by Megan Moore
You’ve spent hours researching the perfect family vacation. Beach? City? New destination or your favorite spot that you return to annually? Wherever you decide to go, inevitably the subject of “what should I bring for gear” pops up – usually around 10pm the night before you leave, if you’re anything like me. It’s one of those decisions I always put off until the last minute, changing my mind over and over again before I hastily toss a few things into my camera bag and hope for the best.
We recently took a trip to Disney World and I learned a few things about what works for me when it comes to photography and vacations. I thought I’d share them here and hopefully help some of you before your next vacation.
1. Pack light
You may think you want 4 lenses of varying lengths, your external flash, and a tripod but once you’ve spent a few hours traveling (especially if you’re traveling with kids and your flight is delayed 3 hours like ours was) you’ll start to think about how much more enjoyable it would be if you weren’t carrying the equivalent to another toddler around on your back.
I brought 2 lenses with us to Disney: the 50mm f/1.4 and the 24-70mm f/2.8. The 50 never came out of my bag. While pretty heavy, the 24-70 worked perfectly for our vacation and for my shooting style. I knew it would but I threw the 50 in at the last minute – it’s a small lens so it wasn’t weighing me down by any means but it was just another item I had to keep my eye on, one that I’d be upset if I found it broken or stolen.
We had a park view at Disney. Did I wish I had my 70-200 lens with me to zoom in on the castle? You bet! But I think I managed to work with what I brought pretty well.
This is at the park opening, at 24mm:
Waiting to meet Rapunzel, at 34mm:
On the teacups, at 24mm:
2. Some (ok, many) shots WILL be “just” snapshots
And that’s OK!! It’s okay to realize that not every shot you take will be technically sound. Some might be blurry, some will have dappled light, and composition may be sacrificed for the sake of capturing a moment. This one is one I still struggle with but am coming to terms that not every image I process will be exactly what I wanted technically. They’re still our family memories and I treasure them.
Dappled light galore:
Sweet moment…awesome trash can:
Noisy and out of focus – and one of my favorites:
3. Shoot for yourself too
Amidst all of the character greetings in windowless rooms/dappled sunlight/artificially lit restaurants, rides in full, bright sun, and cranky kids who wouldn’t get out of the stroller I found time to shoot a little for me also. For example, we were walking around after dinner one night, and it just so happened to be the perfect time of night with the amazing light that I love to shoot in. Taking 5 minutes to shoot something I love gives me a fresh burst of inspiration to work with.
4. Embrace the Moments
You WILL have moments. Big ones that fill your heart. Don’t force them, they will come! Be ready for them, and enjoy them.
Thank you for sharing with us Megan! What are your favorite vacation photography tips? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Megan Moore, Massachusetts
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Growing up Megan was always the girl with the camera and her obsession with photography kicked into overdrive as she photographed the beauty of Hawaii while on her honeymoon. However, it wasn’t until her daughters birth, and subsequent month long stay in the NICU, that Megan realized how important photography and capturing life’s fleeting moments are. When she’s not spending time at home with her husband, daughter and baby boy, she enjoys having a “girl’s day” filled with “spa appointments, shopping, good food and quiet time.” A quick glimpse in Megan’s camera bag will reveal a Nikon D700, several Nikkor lenses and a Lensbaby Composer Pro.