Contributor Spotlight: Julia Aue

As a professional photographer and mom of three, Julie Aue has plenty of experience documenting her family’s travels. From Portugal to Prague, her family of five has traveled all over the world and she has the gorgeous photographs to prove it. In this Photographer Q&A, Julie is sharing all about the kind of camera she uses and her tips for other parents who want to take great photos of their kids.

SAY HELLO TO...

SHE IS MOM TO...

A ten-year-old girl, a seven-year-old boy and a three-year-old boy.

AND LIVES IN...

Davis, California.

HI JULIA! COULD YOU INTRODUCE US TO YOUR FAMILY?

Hi! Louisa is almost 10, Sebastian is 7 and Roman is 3. We live in Davis, California, and I own my own photography business.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?

We like to take in the sights but we definitely don’t overplan our trips. We aim to do one, maybe two, major attractions in a day and the rest is a bonus! You can generally find us checking out the neighborhood breakfast joints in the morning and strolling about in the evening, discovering local parks.

SOUNDS LIKE YOUR TRIPS HAVE A PRETTY RELAXED PACE.

We also love staying in homes and apartments for this reason (and to better accommodate our family of five – both budget and space-wise!).

FOR SURE. LET'S TALK PHOTOGRAPHY! HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH PHOTOGRAPHY?

I’ve always loved taking photos and for a wedding gift, my in-laws gave us a DSLR camera (this was when those were still up-and-coming!). Shortly after the birth of our first child, I decided I really wanted to figure out how to use the camera outside of auto mode. I switched it to manual mode and never looked back. I’m self-taught with the help of lots of practice, YouTube videos and working for free in the beginning!

HOW DO YOU CAPTURE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVELS? WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE?

I like to capture mostly spontaneous and candid moments of my kids. We generally aren’t the stand-and-smile kind of people (my kids are too silly for that!). I travel with a Nikon D810 body and the main lenses I carry are my 35mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8. Lately I’ve also liked using my 20mm f/18. Being able to have a high ISO range on my camera (plus fast lenses) gives me flexibility in many situations.

KIDS CAN BE HARD TO CAPTURE ON CAMERA. WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR OTHER PARENTS DOCUMENTING THEIR FAMILY ADVENTURES?

1. Don’t force the moment.

My best photos come when I capture the kids doing what they love – with me directing them. Some of my favorite photos of are of them chasing bubbles in one of the main squares in Prague. Their smiles are real and the background is fantastic.

2. Get on their level.

See the world as they see it. You’ll be surprised at the details your children see that you may miss. Physically getting down to their level also helps to create intimate photos.

3. Don’t over-document.

Live in the moment. Put the camera away and enjoy the experience. I try to snap a few photos after we’ve enjoyed and experienced a place, rather than immediately after we arrive somewhere. I want my children to realize that getting the best picture isn’t what traveling is all about.

EXCELLENT ADVICE, ESPECIALLY IN THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM. HOW DO YOU STORE IMAGES WHILE TRAVELING?

I mainly use external hard drives. If it’s a short trip, I keep photos on my memory card as a second backup. If it’s a longer trip, I use the cloud or a second hard drive. I always keep two copies after having a hard drive crash a few years ago!

My best photos come when I capture the kids doing what they love - with me directing them.

WHICH PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE DO YOU RECOMMEND?

I use Adobe Lightroom.

HOW DO YOU SHARE YOUR PHOTOS?

I mainly use Instagram and Facebook. Every year I print a family photo album as well (or a trip-specific one). We also love the square prints from Artifact Uprising and change those around in our home.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GIVE A CHILD THEIR OWN CAMERA?

Still trying to figure that one out. We tried a few years ago when our older children were five and seven, but it seemed like more work for me! Now I’ll let them use my iPhone or my camera if they want to take a photo. That way I’m not dealing with two or three extra devices to get and sort pictures from.

THAT MAKES SENSE. ANY OTHER LESSONS LEARNED FROM BEING A TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER?

Tell a story with your photos and be picky about what you photograph. Don’t take a picture just for the sake of taking a picture. Learn how to use your camera well so that you can be ready to snap a good photo when the opportunity presents itself!

Tell a story with your photos and be picky about what you photograph.