Combining Photography and Vacations
Since I’m not a professional photographer, photographing away from home is typically accomplished during family vacations. Note that when I say photography, I don’t mean taking snapshots as I walk about, but typically setting up with a tripod and spending more than 15 minutes (typically considerably more) at a location. At one time vacations were with my wife and daughter. Now vacations are my wife and me.
Photographing during a vacation limits the amount of time I have to photograph and/or changes my mindset when I am out taking photographs. This blog offers some techniques for combining photography and vacations.
1. Have an understanding family or abandon the idea of getting the kind of photographs you are probably interested in getting.
2. Recognize that spending two hours, or probably an hour photographing a location is pretty boring for those accompanying you. On a recent trip I spent more than two hours photographing Ponytail Falls in Oregon. Family members lose interest long before that amount of time passes. Doing a lot of planning beforehand can maximize the time you have available when that is not as much time as you would like. See also #3 below.
3. Choose a location that is not only of photographic interest, but one that offers options for activities that are of interest to the family. Taking photographs in Chicago is a great example of a city with numerous photographic opportunities that offers things for the rest of the family. If you have young children something like Yellowstone and the Tetons are someplace I would recommend.
4. Plan on getting your alone time for photography early in the day. Most family members don’t enjoy getting up hours before sunrise, so block out time before, during and after sunrise for photography and pick the family up an hour or two after sunrise. This is also a time when the crowds are sparse. The only people I typically run into when I shoot around sunrise are other photographers.
5. Try to choose sunset locations that are as appealing to your family as they are to you, hopefully with something close by to do while you claim and hold the spot you intend to photograph from. Photographing at sunset and after can take a while, so being somewhere unappealing to the family can result in complaints and unhappiness. This is easier said than done.
6. Choose a location to stay at that is close to where you intend to photograph if at all possible. For some families camping would be an option. For others like me finding the nicest place I can at a reasonable price works best.
7. While scenic drives are actually fun and rewarding and should be a part of the vacation experience, driving long distances just to get from one location to the next are not. Try to avoid an “empty” drive as it increases restlessness and boredom. Again something that is easier said than done as it just is not possible in some cases.
8. In certain situations (especially when you haven’t visited the location before), use a less optimal photographic time like mid day to travel and scout the photographic location with your family so you can return at another time, preferably in the morning if that works for photographing the scene. On a recent trip my wife and I hiked to Wahclella Falls in the Columbia Gorge area in the middle of the day and I returned at sunrise the next morning when I had the location to myself the entire time I spent there (2 hours).