I’ve always promoted “living in the moment”. I practice being present everyday, but especially when I travel. I particularly love traveling with my family: Brian, Lucas and Max. I had the thought one day before heading to New York City with the kids, “what better way to capture us (in the moment) than to hire professional capturer?!” My new found pleasure is that when I travel, we hire a photographer to follow us for 1-3 hours as we first discover our visiting city. We simply walk to parks, museums, restaurants, cafes, etc., while our photographer captures us in action: smiling, talking, eating, …living! One of my favorite photos is standing in a crowded subway with passerby’s, chaos, movement, spirit. Our holiday card this year was a black and white photo of us walking through the Flat Iron District with a caption “JOYFUL” because that’s exactly what we felt, joyful.
I’m feeling more and more that we walk through life without truly documenting it. Aside from Facebook and Instagram posts, it’s rarely in the form of a story. A depiction of a day, a trip, a family gathering. Just as the photographer on your wedding day told a story through photos, so is this idea to tell a story of an ordinary day without coordinating outfits, a tuxedo or cake cutting pose. It’s a story of a day in the life of your family being present, living in the moment and then witnessing it through pictures for many years to follow.
Here’s my method:
1. One or two months before I travel I jump online to research photographers in that city. I narrow it down to my top 3.
2. Two weeks before I travel, I reach out to them. I try to stay away from weekends because they tend to cost more. If this photographer has not booked anything a couple weeks out, he/she is motivated to work.
3. I negotiate per hour. I think $100-300 per hour is fair –remember that it’s not simply their time with you, it’s the editing post-event that costs them time and money.
4. I coordinate outfits but not really. I want a day in the life of my family, not a contrived posed studio session. I keep the colors and styles similar, but aim to keep it real.
5. I plan the course/path of travel through the visiting city. For example: we start at the hotel and take the subway to the Whitney Museum but duck into the Grand Terminal Station for a quick photo or two. As you’re walking past your favorite store in SoHo, have the photographer snap a photo of you looking through the racks of clothing. –this too is telling your story. We grab iced coffee and juices at a coffee shop (Starbucks, etc) and finish in the park.
6. Keep it short. 1-2 hours for the inexperienced is best. No more than 3 hours if your kids are older and can handle the walking, posing, etc.
Note: I ask the photographer to join us for lunch or dinner as a treat to him and maybe he’ll take a couple extra images??
That’s it. That’s my idea of seizing the moment on your next excursion. Before you know it, we’re going to be midway through our life expectancy with few depicted images of “life”. It’s so fun and easy to make this happen. Just do it!
All NYC photos captured by Dennis Kwan Photography, Copyright © 2016 by Dennis Kwan.