Before school started, I had the opportunity to take my kids to Carlsbad for a few days. Last Christmas, my family gifted the kids and I tickets to Legoland and a few nights of a hotel stay. It was their way of giving us something to look forward to while our world was in chaos. As usually happens, there just wasn’t a convenient time to go. The tickets were going to expire, so I decided we just had to make it work.
My sweet sister, “Auntie Al,” and her boyfriend, Luke, were kind enough to accompany this single mama so we could make the most of our park tickets. With only one adult, Tim would have had to go on a lot of the rides on his own or not at all, and that didn’t seem very fun. I’m so grateful to have such a big family and so many people available to jump in when needed! I’m not sure they were super excited about what they got themselves into after about four hours in the car the first day though…..
Legoland was great. My kids really are the perfect age for having fun there. It’s definitely a park geared towards younger kids and elementary school age, so we all had a great time.
I want to talk about the reinvigoration of photography as a passion that happened while I was there though. I went on a few dates with a super cool, handsome, funny, amazing, awesome guy before we went to California, and I talked to him throughout our trip there. He thinks it’s cool that I’m a photographer and that I’ve created this little business of mine on my own and stuck with it for so long. This is definitely a career with a high turnover rate! That alone – having someone who acknowledges how much I’ve put into this business over the last 12 years – that’s a really good feeling. But when we were talking, I told him how I rarely take pictures of my own kids. Taking pictures is my job, so like everyone else, I don’t really want to do my job when I’m with my family. I knew we would be visiting the ocean while we were there though, and I wanted to get at least a couple pics of the kids on the beach. He encouraged me to do it, too, and that ultimately got me to grab the camera while we were trying to get out the door with three kids, three adults, beach clothes, towels, blankets, toys…. ya know, the essentials.
The first visit to the beach was interesting. The waves were pretty big. It was a little windy, and the current was strong. But we had so much fun! Despite having to grab the camera equipment two different times to move it when some rogue waves almost got to it, it felt so good to get the camera out and shoot for ME. The best part about the beach is that the kids are doing their own thing. Holland was playing in the sand, the boys were playing in the water. And I actually had some time to play around taking pictures of them. With my kids, I really try not to ask them to pose and look at the camera too often. My favorite pictures are always the ones that really show them being kids – shots that capture the stage of life they are at during that exact moment. And all these pictures did just that. I loved shooting around that first day, but it got cold really fast, so we didn’t stay too long.
When we got back to the hotel and got the kids to bed, I was anxious to get the images on my computer and start with the edits. That was a pretty different feeling for me. Even when I do take pictures of my own kids, the pictures usually sit un-edited in a folder for a really long time. I still haven’t even edited any of the pictures from Christmas… 10 months ago…. But I put these pictures on and got working on them.
It’s such a different experience working on pictures of my kids. I notice so many more little details – Holland’s dimpled hands, Deacon’s ripped muscular back, Tim’s freckles. I feel so much joy when I’m working on pictures of my kids. I feel nostalgic thinking of how fun it’s going to be 30 years from now looking at these pictures with them and their kids. I feel blessed that they are my kids – for whatever reason, staring at them on a screen gives me such an overwhelming sense of love and adoration for them. I hope my clients feel the same way when they look at their photo galleries from our shoots! After that first night of editing, I couldn’t wait to go back the next day and take some more.
The next night proved to be just as fun. Holland and I had such a fun time chasing each other around the beach while the boys played in the water. And Holland even ventured over and got her feet (and ultimately the rest of her body) wet with the ocean waves. I realized that night that THIS was my hobby. Not taking pictures, but taking pictures of MY kids. It makes me so happy. It makes me see my kids differently. It makes me happy to have pictures around my house and be reminded of all the feelings from the trip and from actually taking the pictures. I still look at these pictures and feel those things. I also feel extremely blessed that I have this talent and that I can use it to create beautiful pictures for my kids to have forever.
Not everyone is a professional photographer, and that’s ok! Here’s some tips to take great pictures of your kids on vacation!
- Put everyone in matching outfits. Even if you’re using your cell phone, having cohesive outfits takes those pics up a notch – or ten! I purposely buy my kids swimsuits that match every year because places with water are always great for taking pictures (pools, splash pads, beaches).
- Capture real moments. YOU be the one to move around, don’t ask them to pose. Be intentional in your time taking pictures. Give yourself five minutes just to focus on taking pictures, and then put the camera down so you can still enjoy the experience WITH them.
- Be intentional about what time you’re doing an activity that would work well for taking pictures. We chose to go to the beach both nights during the “golden hour.” That’s the hour before sunset. I just did the exact same thing when I went on a trip with my boyfriend. We purposely planned a place we wanted to see that would be a good place to set up the tripod and take some pictures, and we went during the golden hour. It worked perfectly.
- Don’t get frustrated when your kids don’t cooperate. Try again later, or just focus on capturing those candid pics!
- Take a tripod! I wish I would have gotten in a few more of these pictures. Your cell phone has an easy to use timer, and so does your DSLR if you have one of those. Get familiar with it. This is something I’m working on right now too!