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Travel photography in Europe with four kids and a non-enthusiast spouse

Discussion in 'Travel Tips and Discussion' started by craniac, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. craniac

    craniac Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2013
    Orem, Utah.
    Mark Crane
    I'm leaving for Europe tomorrow for a month with my family of six. I've got a Panasonic GX1, a 14mm and the kit 14-42 lens. I am such an amateur that the primary appeal of the 14mm for me is that I can use the smaller, less obtrusive case. My wife is not excited about me bringing the camera, thinking it will be in the way, banging into things, and tried to talk me into leaving it home. She puts articles on the fridge door about how taking photographs ruins our ability to enjoy life and remember key moments. I may just bring one lens.

    So with those variables in mind, I'm looking for tips on getting some good photos in Europe (France/Edinburgh/Amsterdam) while keeping the family happy and not being too disengaged. I think what I will end up doing is getting up early and going for photo walks, and just taking opportunistic snapshots when we're out and about for the day. I'm keeping my expectations low so i don't get too stressed about missed photos.

    Apologies for the navel gazing of this post :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I cannot comment on how to keep your wife pacified but I can say this;

    if you're anywhere near Glasgow (approx 40 miles west of Edinburgh), give me a shout and I'll show you around the city... :thumbup:
  3. Ellsass

    Ellsass Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2014
    She will appreciate having the photos when you return home.

    I used to think that taking pictures distracted me from soaking in the new surroundings and creating lasting memories. But after a few outings without a camera I realized that wasn’t the case — for me, part of the fun of traveling is taking photos. I enjoy traveling more when I’m taking photos, and I appreciate having my own photos to look at when I get home.

    I don’t have kids, but like you I am concerned about the size. I have a GF5 (a huge step up in size for me — I used to bring only tiny compacts that I could completely enclose with one hand) and I use the 20mm and 14mm. For my next trip I plan to keep the 25mm on my camera as a default and only switch to a wider lens when I need it. I suspect I will end up only using the 25mm and 14mm, but I’ll bring the 20mm anyway.

    In Europe you will often find yourself needing a wide lens. For example, you may be in a tight space like a narrow alley looking up at a large church. But you will probably want a narrower lens for shallower DOF and a sharper image than the 14mm for taking pictures of people and objects smaller than buildings.

    Where are you going?
  4. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    My first thought when I read the OP was "buy postcards". I err pretty far on the side of being engaged with the family when vacationing, and only have one child. I can't imagine having time for much more than quick snaps with four kids.

    I'd definitely be thinking small point and shoot, or "serious compact"., as we call them around here. But with no time before the trip that isn't a possibility.

    While your family will value the photos you take on vacation, they will not value hundreds or thousands of photos. Nor will they value a shot that took you 15 minutes or more to get "just right". That's where we (the enthusiasts) lose the normal people.
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    don't take photos of the places... take photos of your family enjoying the places... actually just take photos of the family... Edinburgh Castle will be the same in 5- 10 -20- 30- 50 years .. your kids wont


    • Like Like x 15
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    A month in Europe with no camera(???!!!???)

    Pack the kit lens far out of sight, and keep the GX1 with the 14mm everywhere you go. Remember the blue idiot button actually takes very good photos in a pinch. I am sure if you get a couple of cool shots that you could print large and hand them to your wife in a frame, she will see the light! Plus, get awesome shots with your kiddos and push her to share them on social networks!

    If you have a smartphone camera, don't be afraid to fall back on that if you must. I have only been married ~6 months, so I can't really give marital harmony advice, but I'd say compromise lies somewhere in the realm of you not caring about pixel peeping for this trip. Accept that and I think it'll go better... but who am I to opine! Good luck.
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    I agree with Kevin. Just be mindful of when and where you photograph so the whole family doesn't start to groan every time you pull out the camera. And learn to be quick about the whole affair. Finally, I would still take those long walks. A month of travel with anybody requires a bit of down time to keep your sanity. I suggest that your wife find some solo time as well.

