Recently, we visited family in Colorado and had the luxury of being driven around to see all the sights the beautiful mountainous country has to offer. However, as a photographer, I would like to stop for extended periods of time to really explore the scenery, find the right shot, experiment with different compositions, and fine-tune my exposure—all of which take time.

Unfortunately, my family isn’t as enthusiastic about waiting around while I have an intimate moment with my tripod.

The non-photographers in the travel group, which is everyone but me, are always ready to move to the next point of interest just as I’m beginning to get a feel for the vista before me. If only my camera were capable of magic, snapping perfect shots at the speed of light.

What’s a photographer to do? I wish I had a real answer. In some cases, if I know that I’m going to be able to make it back, I will treat the family outing as a scouting trip, jotting down notes of locations and compositions to try upon my return.

However, sometimes this may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and in those cases, there are few options other than risk annoying your family as they wait and twiddle their thumbs back at the car while you endlessly plod around the countryside looking for the perfect photograph.

Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said,

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on Earth which can make them come back again.” [1]

This quote beautifully encapsulates the photographer’s perspective and the challenge we face when balancing our passion with the impatience of non-photographers. My family might argue that the only thing vanishing is their patience.

Learning to walk the tightrope of chasing the perfect photograph while keeping your family happy is an art in itself. Sometimes, it means accepting that you can’t capture every moment as you’d like. Other times, it involves finding creative ways to incorporate quick snapshots into the family itinerary or negotiating a few extra minutes at particularly scenic spots. Ultimately, it’s about understanding and appreciating both your passion and your family’s desire to enjoy the journey without constant interruptions. So, while I may dream of endless golden hours, I’ve learned that sometimes the best shots are the ones you take quickly, just before your loved ones stage a coup.

[1] Source: Henri Cartier-Bresson (2005). “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers”, Aperture