Balancing Family Life and Photography

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by iamajai, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. iamajai

    iamajai Mu-43 Regular

    As the thread title states, I've been struggling lately with finding the right balance between photographing my family and actually being with my family. There are some weekend outings where I've taken dozens of photos of my kids and wife running around and having fun and enjoyed the images, but found that I've really missed out on the time I could have spent enjoying them instead. It's hard to turn off the photographic mind, always looking and seeking images and light rather than being in the moment. I've been on a few outings lately where I've purposely left my camera behind so I can avoid the endless chase for another 'keeper' and enjoy life instead.

    Interested to hear if others have gone through a similar struggle and how you've found the right balance.
  2. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    My problem is I decide to do a little editing and find that it is suddenly midnight and I've been sitting there for hours. :)

    When I'm out casually I'll usually just take one camera and lens. If I take more I feel like I have to use it all...
  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Part of the reason why I have an X100....It allows me to shoot & participate in the fun without being over obsessed with photography. :smile:

    Try only bringing your G1 and your 20mm and call it a day :smile:
  4. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Photography and family, especially family vacations, don't mix.

    Schedule time for photography, two to four hours once a week (twice if you can squeeze it in). (A Saturday morning ... a Tuesday evening ... slow news days so you don't miss a family event.)

    For family stuff, just take one lens, ... say a mid-range zoom and shoot just a few shots.

    For sports, shoot your brains out, all the parents will love you. For school plays and such, schedule time with the drama teach to shoot the dress rehearsal, shoot your brains out the parents will love you.

    Give your kids a camera, if they graviate towards photography ... then you're in luck.


  5. YUP!!! ME! Family with a 6 year old and two 7 month old.. boys. I also work long hours + long commute during the day so at least one day of the weekend is used to get some mental reset, rest, and do errands.

    I hate to say this... I've struggled with this a long time... but simply put. Family outings and photography do not mix at all!!! I simply had to accept that and be happy with the moments of photographic freedom I get here and there.... as well as snapshots of the family. This is in part a main reason why I no longer post many photos. This is also part of the reason that I sold off an entire bulky high end Canon system for micro 4/3rds. It allows me to continue to carry a camera with me like I have always but without bonking my son's head with the camera/lens and explaining to the wife why there is a big bump on his forehead.

    Some day, the kids will be grown up and the last people they will want to hang out with are the Parents. So I accept that this is a phase of my life where family precedes "me" time. When that day comes, I will have time for photography. Until then, I highly recommend cherishing every moment because they grow up very quick.
  6. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Leave the camera behind :eek:.

    You'll miss some shots, but you'll retain the memories.

    Photography is fun, but photography isn't family. A camera can document a moment in time, but it doesn't capture life.

    Just my 2 cents after five decades of documenting things in photographs that mostly didn't require documentation.


  7. Btw... GREAT Thread!

    I always wondered if I was the only one.... that couldn't quite balance.
  8. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I've gotten myself in trouble fiddling with my gear more than giving attention to the family. so I've had to learn that it's more rewarding to be undistracted rather than constantly behind the lens. if I have a lot of processing to do, I either have to be ok stretching it out over a few weeks or after the family has gone to bed.

    since then, my wife has embraced my hobby more and even bought me a camera bag so I don't have to use the diaper bag to carry the OMD.
  9. Joltinjess

    Joltinjess Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2013
    Port Moody, BC
    I definitely struggled with this in the beginning because when I would go out with the family I would try to shoot landscapes or flowers or whatever. But if I go out and just shoot my daughter or wife casually, when I see a good shot, then I can make it work. No camera bag for sure though, 1 camera and 1 lens on the rapid strap.
  10. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    A thread for intelligent discussion

    I agree that sometimes we just get over excited and just soak ourselves in taking pics where as spending time with family is more important . I prefer to leave the camera system behind sometimes and just take one lens.As suggested by some , I prefer to go and shoot alone sometimes .. Once a week or something like that . I also realised that many times people just shoot to put pics on forums upload on online photos hating platforms rather than enjoying them in reality. The same thing applies on gear as well . Many people buy cameras or lense just they found someone took better shots with the camera or lens. I am quite careful with what I buy or wanna try . I think Sony RX100 is perfect tool for balancing photography and famil fun.
  11. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I'll agree that photography and family time really don't mix, and will certainly suggest that you lean way toward the family time when sorting out priorities. It's not even close for me.

    And I agree with Bhupinder, as I've settled in with the Sony RX100 as the best compromise camera for family snaps. Good enough to satisfy my photographer-wannabee self, but can easily fit in a pocket and not get in the way.
  12. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    I remember my Dad commenting fifty years ago that he had to watch our super 8 movies to see what he did on vacation. I learned that lesson and back when I was shooting film I tried to experience my life first hand, and take a few photographs just to capture things that were notable about it. With the advent of digital the ease and low cost of taking lots of shots lured me away from those good habits for a time. I've since regained my balance, and just shoot enough to save the essence of what we're doing.

