It all seems endless.
As I sit here, just a few days away from Departure Day, preparing for yet another epic road trip with my family, it all seems endless.
The piles of clothes, some of which need to be washed, some folded, some put away, some packed. When did we even get all these clothes? Do we have play clothes, clothes for the wedding next month, clothes for rain, or chillier temperatures? Do we have the right shoes, and hats, and did I pack everyone clean underwear? Oh, it all seems endless.
Then there are the To Do lists. What to pack, what errands to run before we leave, what we MUST NOT forget (the nebulizer!!!), and what snacks are essential to 3 kids surviving in a minivan for 4 days. Oh and the list of movies. We must not forget the movies! It all seems endless.
But there's also the itinerary. Did we book the hotels? Do we know the route we're driving? Are we sure that there is a rest stop along that highway around the time when we'll need to stop? Are we driving too many miles in one day? Are we not driving enough miles in a day? Oh, it all seems endless. (Disclaimer- thankfully, my awesome husband handles all things itinerary!)
Truly, planning for any kind of summer travel can be daunting. So the idea of adding travel pics to all of it might seem insane. And maybe it is. But these road trips are some of the greatest memories we'll make with our kids, and so they deserve to be remembered in photos. And with these five simple tips, they can be.
If you pack your vehicle like we pack ours, there is little wiggle room. And you don't want to pull off at a super cool or unique rest stop or attraction only to realize that you packed your camera bag behind the kids, at the bottom of the trunk, where you can't get to it until you reach your destination. Sure, you can grab your phone for quick pics (and there's a time for that), but you need access to your camera. So pack it somewhere accessible (yet still out of the way of snack spills). Think ahead and you'll be glad you did.
I seem to offer this tip a lot, and with good reason. I am learning from personal experience, that kids are not super excited to have their photos taken- especially on a long road trip, when they're bored, or bickering, or hungry, or tired, or all of the above. So tell the kids ahead of time that you plan on taking some photos of the trip while on the road. Let them know to expect the one-eyed monster with the camera attached to her face. Oh, this goes for Dad, too.
On our road trips, time is everything. We don't "rest" at rest stops, and stopping is for eating, stretching, and bathroom breaks. There is no lingering. So the last thing I'm going to do is spend 10 extra minutes setting up photos and taking two dozen shots of the scene. No need. Keep it short and sweet. Grab the camera, let the kids do what they will, and snap a few shots of it all. We're not going to be creating scrapbooks of 12 photos of the same rest stop, as cool as the view might be. So just grab a few shots, and move on. And hit the rest room, too.
There is a time and a place for "the perfect shot". An evening walk on the prairie while the sun is setting behind Pikes Peak (yes, this is an actual reality for us- I love where we live!), or perhaps an outing together for ice cream at the local park. Basically, a planned outing with time to spare and great light. But this is not one of those times. So don't go crazy over the perfect photo. If the light is wonky, so be it. It could be 1pm on a July afternoon in the middle of Kansas. You're not going to get the perfect shot. But we're not looking for perfection here, we're just looking for the memory. So take a moment, locate your light source, do the best you can to get the family where you want them, and then shoot. Or better yet, don't bother moving the family- just shoot them doing what they do where they're doing it. It's the memory you want, not a wall portrait.
I leave this tip for last because I think it's most important, and I learned it the hard way. As I stated above, you might not find yourself in the most perfect conditions when the moment strikes. You might find yourself in the middle of Kansas on a hot July afternoon, and you have to work with what you've got. Like I did, a few years ago. On our trip home from our amazing summer vacation, we decided to drive through the town of Lebo, Kansas. Seriously, you cannot be that close to a town that bears your name and not stop. I knew this would be a photographic moment, but it was close to 100 degrees that afternoon and there was no shade at all (remember, we were in Kansas). And I forgot all of these tips. My kids were tired, cranky, hungry, and HOT! And let's not even discuss the hubby. And I forgot to show kindness, patience, and gratitude from the momtographer who wanted a memory of this. So when we got out of the car, I snapped at them, directed them where to stand, and showed little grace for their feelings. The result was a photo of 4 cranky people, and a lesson in what could have been. So take my advice. Show grace. Show compassion. Have patience. Laugh at the moment. Thank your family. Create a happy memory.
I still cringe when I look at this photo. My hubby looks ticked, doesn't he? I was not a nice momtographer that day!
But we live and learn! And hopefully, my mistakes will benefit you. So have a great trip to wherever you're going and grab a few memories along the way.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have another load of laundry to fold and pack, and some of my own travel memories to capture.