Sometimes it’s just not a photo

In Travel
Scroll this

Last week my family and I took a little spring break adventure to the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior.  We spent a good amount of time on the shore of the big lake itself, tossing in rock after rock after rock. My two- and four-year-old would’ve been content to do this for our entire four-day stay, I’m quite sure, but we also did a good bit of hiking in the state parks that are along that stretch of Highway 61. This time of year snow has really started to melt in full force, and that means the streams, creeks, and rivers are all running with wild abandon. The waterfalls that are there on a normal basis are all bursting with a surging, reddish-brown water, and often times waterfalls are even created where they don’t normally exist.

If I know the readers of this blog like I know myself, just the thought of all that amazing energy and power exploding from the earth makes my focusing ring twitchy. It makes me want to drop that shutter speed as low as I possibly can, and snatch up the nearest polarizer to see if I can possibly make some kind of magic with what’s in front of me. I know the mechanics of how to make this happen; the composition possibilities fly through my brain. I’ve done it many times before, and I’ll likely do it many times again. But this time it wasn’t going to happen.

Sometimes, I’m just on vacation with my family. I am not setting my alarm for the crack of sunrise. I am not seeking out the very most perfect vantage point. I’m not bringing my big tripod, or a huge array of lenses, or a wallet full of filters. I left my laptop at home, And Instagram isn’t going to get a peek of this gorgeousness.

On this vacation I had a two-year-old strapped to my back. On this vacation I was clinging to my four-year-old’s hand as we carefully navigated muddy and icy slopes alongside a roaring river. On this vacation I was at the most amazing spots at high noon with shadows as harsh as they could possibly be. Of course, I tried to take those photos, and I’m sure I’ll likely try to take them again. But this time, they just weren’t my photos. This time I’m going to put the feeling of my daughter shifting her weight back-and-forth and back-and-forth in the pack and my memory banks. This time I’m going to feel the small hand of my son as his thumbnail digs into the center of my palm as he’s doing his best to be the most amazing hiker that has ever hiked these trails. This time I’m going to let the chant “slow, slow, penguin, lemon” remind me that the slower steps, the steadier steps, the steps hand-in-hand with the ones I love are the memories that will last.

All the best,


  1. Alison, you are a wise mother. I have been meaning to tell you all winter that I love your son’s coat. The colors pop with such joy! Thank you for this beautiful post.

  2. Such a sweet post. I totally know what you mean. Sometimes, you just have to let go of your expectations about what you’re going to photograph, and soak up the present moment.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.