Contributor Spotlight: Eric Stoen
For Eric Stoen, travel photography is both a career and a hobby. Eric is not only the family travel writer behind Travel Babbo, he’s also a dad of three, who loves documenting his adventures around the world with his family. In this Contributor Spotlight, Eric shares his beautiful photographs, as well as some tips on how other parents can snap better pictures of their family vacations.
HI ERIC! COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?
I’ve been married to my wife, Missy, for 14 years. Our kids are Evelyn, 12, Henry, 10, and Sadie, 8.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK?
We live in southern California. I’m a family travel writer.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?
We’re adventurous luxury travelers. Whether we’re in southern Patagonia or an European city, we like to stay in the best hotels. But that doesn’t mean the most expensive. It could mean the coolest lodge, or the hotel in the best location, or the iconic place that’s been around for 100 years.
THAT'S A COOL APPROACH TO TRAVEL. NOW, LET'S TALK PHOTOGRAPHY. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH PHOTOGRAPHY?
I grew up spending time in my grandfather’s darkroom, and I always had a camera. I don’t know that if my love for photography really started until the early 2000s though, with my first digital camera. It was so much more satisfying to instantly see my shots and be able to make adjustments, rather than wait a week to get my pictures back and then be disappointed with my shots!
DIGITAL CAMERAS CERTAINLY REVOLUTIONIZED THE WAY WE TAKE PHOTOS. HOW DO YOU CAPTURE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVELS? WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE?
I travel with a Canon 6DMII DSLR and a 16-35 f/2.8 lens. A lot of the time though, I’ll just shoot with my iPhone.
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR OTHER PARENTS DOCUMENTING THEIR FAMILY'S ADVENTURES?
I try to document our travels without changing our travels. I may ask my kids to pause at a perfect overlook for a few seconds, but in general, I shoot them from behind as they’re adventuring. I rarely pose the kids. We try to live in the moment and not live for Instagram. Easier said than done, but the kids will call me on it and ask me to leave the camera behind for a day so that I’m not even tempted to frame a shot.
I’d encourage others to do roughly the same: Document trips without making every single day, and every activity, about getting the perfect photo. And I’m a big fan of shooting wide, getting as much in the scene as possible. Other tips: Walk around at sunrise to capture your destination without many other tourists there; and don’t take time away from your vacation to process/edit photos, long flights back home are good for that!
We try to live in the moment and not for Instagram.
EXCELLENT ADVICE! HOW DO YOU STORE IMAGES WHEN YOU TRAVEL?
I keep images on the original memory cards until I’m home. I also download to my laptop nightly, and I’ll periodically save photos to an external hard drive.
DO YOU USE ANY PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE?
I use Adobe Lightroom on both my laptop and my phone.
HOW DO YOU SHARE PHOTOS WITH OTHERS?
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GIVE A CHILD THEIR OWN CAMERA?
My kids have enjoyed photography from maybe two years old and onwards, even if they’re just shooting with their iPods/iPads. We’ve bought them better cameras (e.g., Point-and-shoot cameras) at around five years old if they’ve wanted them. It’s fun looking back at their early shots!
I'LL BET! ANY OTHER LESSONS LEARNED FROM BEING A TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER?
Look for the best light and be patient. If you’d love a photo of your kids playing in front of the Coliseum or the Eiffel Tower without others in the shot, make it happen. Head over early in the day, let them play and wait for others to walk out of your shot.