When pictures and video take over

One of the few pix from our recent trip to the San Juans.

One of the few pix from our recent trip to the San Juans.

How many pictures do you take on your family trips? How much video? According to a story in this weekend’s edition of The New York Times, it might be too much.

The piece, which appeared in the Style section (technically it’s Fashion & Style, but I’m old-school), was titled, “That’s a Wrap. What Did I miss?” It investigated the current phenomenon through which traveling families—including kids themselves—feel such a need to document vacations that they run the risk of failing to experience the trip without the help of a lens and screen.

Though the story was a bit superficial (most Style pieces are), it raised some interesting questions. IMHO, the most important one is this: In today’s age of Smartphones and GoPros, how many pictures and/or videos are too much?

It’s a question I ask myself on every trip. My wife is a bit of a Luddite, which means all of the documentation falls on me. I embrace this role because I’m a journalist (and because I’m always thinking about what will make good shots for this blog). At the same time, I shun the role because I’m a huge proponent of living in the moment and I can’t stand having to experience stuff with a device in my face.

(This, of course, is separate from our annual tech-free trip, about which I blogged earlier this month.)

What usually ends up happening is what I like to call the “hunt-and-peck” method of photography. We go places. I keep my phone (a Samsung Galaxy S5) in a manpurse (yes, I carry a manpurse). I whip it out to snap individual photos every now and again. I usually get one or two decent shots. And that’s it.

Because I’m such a spaz about privacy, most of the pictures I do take have nothing but the backs of the girls’ heads. Also, at no point on our family vacations do we do video. And I don’t let the kids use my GoPro (I use it mostly for adventure travel assignments such as this one).

The result? We rarely capture that many images from our trips.

Most of the time, Powerwoman and I are fine with this reality—as parents we share the belief that experiences are the most important part of traveling together as a family (for more on our philosophy, read this and this). When we come home, however, we usually lament the fact that we don’t have pictures of Adventure X or Beach Day Y to print out, frame, and toss on the mantle.

Where does this leave us? Ahead of the game but behind the curve, I guess. I encourage everyone to take fewer pictures, record less video and just BE with your kids on vacation. At the same time, don’t give it up cold turkey. Every now and then a memento or two can be nice and can make you smile.

What’s your approach to pictures and video on vacation and why?

Golden Gate Park by Segway on a family trip

Golden Gate Park is one of the greatest urban parks in the world. It’s even better when you explore it on a Segway.

You know the Segway; that two-wheeled transportation device made famous by the movie, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” The one that looks like a futuristic scooter. The one that simultaneously looks like the dorkiest dorkmobile in the history of humankind.

At least, I thought the things were dorky. After riding one around Golden Gate Park for half a day earlier this summer, I can safely say they are way cooler than I ever thought.

I did the tour as part of an epic two-city road trip I took with my family in June. The trip was on behalf of my client, Expedia. While my wife and kids were back at the hotel (the kids aren’t big enough to ride Segways, and somebody had to watch them), I was tooling around the park and making emu noises as I went.

I shot video as I went, and, when I got home, worked with my pals at Expedia to cut a 3-minute video of the experience. The video was published in mid-July. Finally, I have the opportunity to share it with you here.

So take a peek. Enjoy. Laugh. Cry. And whatever you do, open your mind to the coolness of a Segway. You’ll be glad you did. (And even if you’re not so glad, you’ll have fun pretending to be Paul Blart.)

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