Family And Group Travel Photography Tips
Travel photography would not be complete without parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren. This genre can both be personally rewarding and visually intriguing as different generations are displayed and can be compared side by side.
People are fascinated with aging so for example a portrait of a grandmother and granddaughter can stir up a wide variety of emotions in different viewers. There is a special quality to these family photos, as most parents love to show off their children to the camera.
Based on my 9-month travel photography trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, the exception where parents are not eager to show off their family members, were busy tourist traps and the land of the camera-shy flower Hmong hill tribe minorities in Northern Vietnam.
Travel portrait photography of flower Hmong son holding his father’s hand
There was nowhere to run and nowhere hide – could have been the initial response of the flower Hmong father and son as I encountered them on a narrow mountain road, outside Bac Ha, Vietnam.
I had very limited time (enough for 3 frames) to make something out of a rare opportunity when I could photograph Hmong people and get their undivided attention.
This composition was created on autopilot, from my subconscious, based on the most appealing framing I could come up with in a split second. I love the result and I love that only the father’s hand is in the frame.
Travel portrait photography of Hmong hill tribe father and son in Bac Ha, Vietnam
Another meeting took place with the same father and son some time later, at their house. Due to he language barrier there were no verbal instructions. The son still bewildered by the strange looking foreigner with a camera, fortunately found comfort and security close to his father so a nice portrait could be captured with strong, direct eye-contact.
Family portrait photography of Cambodian mother and baby daughter
Cambodian mother and baby daughter photographed at a very poor neighborhood in Kampong Cham. The mom was glowing and was very proud to have her daughter in the picture. The open shade provided soft, diffused light which is perfect for portraits.
Family portrait photography of Cambodian grandmother and grandson
Often times when an impromptu family photography session starts, other parents also quickly join the activities. Cambodian grandmother and grandson photographed at same location. The yellow, red and blue colors add a lot of vibrance and liveliness to the photograph.
Travel portrait photography of flower Hmong father and son
The location where I met this flower Hmong father and son, was really off the beaten path, outside Bac Ha in Northern Vietnam – where I was walking amongst picturesque landscape. Due to the height difference, at first I had a hard time creating a close-cropped composition to my liking.
The wall of the family house made of mud created a great background so I knew I wanted to experiment with different compositions.
When in doubt, always shoot in both portrait and landscape format. There are no second takes in travel photography, and returning to the same locations days, or even minutes later doesn’t guarantee that a magical moment can be re-shot. Also: in the future, there can be specific uses for different formats and aspect ratios.
Street photography of father giving his son wrapped in the Vietnamese flag a haircut
As I was riding my bike outside Ninh Binh, Vietnam I saw a scene that was the result of simply perfect timing: a father giving his son wrapped in the Vietnamese flag a haircut!
The eye catching red and yellow national flag is often displayed not only on holidays and they make a great addition street photography compositions as red always pops in images. But this unconventional use of the flag was such a random and unique visual, that I had to name this day one of the luckiest photography days of my trip.
Street portrait photography of Vietnamese father and son
What do I like about this street portrait of father and son? Great eye contact, excellent uncluttered seamless background, lack of almost all colors except the bright vest of the child.
Family street portrait photography of Vietnamese grandmother and granddaughter
This street portrait grandmother and granddaughter perfectly illustrates how compelling aging can be. I like the subtle hit of separation of generations, drawn by the line between the two figures by the door. Lucky lighting again: soft, diffused illumination from overcast sky.
Street photography of Vietnamese grandfather and granddaughter
Due to the height difference between grandfather and granddaughter, I had to step back but in this case, the wide angle composition actually benefited from the interesting background. Attentive viewers will also notice the fake hand of the grandfather.
Travel portrait photography of flower Hmong mother and daughter
After a few dollars were paid to this flower Hmong family, I was allowed to take a few images. As soon as finances enter the picture, I know that the results may not be natural enough. There is often a perceived time limit and the number of frames to be shot. While a travel photographer would probably like at least a dozen or so images, the subjects may have a different frame of mind and can quickly get impatient or frazzled enough, so that the photos will not be keepers.
Street portrait photography of Cambodian mother and daughter living in poverty
Contrasting moods captured of mother and daughter, in front of their “shack”. People in this area are living in poverty, and getting by on about one dollar a day. Although the mom had much more cheerful moments in front of my camera, this frame captured her worries. The open shade allowed for saturated colors and skin tones.
Cultural travel photography of flower Hmong mother feeding her son
Hmong mother photographed feeding her son with rice noodle soup, using a telephoto lens, at a famous, traditional Sunday market in Bac ha, Vietnam.
Travel portrait photography of flower Hmong mother carrying her son
Due to the camera shyness of the Hmong people, most photography had to be done at long focal lengths, which kind of turned travel photography into paparazzi photography.
Family street photography of Vietnamese daughter watching her father work
A wide angle lens allowed to include quite a lot of the scene, even though the alley was really narrow. Fortunately both father an daughter decided to completely ignore my so I was able to take this “fly on the wall” image.
Street travel photography of Vietnamese grandmother feeding her grandson
Besides capturing an age old moment of a grandmother feeding her grandson, I was happy about the bright color of the house in the background and the strong straight lines, which made this composition really geometric.
Street photography of Vietnamese mother and son sitting at family business
A casual, impromptu, walk-by shot early in the morning of mother and son sitting at family food stand. The mom noticed her son’s morning, grumpy attitude, which made her laugh.
Travel photography of proud grandfather showing off his grandson
Well, just to prove, grandparents are the same everywhere in this world: proud grandfather showing off his grandson in the off the beaten path, picturesque village of Kenh Ga, Vietnam.
Family travel photography of Vietnamese grandmother and granddaughter
Grandmother and granddaughter giving that familiar “aliens just landed” stare, that many travel photographers are familiar with. Location: of course, off the beaten path, outside Chau Doc, Vietnam