    Good luck,

    • Like Like x 1
  8. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    +1 to Kevin and Ken's comments. I would also suggest that during the daytime you just use the kit lens for the flexibility of changing focal lengths. The 14mm is a nice prime but the kit lenses aren't too bad and you'll probably be happier with a decent photo at 25-40mm from the kit lens than one you had to crop down from the 14mm.
  9. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    This is advice from someone who has "been in the game". Way easier to sell then you leaving her with the four kids...
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I was going to suggest taking another lens like 45mm for some portraits but , on second thought , maybe not :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  11. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    seriously, when your kids will turn over 30's they will appreciate every piece of their past moments.
    and who knows, may be this trip will influence them same way as Mr. Hearst who built his infamous castle on California coast.
  12. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    my 2cents... i take pictures of typical touristic things too. the moment i see the statue or church is a experience thats become personal sometimes. i connect my feelings to thr moment and that is a difference to just buying the post card.

    but with my family. i try to handle my digital camera as a analogue. i got my 24shots or 36. and try to stick with that numbers. becouse i dont wanna make the trip into a photo thing.
    it would be great to have a 30mb SD card just to be minimalistic.

    also. i bring just one good lens. swapping lenses is a joy killer.

    and lastly i tell my wife to chill and to encourage my hobby :) 
  13. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    +1 to Ken and Kevin
    Shoot your family, put sights to background. Learn to be quick and accept a lot of trash, dump those from memory card when you have minute for yourself.
    But most important, don't give up. If photography is your thing, value it, practise it, of course adapt to family needs, but don't give up. We only live once. And eventually your family will thank you for capturing the memories.
    One shortcoming though, if your spouse is not so supporting you're not going to show up a lot in your photo-memories. Remember yourself and use reflections.
    Happy vacation in Europe!
  14. craniac

    craniac Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2013
    Orem, Utah.
    Mark Crane
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Thanks all, this is great advice. I am such a crappy photographer that I will be using the idiot (I/IA) button quite a bit. I really like the 14mm lens, but my cropping experiences have been less than stellar. I've got the iPad and a 32gb card (and some smaller backups). My cell phone camera is terrible. I have attached a comparison, just because I made it this morning to show my wife the difference. I had a Canon S95, but before moving to the Middle East last year I wanted to bring something along that I would have fun learning how to use, and now I take all of my shots in auto mode. Great advice from all of you, especially getting as many pictures of the family as possible and getting some alone time. I may not even bring the 14mm with me--can't decide, leaving in six hours, and have a fear that everything I own will get stolen.

    We are traveling to:

    Paris - today
    Edinburgh - July 27
    Amsterdam - Aug. 2
    Nice - Aug. 8
    Lyon Aug. 13
  15. Matero

    Matero Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    We'll, I've lived over forty years in Europe and nothing stolen from me, yet. :D 
  16. m1pui

    m1pui Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 30, 2010
    Sunderland, UK

    ^^ Exactly.
    Just because you've got your camera, doesn't mean every photo you take has to be a perfectly composed image ready for stock!

    Just take a photograph. Think of it as holiday photo's, not travel photography.

    I've got loads of photo's from everywhere we've been on holiday and try to get a book made up annually of the better ones and memory joggers and we're happier for having them. I take those photo's for our memories of the places we've been, not to critique them.
    • Like Like x 3
  17. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    I would take just the camera and the kit lens. Get some selected shots of the family with some cool sights in the background. Maybe one or two attempts at something else and enjoy the family and the trip.

    Make some prints when you get home to frame around the house to remember the trip. In time, your wife may be reminding you to bring the camera on a trip so that you can do this again.
  18. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    I would say bring kit lens - just in case you need it. And then just enjoy - don't overthink it. Don't think of photos that you can post here or in flickr or any other forums :wink: Just be happy you've got some to look back to.

    If you've got some really good photos - especially of your kids - your wife just might change her view about photography.
  19. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    The 14mm is so small...it would be a shame not to have it just for the sake of making the camera fit in a jacket pocket...
  20. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    I have tried to hunt 128-256Mb SDCards but it is hard. It would be joy to carry 10 such card and really focus what is important. Now i have only 512-1024 and they give way too many shots for my joy lens combo use.

    And my tip for camera handling is not to raise it in first moments, instead raise it only when about to leave the spot when it ia about sights. As then it is easy to get memories and finally get shot to "remind" from them.

    As it is true that camera can ruin trip as there is no memories. Thats why dont take camera\smartphone to concerts or other such places.
    • Like Like x 1
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