  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I've brought just my RX100 on several outings lately. It takes so long to power up/down (compared to m43) that I use it less. The image quality is not quite as good, but when we went to the Caymans in the spring, that's all I brought, and we got some great shots anyway. RX100 - Cayman Islands (Img Heavy) It's a good "family shooter" and takes movies VERY easily, and the sweep panorama function is nice. Belt pouch and down.

    I'm trying to set up my jpgs better now, to cut down on my post processing in general, too.
  14. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    I gave all of my kids a camera when they were six. It started a lifelong hobbie for them. But it also made families outings together with a camera, truly family outings.
  15. DanSullivan

    DanSullivan Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Dan Sullivan
    I like to do just a few snapshots on family outings. That is, no "artsy" attempts at landscapes, buildings or (God forbid) flowers. I take just one lens (which for me tends to be either the kit zoom or the 40-150). A few shots here and there, taken quickly so no one has to spend time posing, and to capture the memories; no attempt at "quality" other than basic exposure.

    Also important is a simple way to carry the camera so I can participate. I use a fanny pack that also holds water and snacks for the kids. For most of the day the camera stays inside; I'll pull it out during downtime and sneak a few shots.

    The flipside for me is to make some pure "photography time" -- by myself -- to try new things and to concentrate and take time to think about composition. These times tend to get squeezed into the boundaries of my day: early AM or just after work.

    I also like to wander the house when the bug bites, and ambush people :wink:
  16. Captmatt

    Captmatt Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 7, 2013
    Homer, Alaska
    Matt Wilkens
    Good question. I think it somewhat depends on the age of your kids. But I do know the kids will remember what you did with them, not what you photographed. I pretty much always have a camera with a family outing, but invariably it is one camera/lens combo. And if my kids say no more pictures, I stop, usually....
  17. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I don't have kids yet, but I sometimes have to remind myself to not override the experience of being there with recording being there :wink:

    A few things that help:

    1) Sometimes, you just don't bring a camera.

    2) If photos aren't a primary reason you're there, just take a few key shots of what you want recorded and call it a day. Put the camera in a pocket or in a bag when you're done, if you need to remove the temptation to keep shooting.

    3) Find ways to work the photos into some of your events. For example, my wife and I went out this weekend and she'd planned a "surprise" outing for me. She took me to the last covered bridge in NJ so we could see it and I could take some photos, then we went to dinner at a new restaurant. Good times and the photos were half the fun. I even got her to take a few with her camera and we traded portraits of each other out at dinner.

    Like others mentioned, make sure you carve out time just to go shoot photos for you too. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know if I stop making time for a hobby, it can very easily be forgotten altogether. Know when to put the camera down and spend time with the family, but don't make limiting your family-time photography take the joy & interest out of your hobby, either :thumbup:
  18. iamajai

    iamajai Mu-43 Regular

    It's encouraging to read that there are others that have had similar struggles. I understand when it comes down to it there really isn't a choice to be made and family comes first, just that I've managed to lose sight of that in the past few months. I blame some of that on my acquisition of legacy lens that brought a much higher level of enjoyment and satisfaction to photography. I enjoy the tactile, more methodical process involved and the photos are so much more rewarding.

    The suggestions to pack only my camera and a single lens, likely the P20, is a good one as it'll remove the temptation of my legacy lens, speed up the process, and make it easier to forget I've got the camera with me.

    I have two kids, five and four so it is difficult to carve off some time for a dedicated, solitary photo outing. I've managed to do one walk with my five year old where I gave her a point and shoot and we compared shots afterwards which was a lot of fun. I've also recently joined a photo club at work where we'll be able to carve off an hour or so a month to photo walk our campus.

    It took a scolding from my wife to realize how far to the wrong side I'd drifted, but I think I'm refocused and will try to find some outlets/opportunities that don't compromise my family time.
  19. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    The only way I can do it is mainly to use the hour a day I am out with the dogs ... other than that I am in the 'one camera, one lens' branch of the community ... the lack of obsession probably explains why I am a casual Photographer but a dedicated Grandfather
  20. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Don't rely on your memory!
    A) Not everyone has a good memory.
    B) Most people will forget many cute details about their kids as they slowly grow up. Video is also very helpful here. My daughter spoke in a special way and had habits that we would have forgotten if it wasn't for the videos.

    It doesn't mean you have to be constantly photographing them. Just try and capture milestones, events and quirks as they happen. You will miss stuff, but don't let that stop you putting the camera down from time to time. But keep it nearby. "Burst mode" might help.
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