When you visit monuments, have you ever been frustrated by the challenge of photographing kids with them? The monuments are often so HUGE, and your kids are so small. The difference in size and scale alone is overwhelming, not to mention the crowds of people that are often in the way. Not knowing what else to do, you do what most tourists do…you have the kids stand together, smile at the camera, and get your unsatisfying snapshot after having traveled hundreds of miles to be here. Want a different option for the next time? Below is a NEW Capture Your Story episode, How to Photograph Historic Monuments, that my husband, Brian, and I filmed with the kids (and camels) while in Egypt (insert YAHOO!!!).
Watch how we tackled this problem when the pyramids were crazy big and our kids were so small! Then get even more tips below for photographing kids with monuments!
Whether you have a smartphone or favorite travel camera, these simple steps will change your monument photos overnight (not to mention the stories your photos will spark for years to come)!
1. Visit the Monument Twice 1 of 8
Make time to visit the monument twice. When we were in Egypt, we planned TWO trips to the pyramids with our tour company to strategize our creative vision for what we wanted to shoot. Having a helpful, willing tour guide makes ALL the difference, from translating with camel guides to making sure the camels don't run away! (Here is Sam, our AWE-mazing Egyptologist guide, from Egypt Uncovered.)
2. Get Away from the Crowds 2 of 8
The first trip was to simply experience the pyramids, but also to research where to come back for photos. For our second trip, we were ready with our plan of attack. We knew we needed to get away from the crowds, so our tour company helped us find a local Camel Guide to take our family to the backside of the pyramids where nobody else was. (AWESOME!)
Results: No Crowds, Full View, and VOILA! 3 of 8
It takes extra time to visit the monument twice, but if you've flown thousands of miles to see it, it may be worth the extra trip. And there is often a local guide who is excited (and proud) to help you find the best vantage spot for the shot.
3. Don’t Shoot Mid-Day 4 of 8
You want to resist shooting at mid-day because the sun is often right overhead with harsh light that makes the kids squint their eyes or gives them horrible raccoon-like shadows. Instead, plan to do your shooting a hour or two before sunset. This is the time of day when the light becomes soft and golden. With my smartphone, I had Pascaline's body block the setting sun so that I would get a dramatic silhouette of not only her karate kick, but the Washington Monument in DC as well. Her karate kick brings me to the next tip!
4. Incorporate Action 5 of 8
You can have your family stand in front of the monument and smile, but those photos never feel as fun or engaging to me. I want to capture stories, not snapshots. When I incorporate action, the photo becomes more three dimensional and invites us into the story of what was happening. For the pyramids, we paid a little extra money to have the camels longer. This way, the action could be the kids walking the camels with the pyramids in the background!
5. Look for Moments of Conflict 6 of 8
When Pascaline met her match with a stubborn camel, there was a dynamic of conflict that brought even more action to the story. Conflict is what gives the story traction. Whether the conflict is expressed through emotions or actions, it makes the photo's story come alive!
6. Get a Photo of You Taking Photos 7 of 8
This one of my favorite photos from when we visited Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I love it for a few reasons. I not only get to remember the jaw dropping experience it was to be at the Jungle Temple, where tree roots have grown over the temple walls, but I also see myself shooting and remember the thrill of photographing the event. I also love it because the kids were playing hide-and-go seek in the temple corridors while mom and dad were shooting. And if you look closely, you can see part of Pascaline's body in the far left of the photo, as she ducks to hide from Blaze. As you capture your kids with monuments, have someone else capture you, too!
7. Play with In-Camera Editing Options 8 of 8
Every so often, it's fun to experiment with some of the creative in-camera options. You can't use these picture effects all the time for fear of overdoing it, but there are great moments to put them into action. In both the SONY a99 DSLR and RX100 point-and-shoot, you can set your camera so the middle of the picture is focused but the outer thirds are dramatically blurred. I thought this would be a great option for bringing our attention to Blaze in the middle, while softening the pyramids and Sphinx in the background. It feels counterintuitive at first, but the things you choose to blur often draw more attention.
Feel free to always post any photography questions for me on my FB page, or you can share your own family/monument photos!
Restart and replenish your photography this Fall at our 2 Day CONFIDENCE Photography Workshop for women in Seattle on 9/21 and 9/22!
*Get 5 Photo Tips that will Change Your Photos Overnight when You Subscribe to Me Ra’s newsletter!
13 Ways to Engage the Photographer in Your Kids (from Me Ra and her two kids!)