Chilling with drinks in Bruges, Belgium (photograph by my daughter, 7)
If you are just joining us, pop over to the first two parts of our series on Kids + Cameras, to read about how to decide whether to buy a kid a camera and kids traveling with cameras. All photographs in this post were taken by my daughters.
Today, suggestions for successful travels with kids + cameras, including the logistics of traveling with multiple cameras, realities, and making the most of the photographic experience.
1. Kids should know where to keep their camera when out and about but not taking photos. Our solution - cameras stay in zipped jacket pockets when not in use, or given to mom/dad. Try shorts or pants with deep pockets or the kids can keep it in a small backpack. A great product that someone should invent is a cute/simple camera bag that a kid can hang around their neck.
2. Get enough memory so the number of photos taken is a non-issue. 1-2gig cards should be sufficient, plus you can reduce the photo size in the camera settings if you need more space.
3. For power, charge the camera battery nightly or carry a spare set of batteries, as appropriate. We charge our cameras each night of our travels.
4. Consider storage/back-up during travels. You can upload photos to a notebook every few days, stop at a photo shop and transfer a copy to CD, or use some process to upload from camera to email without a computer (I couldn't do it on my ipod touch). We wanted to travel without a notebook, but in the end we took it and it was cool. We have 16.6 gig of photographs from the trip.
5. When traveling, ideally each child should have their own camera. Sharing a camera is a bummer even for adults and gives parents a headache. If you have one camera and two kids, alternate who takes photos each day so they have ownership for the full day. Just set expectations. Another benefit of an extra camera is that if one breaks, you can alternate days with the one still working. Make it as low key as possible. Again, let them know the plan in advance.
6. Don't censor. Don't hover. Don't be a control freak, it's their deal. Don't worry about f-stops or speed or composition or whether a subject is worthy of their efforts. Focus on your own photography (pun intended).
7. Don't guilt trip. Once you've invested in the camera and related stuff, there is ZERO incremental cost for each photo. You did the camera test and decided to get the kid a camera, now just let it play out. My kids focused on what they thought was interesting, and DOGS. Your kids will surprise you. My daughters love their photos, even if they are fuzzy, because it reminds them of what they saw or where they've been.... a cute dog, chocolates, a crown.
8. Cameras will be dropped, forgotten bumped, sticky or wet. Camera ownership means taking responsibility for the camera at all times when you are holding/carrying it. We spent 21 days on the road with just 3 mishaps. One camera was dropped twice (on concrete, of course, not soft cushy carpeting) and one was forgotten in a jacket at a restaurant and was actually there upon return 2 hours later.
9. Focus on your own photography. Take your own camera and capture what is most important to you! Our kids are definitely more engaged when they are actively photographing or looking for things to photograph. They are paying attention.
You will be amazed at the difference in perspective. Children are not only at a physically lower level to the action, but different things capture their interest and curiosity. Something you've seen 100x is interesting and amazing to them. My daughters took 100s of photos of jewelry and treasures at the Residenz palace in Munich... I took 2!