One of my favorite things on vacations and trips is to photograph along our way. We’re by and large a road trip family – sometimes our trips take us zipping across the country, minivan packed to the gills, stopping for restroom breaks and roadside attractions. Other times, and especially this year, our summer vacation kept us a bit closer to home.
My family is making an attempt to visit all 66 of Minnesota’s state parks, and our camping road trip this year put us over the half-way mark! But what I really want to talk about here is that balance of camping, young kids and photography.
Like I said, part of what I love most about these trips is documenting them photographically, but doing that along with juggling the needs of young kids and managing a camping trip can be daunting. In the long run, though, I find it, all of it, so worth it. Here are the things that work best for me.
- As much as you can, set yourself up for success. We do a lot of meal prep before we even go – we pre-make our beans and rice, taco meat and spaghetti sauce to cut down on the time we need to spend getting all of that going at our campsite. We have set-up and tear-down jobs that we all are pretty set with that we just manage without getting in each other’s way. We don’t set out guide lines for our tents to prevent tripping and we don’t keep fires going less-than-supervised to make sure kiddos aren’t even tempted to ‘manage’ them. We go into a camping trip as prepared as we can be, and I really do think that helps.
- If I’m able to have all of the more typical camping things under control, I’m able to keep half of me looking out for just the right light, that dynamic composition, those storytelling moments and frames.
- I have my camera very near or on me almost all of the time. Now, I’m not shooting all the time, but when particular moments happen with little kids they’re gone quickly. I like to be ready.
- Often, I will set myself up watching a composition or light just waiting for the right moment to happen. “Why’s mom over in that shrub again?” Yeah, you know why 😉
- I’m particularly fond of that morning light in a tent or a camper. It’s extra filtered and still feels really golden and sleepy. I almost always bring my camera into wherever we’re sleeping so I can capture that light and whatever may be happening in it, small though those moments may be.
- I love the things that are really ordinary or less pretty. I have tons of pictures of my family’s backs as we hike through the woods. That giant orange water jug we keep in our site? I’ve turned that black and white many times. The blue cast that makes everyone look ill when we’re hiding from the biting flies in our screen tent? Yup, we’re just rolling with that one. They’re all how it really was, and how I want to remember it all.
- Lastly, sometimes I do put my camera down. I take a few photos of a particular thing, put it down and let myself turn that part of me off for a bit, and that’s completely fine too.
How about you? Do you enjoy documenting your adventures? What are the times when you set the camera down and trust yourself to remember without it? My hope is that someday when my kids look back at my photos from their growing up, they’ll remember how it felt to have those adventures, to go on those trips and to hopefully want to keep having it be a big part of their own lives!
All the best,