A guide to how to capture the memories of your family travels
It seems like every parent is obsessed with capturing every moment of their child’s life on camera. Whether it is capturing one of the many firsts they experience (steps, smiles, words, day at school etc), this desire to capture these memories can very quickly become obsessive and if you are not careful, can cause you to miss out on being present in the actual moment. This is even more prevalent when you go travelling with your children as there is even more desire to capture everything that is going on around you. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to travel photography as everyone has a preference, but here’s how we did it.
During our travels around the world, we fought hard to find the balance between the need to capture everything on film and the joy of putting your camera away and just enjoying what was going on. However, with our son only being 2, we knew his ability to recall of our travels would be limited, although he is proving us wrong on this, but it was important that we recorded as much of this as we could for him in later life.
For now I will ignore the big issue of living your life through a phone and let you guys decide how to balance that. This article will look at the practical elements of how we achieved this.
First up, equipment
Most of the footage we captured was on our DJI spark drone and our iPhone which was carried in a DJI Osmo mobile. The drone was a fantastic addition to our kit bag and we were able to get footage from a completely different perspective of many of the destinations. It is so small that it fits easily into a small camera bag or rucksack and the quality of the footage for such a small drone is amazing. DJI have recently launched a couple other drones of similar size which are well worth looking at, such as the new Mavic Mini.
However, taking a drone around the world did come with its own challenges. Some countries are very restrictive about usage (and rightly so) and on occasions we had to leave the drone at a hotel for a couple weeks and pick it up again as we were passing back through. I am not a fan of anything I do impacting another traveller negatively either, so rather than launch the drone in the middle of a crowded area, I would always go somewhere far away from people. This meant that people did not get annoyed by my drone usage but unfortunately not everyone is as considerate and so other operators do sometimes give the use of drones a bad name.
Please do check the rules and regulations for drone usage in each country as they differ and make sure you obey wherever you travel. This amazing map is a great starting point.
The DJI Osmo mobile was also a great piece of kit and the difference between non gimbal footage and footage taken with a gimbal is massive. It is much smoother, much easier to watch and of a much higher quality. We have since swapped out our DJI Osmo mobile for a DJI Osmo pocket which is a tiny gimbal camera that fits into your….pocket. Does what is says on the tin. We carry this camera everywhere with us and whilst not perfect, it works really well for us and wish that it had been available when we set off travelling.
Some things to consider
We did also carry a GoPro but to be honest, we never really used it. Not that it is not a great piece of kit but I find it hard to use and there are so many settings to choose from that I get lost and confused. Trying to match it to footage I have taken with the drone or mobile was near impossible for me. Perhaps the new DJI Osmo Action would solve this problem but I have to wait until I see if Santa got my list.
The other issue that many people face is where to put all the footage you capture once your memory cards start looking a bit full up. I have chatted with professional videographers and photographers and it is fair to say this is a problem that everyone faces. If someone can design a solution for this they will be loved by many. The issue is how reliable is your back up. You end up backing up your back up. And then to be sure you back up your back up which is backing up your back up. Google photos is great but the free version reduces the quality of the images so you have to use the paid version. iCloud also works but I can never get my head round all this. Our solution was an external hard drive, our preference was the La Cie rugged. Not cheap but it does put up with the rigours of travel a bit better than most. We had two of these just in case one did fail and then put everything onto google photos too.
Be warned, once you start into buying kit like this, there is no way out. If you want to up your game you may need to consider filters. A good kit bag is a necessary too and we found this one from LowePro perfect for our needs. It comes with inserts and cases so keeping things organised was very easy.
Keep the memories alive and inspire conversations
But of course, there is no point spending all this time, money and energy into taking the most amazing footage and then doing nothing with it. Luckily technology is on your side. Many of the products I have listed above come with their own apps to help you take amazing shots but also have built in editors that can turn your footage into pro like movies. However, a lot of these are quite basic and will only do short movies. I ended up with hours and hours of footage and relied on Apple iMovie and now Final Cut Pro to edit them into something usable. It will take a bit of time and effort to get used to how the editing software works but they are accessible to everyone and I highly recommend giving them a go. Just after our travels I was asked to do some consultancy work in adventure travel and had to spend a lot of time flying from the Middle East to the UK. I used this time on board to create an 11-minute movie with all the highlights of our adventure and even one year on, my son still watches this at least 2 or 3 times a week. It is a fantastic way to keep the memories alive and inspire conversations about where we will travel next and what out next adventure might entail.
Read more: Our destinations
Of course, with all this, there are many other products and brands out there for camera, software, bags and everything else. This is simply a summary of what I used and what works for us.