I’ve seen it many times: someone brings a beautiful, expensive, and fragile DSLR camera on a family whitewater rafting trip…and leaves it packed away 95% of the time. Don’t get me wrong: the photos produced from said camera are amazing, but so few and far between! Instead, I leave my DSLR at home in favor of my low cost, waterproof, sand-proof, and dust proof point-and-shoot camera. And it sees a lot of action. Bring a camera you’re not afraid to get wet, dirty, and scratched, then try the following for great whitewater photos (and memories):
Sit backward on the raft
Every once in a while, forego participating in the action of a mild series of rapids, and sit facing backward on an oar boat. I’ve found this to be the ideal location to catch great shots of the raft or ducky directly behind me.
Give the camera to the kids
It’s not the expensive model, remember? Some of my favorite photos of myself have been taken by little kids. Are they the best shots ever? No, but at least I’m in them!
Get into the water
Try taking some shots from water-level perspective. Standing in the water with the camera at the waterline, capture your kids’ heads emerging from a jump into the river, or the splash after a cannonball.
Don’t forget video mode
Take plenty of video in addition to still shots. This way, you can stop trying to get that perfect action shot, and simply look through your video footage later for the right frame. Alternatively, bring an action camera or Go Pro and mount it on your helmet (or your kid’s).
Get above the action
Some of my favorite rafting photos are taken from above, with the river or camp spread out below. These photos do a great job of showing scale (and always wow your friends at home).
Have the camera ready at sunrise and sunset
The mid-day sun can be brutal on the water, making rafting shots difficult to time.Walk down to the water at sunrise or sunset for the best still shots of rafts and river.
Don’t forget about camp photos
You definitely want to capture camp life. Some of our favorite whitewater rafting photos were taken around the campfire, eating a meal, or setting up our tent. A point-and-shoot camera is easy to stash in a pant pocket to have at the ready. Snapping photos of those endless card games after dinner or those sunset watches on the sandy river shore will remind you later why you felt so relaxed on the river. Lastly, don’t forget to snap photos with your rafting guides (with permission). You’ll want to remember these friendly, energetic people who made your trip the success it was!