The biggest mistake most people make on vacation is to photograph everything - to have the camera at the ready all day. I have a simple padded insert for my beloved Everlane backpack and that's where I store it until it's needed. I learned long ago that nobody wants a camera in their face for the entire vacation. And tolerance for waiting while I take a photo goes down exponentially with every minute. So I try my best to keep photography to a minimum when we're supposed to be enjoying a restful and exciting time together.
I also have have to manage my expectations.
Because I'm a so-called "professional photographer", my bar for vacation photos is pretty high. I want every image to be artistic and beautiful. In reality, that doesn't actually happen. I want the types of photos I produce for my clients, only that too is impossible, because the point of a vacation is NOT to get family photos - it's to play and discover and to walk around in the middle of the day when the sun is harsh and awful and hot.. or you decide to hike 3 miles over some crazy wooden boardwalk and huge rocks and you're too busy focusing on survival (and sweating) to even consider taking photos. Nobody wants to pause to pose for the camera!
The one time we actually did go out during the golden hour, it was our last night in Maine and we got bitten by mosquitos and almost didn't make it back to the car before the sun disappeared completely. So there's that.
There are only a few things you can really count on:
- You can get that perfect shot of your 2-year old walking away from you, pretty much any time you want.
- Nobody will ever actually look at the camera. And trying to get more than 2 people looking at the camera at the same time is like not gonna happen no matter how much you wave your arms and yell in their general direction.
- You will have to sprint to catch up with your family every 2 minutes.
- You will get lots of practice aiming the camera and pressing the shutter with one hand while giving your toddler a piggy back ride.
- You will forget to actually be in the photos yourself. (Unless you force your hubby to take some photos of you and your boys literally at the last possible moment before you leave and then settle on one where you don't look completely horrible)
And Maine was absolutely gorgeous. We hiked Acadia National Forest trails and stayed in a lovely little cabin. I read every day. And the kids complained only some of the time. We didn't get any perfect family photos, but I did try to capture what we did almost every day, even if that meant photographing my lovely family walking away, and leaving me behind, with my camera.