We get why photographers who are parents would choose not to bring their little ones along on a photo shoot with them. But these days, we’re seeing more and more photographers like Adrian Sommeling, Elena Shumilova, Lisa Holloway, Adrian Murray, and Suzy Mead involve their own kids in the process.

Photographer couple Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim with their baby

In this story, we’ll meet Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim who have managed to make parenting and photo shoots work. Not only do they travel to the world’s most scenic places with their babies on their back—they come out of it with awe-inspiring and breathtaking landscape photographs.

How do they do it? Scroll down to find out! If you’re a photographer parent yourself, you’ll get some great family-friendly photography tips from this dynamic duo.

At work with a baby on board

How To Shoot Landscapes While Travelling With An Infant
by Dylan Toh

Living the life of a photographer chasing light is tiring. Living the life of a parent looking after a young child is tiring. Combine the two, and it has the recipe to be even more exhausting. But combine them successfully, and it can be all the more rewarding.

At work

Marianne and I have been shooting landscapes professionally since 2008. In 2010, we embarked on the trip of our lives—three months of travel and constant shooting, plus starting a family when we arrived home. It was then that we realized our ability to produce landscape images may significantly decrease, particularly during our children’s infant years. But we held on to the idea that we could introduce the natural world to our kids, stage by stage, by bringing them along on our photo shoots whenever—and wherever—possible. In our travels, we try not to let travel be for travel’s sake. Here are some tips and advice, based on our own experiences in shooting landscapes around the world with our babies Charlotte and Jaime on our backs.

1. Invest in a good carrier. If you plan on doing shoots with a child on your back, you absolutely need to find a carrier that is comfortable for both child and parent. We use a Macpac Possum, which was able to comfortably hold Charlotte until just past the age of two; albeit she has been a small child all of her life. Get your infant used to being in the carrier for as long as you think you might need for the shoots that you are planning. We were fortunate that both Charlotte and Jaime not only enjoyed their time in the carrier, but often fell asleep. Get yourself used to manipulating tripods, squatting, and doing Twister game-style gymnastics with a weight on your back—safely, of course.

2. Give your kids some healthy distractions. We always made sure that Charlotte was well-fed before heading out on a shoot. Complaints could also be dealt with by providing some snacks we knew she would enjoy such as dried apricots—by the pocketful! If I am shooting with Charlotte on my back, I’ve found that going into the shoot with long exposures in mind helps. This gives one the opportunity of keeping mobile (something which infants prefer over standing still) while the bulb exposure is running.

3. Modify your day. It’s important to plan and fit in any photo shoot that coincide with your child at their happiest! Not surprisingly, this tends to be after a nap and after a good feed. If your child sleeps well in the car, this can be used to calculate transit time with nap time between locations.

4. Share the load. Marianne and I are lucky that we both share the same passion for photography. While one of us is shooting, the other is primarily caring for Charlotte. Before Charlotte could walk, it was easier. Both of us could shooting and she would stay in the carrier, chatting away. After the age of 18 months, we found that one of us would have to take her out of the carrier to entertain her, so that the other could focus on shooting without distraction.

5. Accept that you are a parent and compromise. With a young child, we have come to accept that we cannot visit as many places as we used to. We’ve accepted that we cannot always be there for the light, and we cannot drop everything at the hint of great shooting conditions. We also believe that it is important to bring our baby along on these journeys, rather than leave her at home with relatives. Though pure photography is compromised, this way we achieve what is more important to us: giving Charlotte an amazing life experience away from home.

Charlotte Wanaka075201D

6. Safety first! Without a child, we can take some calculated risks, like wading across deep streams, or standing on the edge of sea shelves and near cliff edges. Keep in mind that with a child on your back who is likely to wiggle unexpectedly, your balance is somewhat altered. Go slow and keep safe. That shot is not worth getting if you or your child stands to suffer for it.

7. The kid must win. The overriding piece of advice that we give is that no matter the light, no matter the weather, the child’s needs should always come first. We can put up with a little complaining here and there, which is expected when we are on a shoot. But if that distressing cry (which parents learn to recognize early) starts to appear, at least one of us will bail out on the shoot. The child also wins if you are able to safely pull off all of our tips above. We hope that these bits of advice will point you and your family toward a win-win situation.

Dylan Toh, Marianne Lim, and kids

We hope you found Dylan and Marianne’s tips helpful! For inspiration, scroll down to see some of the spectacular landscapes they’ve captured:

To see more of their work, follow Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim on 500px. You can also connect with them by visiting their website, their blog, or following their Facebook page.

Got any questions for Dylan and Marianne about their images and shooting process? Leave a comment below!