When we travel somewhere new for a family vacation (in Ireland or anywhere in the world), we tend to photograph the new, shiny things. When traveling with children, we are also going to take photographs of them in different locations to record where we have been, what we have done, what we saw.
However, we might come back home with a SD Card full of postcard photographs, that will act as reminders, but will be missing some important ingredients.
Capture the full story of your family vacation, not just the postcard version.
Let’s imagine you are coming to Ireland for your family vacation.
Your family vacation in Ireland will likely involve beautiful landscapes, music, rain, sunshine, rainbows, sheep, Guinness, great food, friendly people, sea, and mountains. Your camera (or phone) will naturally be directed at all of these things that you can’t find at home.
If you’re travelling somewhere else, I’ll let you use your imagination :D
While it’s totally normal to take lots of photos of the landscapes, landmarks, new foods, streets and all the wonderful places you will come across, it’s important not to come back with 100% of the photographs being an advertisement for Tourism Ireland.
No matter where you go, your vacation can never be reduced to a postcard.
A family vacation is an experience.
You are not “watching” your vacation, you are living it.
YOU are going to visit Ireland. You, as in: people, with unique personalities and relationships. Not two families will experience the same vacation in the same way.
What To Focus On When Taking Photos on a Family Vacation
1. The ordinary, everyday moments, vacation ‘routine’ and transitions
While a LOT of things will be different on your vacation (and that’s the reason we’re travelling, right?), travelling with children means you will pack a bit of your “life at home” in your suitcases.
Your family will be going through some hours of traveling, excitement, but also crankiness or even tears (long-haul flights with toddlers are no fun).
Once you settle, you will go through some everyday routines such as getting up, having breakfast, dressing up, getting ready to leave, stopping for lunch, feeling tired, complaining.
Even family vacations on the other side of the world will have ordinary everyday family moments
Those everyday moments are often the kind of moments we forget to capture, and yet, they will bring back the feeling of your vacation like no others.
(On a separate note, having some sort of plan or routine was the hardest thing for me to accept on our first family vacation. The days of planning absolutely nothing and just taking each day as it came were over. Traveling with a small child was definitely an adjustment. Food, naps, and bedtime HAD TO be planned a little bit, or else nobody would have fun.)
2. Shared moments between family members
On your family vacation, you will bring your family dynamics and interact with each other, the same way you do at home, but also in a very different way. Because you’re not home, because you’re not usually spending that much time together.
Try to keep an eye out for moments of connection, play, touch. Between your children but also parent-child. These don’t have to extraordinary moments, or “loud”. It could be reading a story at bedtime, or sitting beside each other watching TV.
3. A wide range of moments and emotions
The range of moments and emotions. Highs and lows. Positive, negative, and in-between. ALL OF IT make your vacation in Ireland, yours and yours only.
The photographs you bring back shouldn’t be all about the things you saw, because, well… these are the same as everyone else’s. They are only a small part of your experience, so I would encourage you to photograph all the less obvious “picture-perfect” moments that will bring back the actual feeling of being there.
Remember that these photographs are for YOU first and foremost. You don’t have to share them all with your family and friends (they can get the highlights version).
For example, I encourage you to capture the chaos of the hotel room, the tired looks, and include yourself in the frame.
4. Connect with your feelings
This one might be a little trickier if you haven’t practiced this at home.
I always encourage my students to connect with their feelings and take a snapshop of a detail that will encapsulate that feeling.
How does it work? When you feel happy, try to anchor yourself in the moment for a few second and take a photo of something that will remind you of that feeling. It could be a flower, a cup of coffee, a ray of sunshine falling in a room, or the hand of a child on your knee.
Ok, but I don’t want to spend my entire time behind a camera when I’m on vacation with my family.
Yep. I know. Me neither.
How to spend less time behind the phone or camera on vacation?
- Be aware. Knowing that you don’t want to live your vacation behind the lens is a great first step.
- Try to leave the camera/phone behind during some outings to just be a parent enjoying precious moments with your family. Yes, you will be missing moments/photos. But it’s ok.
- Be more intentional with what you capture, but don’t try to capture everything.
- Pick just ONE day to capture a “Day-in-the-life” and keep photos to a minimum on the other days.
- Ask someone else in the family to take photos one day (bonus: you’ll be in the frame too).
- Let go of perfection. You don’t need perfect photos, you need photos that will help you remember this time together.
And finally, if you can afford to hire a vacation photographer (which is the perfect way to just relax and stay present rather than spend too much time behind the camera), then I’d encourage you to pick someone with a “hands-off” style, or documentary style, like me. The reason being that they will capture more than picture-perfect photos.
Finally, let me show you an example of a vacation family photography session I did back in Summer 2019.
A Beach + City Dublin Summer Vacation Family Photoshoot
Little did we know how lucky we were back then, to be able to travel.
I started by photographing this family in their AirBnb in the morning, having breakfast, taking a walk on the nearby beach at low tide (in their PJs), getting dressed, catching a bus to Dublin City, visiting the Leprechaun Museum, having lunch at The Church.
Can you see that the photographs are about their experience? About the ordinary, the connections, the faces the kids make when they play UNO? Or the parents sharing a laugh?
I love how this first photo could have been taken at home. Blankets and tablets and sleepy eyes. But… the objects on the table aren’t their memories. It fascinates me.
Have a scroll, enjoy, and get in touch if you’re visiting Ireland and would love similar photos for your family.
Visiting Ireland for a Family Vacation?
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