4 Ways to get killer travel photos with your toddler, by yourself!
Hey there, old friend.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how I take my photos when we are on our adventures. I have mentioned on my instagram that most of the time, I take my own photos. Sometimes my husband will be around, but most of the time it is myself and a self timer. There are a few ways I am able to do this (somewhat) successfully. Obviously I could get better pictures if I had a full time photographer following us around but that's clearly not realistic.
Tip 1 - Invest in a tripod.
This is key. Mine was about $24, and I take it everywhere. I leave it in my car so I can grab it anytime. It's small and light and easy to use. I used to try to find places to set a camera rather than use a tripod and the photos always turned out terrible. Either the camera would fall mid-photo, I couldn't get the camera to frame us correctly, or the surface of whatever it was balanced on would show up in the frame. It was a disaster. I use this tripod and it has worked great for us!
Here is a little behind the scenes of how we get the shot. I set up the tripod and my camera with the settings that I want (always shooting in manual mode + raw... I only put my camera on auto when a complete stranger takes our photo), then set up my camera to take 10 photos, 1 every 5 seconds. This allows us to take several in a row. Maddux DOES NOT like to/care about taking photos. I am typically doing my best to play with him and distract him while the camera is going. Often, our photos are of us just walking and playing. That is because I typically will set up the timer and then simply interact with him. It isn't ideal, but as I said... we don't have a professional following us around so we have to make due! I also don't want to force my son to be look at the camera and smile for every photo (honestly I could't get him to even if I did try) so just setting up the camera and letting him be himself works for us.
Tip 2 - Change your poses.
If you have to set the timer two or three different times to get the frame and composition you are looking for (IE - the view you want + you in the center and in focus) your child is going to be very bored very quickly. This is where you must get creative. I used to hold my son over my head; it made him laugh and was more unique than simply holding him on my hip. However, he recently grew too heavy for me to do this (sad day).. so now I will flip him upside down, jump around or spin with him. This usually keeps him smiling and happy for the two minutes to takes to get a photo before I let him play again.
Tip 3 - Choose your location strategically.
Often when we go places, we aren't taking photos right in the heart of tourist attractions. Setting up a tripod makes it very difficult to get that "typical" shot because there are usually people all over, walking in and out of your frame or walking right in front of your camera set up. You have to keep your eye open to find spots where there are less people or at a different angle. This takes practice, but you quickly become aware of what location will work vs. which locations will be too full of people to look decent. In the examples below, I took the first photo right in the heart of all the tourists, and the second photo off in the distance, away from the people where Maddux could wander and I could set up the tripod in peace. Note the difference in the feel of the photo!
Tip 4 - Throw your cares in to the wind!
By this I mean - DO NOT WORRY WHAT PEOPLE THINK!! You might feel funny setting up a tripod and posing while people are watching. Who cares! They all take pictures too, and yours will probably turn out better than their selfies because it will be properly framed and have great views. You will most likely never see any of these people again anyway. Just own your shot and do your thing, regardless of who is watching! I wish you could see the "behind of the scenes" of these photos. The first one was taken while 50+ people were standing in line for Shake Shack less than 30 feet away with nothing better to do than watch me take this shot. The second one was in front of the most busy monument I have ever been to. Thousands of people were around trying to take selfies and photos. I just set up my timer and did my thing!
I hope you feel more confident taking photos while out with your little ones after realizing that I am out here making a fool of myself in order to document the fun times I have with my little guy. It's always worth it for the memories!