best-camera-so-if-it-breaks-I’ll-be-okay camera in the hands of a young mind and let them be creative! I know, I know, I’d be a little nervous too!
But, with just a little encouragement, your kiddos could have a brand new, possibly educational, time using hobby: travel photography! While we might not be able to hop on a plane right now, we can hone our skills and turn our vacation buddies into travel photography junkies right in our own backyard! You may have a few questions on how to best get started. I did too! Keep reading to see how you can make the most out of your camera time! and while you’re atit, add a little global literacy to your stay at home time!
Taking The Leap!
Lots of us parents approach new adventures from different angles. We hem and haw over some things and treat other situations as easy and breezy! When it comes to cameras, I fell into the category of “There is no possible way I am trusting my 10 year old to get my vacation photos, ever!” I admit it! I never really took the time to teach my kids basic photography. As a result, almost every shot courtesy of one of my kids was either the inside of my purse or a riveting look up someone’s nostril. I recently attended a great travel talk with a wonderful photographer, Ralph Velasco. Ralph runs a great company that takes travelers on photovactions to places like India and Costa Rica.
As I sat there selfishly listening in for tips on how to take photos with my brand new camera for my upcoming trip to Africa, I realized that there was
a huge opportunity that I had missed out on! I never thought of how great it would be for my kids to be doing some of the memory making. What a missed opportunity to not only let them be creative but also to have a little ownership of the trip that we were on! How could I have missed that?! Perhaps it was because I was a walking zombie mom just trying to make it through. So, I thought I would take a few of Ralph’s great tips and apply them to what you can use with your kids on your next trip.
Ralph says: The best travel photography camera is the one you have!
Too true! And for kids, this is especially true. Kids can use your smartphone, your old camera or one that was bought just for the trip. Whichever you choose, go over how to use it and what the rules are concerning keeping the camera safe and useful. Before you jump in and let them become the next Ansel Adams, go over the how’s of taking those pictures so that their camera becomes a point and shoot once they are up and running as the next superstar in travel photography. Here are some good steps to get started:
What settings or filters can I use? Do you really want your child changing the settings on your camera when you have no idea how to get them back to auto everything? Be sure everyone is on the same page.
How many pictures can I take in one day? Do you really want 400 pictures of a cow field when the very next day you will be at the Eiffel Tower? Set a limit and teach them how to delete the pictures they don’t need so they keep the best and trash the rest.
Scrub the selfie only style! Make an effort to determine all of the different kinds of pictures you can take so you don’t just wind up with 539 selfies at the Great Wall of China. Discuss, particularly with your older kids, the process of asking to take someone’s picture, landscapes that are rural and urban, framing, architecture. Develop a catalog of choices.
Ralph says: Find a theme to inspire your travel photography!
Wow! What a great way to gain some focus. In Japan during cherry blossom season? Maybe that’s your theme. Perhaps you are enjoying South America and llamas become your theme. A theme can create a treasure hunt or a quest for your young traveler and allow them to look more deeply into their trip experience. A theme can be challenging: a list of animals on Safari or it can be simple like the color blue. There are a few themes that most likely would not work. For example, I don’t think I would choose the color red if I’m going to China and I don’t think leaves would be so great if I’m headed to Belize. In short, a theme could take something frivolous and turn it into something that expands your horizons.
I often think about kids in very adult places like European cathedrals and historical battlefields. A theme could be just the thing to help your child connect to this otherwise boring place and give you a little more time to enjoy what you came for. Imagine going to a museum in Greece and asking your 6 year old to find 6 different things along the way. This challenge will have your photographer looking in every case and searching high and low for those things to take a snap of! A well timed list could be all the difference that you need.
Ralph says: Create a travel photography story.
I say you bet! Create that story in front of the lens and behind it. Create it with the art you make and the art you see. Five pictures in a Christmas market can be a wonderful and imaginative story when you get back home. Just as wonderful could be sitting down in front of Starry Night. Then, developing a story about what could be happening under that fantastic sky. Maybe you meet an interesting child in a picture and make up a story about what they are doing and where they are going. The possibilities are endless.
Last but not least, have a plan for who is going to be in charge of the camera. Who is in charge of packing and transporting the camera? Can you imagine what it would be like to have all that fun? Then, you leave your camera full of memories in Cabo San Lucas? No bueno. Definitely have a plan and then definitely enjoy the investment of have snap happy kids!
Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too! One really great resource for kids 8 and older is this travel photography book by National Geographic: