Since we don’t travel abroad (YET!), we like to call our travel within the U.S. an ‘adventure.’ Our adventuring has taken us everywhere from Washington to Florida and back. Our goal in coming years is to travel further North and more of the East Coast. We live for our adventures, big and small. With having kids young, we have molded our life to fit the lifestyle we wanted for us and them. It didn’t work out that we would travel before children, so we made the compromise. Ever since I had my baby boy, I knew that I would take him on along through all of my travels and experiences. Granted they would be different, but better. So much better.
We’ve learned a lot through our lifestyle of being constantly on the go, and with that comes my camera. I love to capture the things we do and the places we go. I may be crazy behind on editing, but I am thrilled to just know that I have some images that inspire me and spark those adventurous desires again and again. It’s only fair to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way that have encouraged my children to not only love traveling, but also love having their photo taken + taking photos!
LET THEM BE THEMSELVES
If you’re new to photography, your kids are going to be your main subjects.. or maybe your dog… or anyone or anything that will give you a chance to practice. Totally been there! From the beginning, I’ve heard about “photographers kids,” and the general consensus that you get nothing but attitude when you try to get that sweet little image of them. Well, I’ve rarely had that happen. First and foremost, we encourage a close sibling relationship between our two, so there’s no forcing the love there. When it’s time to take pictures, we let them laugh and play, then encourage hugs and smiles. I may offer some guidance, “Go over here.” “Ok, you can play like this for a minute, but then I need a smile just REAL QUICK.” Those few moments of letting them play or do whatever they want make all the difference. I’m not typically looking for nicely posed photos though, I prefer candid, real moments. My son has picked up a lot on what I’ve encouraged over the years, so now he helps me with the little one. There may also be some bribery from time to time :).
This is a given in parenting to begin with, of course. But with taking photos and traveling, you really have to let go of the plan you thought you had, and work in more time for rest and play. We embrace spontaneity and encourage our kids to go with the flow in general. It really helps with the ‘Are we there yet?’ questions. We try to be as prepared as possible to meet their needs no matter what we do. Snacks. Books. Favorite toys. You got it!
LET THEM TAKE THE PICTURES
I started putting a camera in my kids hands around the age of 3. If not using an old point-and-shoot I had, they had their own kid-friendly versions to use. Each of them were encouraged to take pictures of whatever they wanted, but especially when we were on the road. I never forced them, but if they wanted to, they could. If not, no big deal. When I am taking pictures of them, they each like to take pictures for me [or of me] as well, I let them. Yep, I hand my kids my Nikon DSLR camera. I put the strap around them like I do and I gently inform them how important it is to be careful. With my daughter, I stay very close and always at the ready. My son is now old enough to use his own caution. I trust each of them.
DON’T ALWAYS MAKE IT ALL ABOUT PICTURES
It’s important to remember to put your camera down too. To play and laugh and not always have that camera around. Same goes for traveling, we have to remember to stop and play. Rest stops can be the best playground on earth if you let it. I feel it is fundamentally important to include them in my passions [my husband too], but to be apart of theirs as well. I don’t want to force it or they’ll come to resent what we do.
No matter whether you’re traveling or taking pictures of your kids, encouragement goes a really long way. So when my son helped me take this series of pictures, he got discouraged when the majority turned out blurry. I let him know I was proud of his efforts and how much I appreciated him. The photos got better and better, and he enjoyed the experience with me. On long road trips, it doesn’t take long before the kids are ready for something to do. While we try to pack and ensure we have everything to help occupy them, we encourage the things they do along the way, and they are further encouraged to continue doing those things.