This past summer, my lovely mother-in-law planned a Tahoe vacation for the whole family – kids, spouses, grandkids, even our guinea pigs joined the fun! We spent a week in King’s Beach eating, paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking, and crystal hunting (almost all of my current crystal collection came from Wellbeing Tahoe!). (The husband and I also got the most peaceful, relaxing couples’ massages there, too, but I do not have photos of that. 😉 )
Cabin on the Lake
Our rental unit was right on the lake with the water just a few steps from our back deck. We had access to a kayak and paddle board for the week, along with tons of pool and beach toys. The week started off cloudy and a bit chilly, so we spent the first day hanging out at the pool and taking in cloudy views of the lake.
Between the cousins, aunties, uncle, and grandparents, Henry had a playmate pretty much every moment of the day if he wanted one! He was basically in heaven lol. I tried to snag ‘family portraits’ as much as possible on this trip. I wanted everything from imperfect candids to sweet, smiling posed shots. Henry is very expressive and I love that you can tell exactly how he felt about family swim time, leaving the pool when it was time for lunch, and learning to ride his scooter just by looking at one shot of him in the moment. Ha!
The town of Kings Beach was about a 10-15 minute walk from our rental. Most days, we walked to the beach (some of us paddle boarded instead!) and broke up the sand-and-sun time with leisurely strolls through town for smoothies, coffee, and ice cream. And while we cooked most of our meals at home, none of us could resist the deliciously dangerous smell of grilled burgers wafting from the Char Pit. After a round of mini-golf (where Henry was literally the ONLY one who got a hole-in-one on the final shot and won a free game!), we headed over for burgers and milkshakes. It was the perfect way to wrap up the week.
I’m On A Boat!
We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon taking in the views from the middle of Lake Tahoe thanks to my MIL’s friend who graciously took us out on his boat. He even let Henry “drive” for a little while!
The water was so perfectly blue and clear. I was actually a little concerned that the sapphire color wouldn’t come through in photos. The quickies I shot on my iPhone just didn’t do it justice. But silly me for doubting the power of film! Portra 400 captured the gleaming blue water beautifully.
Shooting Film Only on Family Vacation
Yes, that’s right. I said film. One of my goals for 2019 was to shoot more personal photos on film. I didn’t even take my dslr with me for this family vacation! I packed a couple rolls of 35mm film and a couple packs of instant film (Henry loves shooting with my Fuji Instax) and that’s it. Of course, I had my iPhone on hand so I did grab a few digital shots with it, but the majority of the week -everything in this post- was captured on good ol’ Portra 400.
So, why shoot film? For me, it’s the best compromise between being 100% present in the moment and being just an observer of the moment. When I shoot events and outings with my dslr, I go into full on photojournalist mode. I capture everything exactly as it unfolds without much interference on my end. While that fly-on-the-wall approach worked great when I was shooting weddings, I find it awkward for personal stuff. With family events (and by ‘events’ I mean any activities with family not just big monumental stuff ), I want to actually participate and be a part of what’s happening. But I also want to document it and steal that moment away from Father Time. Ugh, the photographer’s dilemma.
My solution to this is shooting all personal stuff on film. With film, I’m limited by the number of frames I can shoot, which forces me to be much more thoughtful and selective about which moments I choose to step away from to capture. And since there’s no instant preview, there’s no time wasted in analyzing the shot on the spot and attempting to redo it or one-up it. (Plus, no chance for picky subjects to ask for a redo either!) My film cameras are also quieter and less intrusive than my dslr so they tend to distract less, too. Sure, there are some limitations especially when it comes to low-light scenarios, but those limitations force me to be more creative!
Plus, you just can’t beat how it handles highlights and, my personal fave, skies. #filmskiesforever See that jump shot above? I truly don’t believe even my best dslr could have captured both the shadow details and the highlight details of the clouds in the background with that bright afternoon sun.
And perhaps the most meaningful reason I shoot personal stuff on film is that, to me, film looks the way memories feel. Something about the way colors are rendered and the way textures pop. The medium has nostalgia built in and it gives me a cozy-warm feeling deep down in my heart just looking at prints made from film. I know I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, too. If I were, retro filters and film-mimicking presets wouldn’t be so dang popular right now!
So tell me, would you ever take a weeklong family vacation at the lake? And if so, how would you choose to document it?