The Real World

William Gray, editor of and an award-winning and photographer shares some of his favourite photographs

The Real World

Travelling with your kids offers a brilliant opportunity to get them back into ‘The Real World’ – that elusive realm beyond the three- of and PSPs that all us parents constantly strive to lure our children to. When the arrive it’s all-too-easy for them to ‘default’ to Xbox mode, but travel – whether it’s a weekend in Guernsey or a week in the – has the ability to bring kids back from the ‘virtual brink’; to put them back in touch with nature and appreciate just what an amazing Real World it is that they live in. It’s one of the main reasons why I love being a journalist – and have always tried to include my family in the assignments I take for magazines and newspapers.


The wildlife of Darwin’s Enchanted Isles poses beautifully for photographers – whether it’s blue-footed boobies performing their or lounging about on a beach. In this image I wanted to capture the quiet as my daughter sat amongst the land-blubbers. The looming added drama to the scene.

The Real World Kenya

Tsavo National Park, Kenya

15 years ago I would have been obsessed with getting a close-up of these elephants, gathered around a waterhole in Tsavo. Nowadays, though, I’m more interested in photographing the reaction of my family to incredible sights like this.

Child with elephant The Real world south Africa

South Africa

Often the ‘magical moments’ are fleeting and you need to have your camera ready and focused on your child’s face, waiting for the spontaneous smile or look of disbelief. Preparing for an elephant-back safari in South Africa, one of the jumbos reached out with his trunk to sniff my son – and this is the result.

The Real World

Taken in India

Sometimes you notice your children quietly absorbed with something – a cricket in this photo – and you need to grab a candid shot before the moment passes and they become too self-conscious for a natural looking photograph.

the real world rhinos

One of the best ways, of course, to encourage children to engage with the ‘real world’ is to give them a camera and let them record it themselves. Here, Joe zooms in on white rhino in a private game reserve near Lake Navaisha in Kenya.

The Real World paw prints

A Jackal Print

A good guide can elevate a family adventure into something really special. On safari, for example, a guide will train your children to identify wildlife by their droppings and tracks. From the moment our guide started scooping up giraffe pellets as if they were chocolate-coated raisins, or breaking open elephant dung like freshly baked bread, our twins immediately elevated him to hero status. Here, my son places his hand next to the fresh track of a jackal.

snails in palm of hand

Handful of Snails

Hands-on. It’s great to see kids getting to grips with something other than a Wii controller. On a walk along the Cornish coast near Land’s End, my son decided to make a living collection of different coloured snails.

real world in cornwall, seaweed

Smiley Seaweed Face

For a book I was working on (Cornwall with Kids) I was looking for an opening image that captured the simple pleasures of a beach holiday in the UK. My daughter presented me with the answer during a rainy day on a pebbly beach.

crabbing in Devon England, the real world

Crabbing, Lymouth

 Sometimes, shots need to be set up. In this one of my children crabbing off the slipway at Lynmouth in North Devon, I needed to make sure that there was clear space (the sea) for text to go over, and also that nothing crucial (ie the children) would be lost in the spine of a magazine or brochure if it was used as a double-page-spread.

The Real World in Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia

Ultimately, though, spontaneity is best – and much more fun. After climbing to the top of a 300m tall sand dune in the Namib Desert, my daughter (then four years old) decided that this was the moment in her life for the ultimate roly-poly. She slid and somersaulted down the entire face of the dune, while I ran beside her, shooting from the hip. Our guide (headless, top right) was left standing…

The REal World

Masai Mara, Kenya

 Travelling with kids is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about new cultures – in this case the Maasai, who were proud to demonstrate their fire-making skills. This photo shows the importance of getting down to a child’s level when photographing them in order to capture their expressions and ‘get involved’ in what they’re doing. I often place the camera on the ground for shots like these.

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Family travel is also a chance for children to see incredible sights – like the horsetail plume of Seljalandsfoss in Iceland. Hopefully they’ll remember visiting places like this for the rest of their lives. And I don’t think Nintendo have come up with anything yet that simulates the ground-trembling rumble of a mighty waterfall, or the feeling of cool spray on your face. Nothing really beats The Real World.

To find our more about William Gray and view more of his photographs, visit and follow on Twitter @William_D_Gray

To buy William’s Lifestyle Guide to traveling with Kids to Cornwall, visit  and if in the UK Amazon.UK

Write for ThePlanetD – Travel Series

Write for ThePlanetD. We have an ongoing Inspiration Series where fellow travellers share articles like this. Has travel changed your life? Has travel made you a better person? Did you find the love of your life, your passion or your purpose during your travels? Did you  meet someone who Inspired you, or have one incredible experience that you’ll never forget? We want to hear your travel stories. Be it your greatest adventure or most life affirming moment. Send your ideas to and check out our writing guidelines for more details or read our call out to writers.

Read the original post The Real World on Adventure Travel blog for Couples | The Planet D.

About debndave