Her work has been featured in several publications, interviews and exhibitions. In 2015 she was listed as one of the top 100 photographers to watch. Her and her husband are passionate about travelling and sharing this great big beautiful world with their two daughters. If you visit her websites and/or Instagram page you will see what I mean, there is just something magical about their travels. I seriously enjoy following their journey. So without further ado….
Welcome Kirsty to Childhood Unplugged! We are so very thrilled to be featuring you on our blog. Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
Hello and thank you for having me here. I’m a British photographer-Mama, with an Irish husband and two daughters who were born in China and the United Arab Emirates. We are based in Abu Dhabi, but lucky enough to spend a lot of time on the road exploring the beauty the big wide world has to offer.
It is no secret for anyone who is familiar with your Instagram page that you and your family have a serious case of wanderlust and absolutely love to travel! As a mom myself with three boys, I can’t imagine traveling that much. What is your secret to long term traveling with children? Do the girls ever get homesick? Do you?
Because our kids were born overseas we’ve travelled since they arrived, both through sheer necessity, and for fun because I always believe in making the most out of where you happen to be. I think having your first child in a developing country is either crazy, or very wise in terms of making you just get on with things and taking all that motherhood throws at you in your stride. Had I had a different start to my mothering journey I might not have been able to embrace some of the chaos that our travels bring and to find calm ways of doing it! We take our long term travels one day at a time – there are bad ones as well as incredible ones, but we’ve always raised our girls with a strong sense that wherever we are together is home, and whilst sometimes we miss the familiarity of one place we learn to rely on each other as a unit very much. When we spent a whole year on the road I did miss my bed and routine, but of course within a couple of months of being home the wanderlust was playing with my head again!
You have a successful photography business in Abu Dhabi and just recently launched a breakout session with Clickin Mom’s photo school called “Photography on the Fly”. When did you know that documenting for others through photography was something that was calling you? How do you balance it with all your traveling? Do you photograph families abroad also?
I am so very lucky with my business in Abu Dhabi because I meet people from literally all over the world, and that fuels my wanderlust, but also the two things work in tandem as it helps me to bond with my clients if I’ve experienced their home and culture, or when clients call me up for advice on a place they’re considering for a holiday – it’s become such a wonderful way of connecting to people.
“Photography on the Fly” came about because I’ve had to learn to be able to photograph literally anywhere!! Both in my client work, which can be in people’s homes, or the beach or desert or in the city, and in my own travels – it’s a guide to making the photography process so instinctive that you can shoot in your own personal style whereever you are and I have loved being able to guide people to have that confidence and belief in themselves.
I do photograph families as I travel and am lucky that living in an expat community means people pass on recommendations when I travel to friends who are in different places, or often my clients have moved on and I get to see them in their new homes – I love making those global connections. Because so much can be done online these days it works great when I travel as I can communicate before a shoot, and then place orders or send digital files from anywhere I have great wifi!
Your family took a year to travel from Abu Dhabi to Ireland and back. That had to be absolutely amazing! What life lessons do you think your girls took away the most from in that year?
That year was wonderful. We travelled slowly enough and we had plenty of time to just be together, and yet saw enough that we took away lots of incredible memories. I think the girls learned about teamwork and compromise from that year – they also learned about hard work, determination and resilience – and they learned a lot of real life skills, from cooking a chili in the desert to changing a tire! But I think most of all they learned that people wherever we travelled were kind, and if you choose kindness you’ll get it back.
As a family, what has been your most memorable travel destination to date that you would say has had the most impact on all of you?
I think Iran had the most impact, again because the people were so incredibly kind. Living in the Middle East we are no strangers to people’s perceptions about this part of the world, so travelling to one of the less visited parts and finding even more of this incredible warmth from the people, coupled with openness for us to visit their religious and historic sights which were quite incredible was really eye-opening and made us fall in love with the country.
Do you have a favorite image? If so, please share and tell us why it’s your most cherished one.
The image of my husband and girls reading Harry Potter in a little village guesthouse in Iran is so typically our family. Lying on the carpeted floor, being together (although there may have been some arguments over who got to read and who got to lie where!) and just being us. It’s not staged, or perfectly composed, and honestly, that doesn’t matter because it has such meaning to me.
You and your family wake up one Saturday morning with no plans in sight. How would you all most likely spend that day?
Over here our weekend is Friday, which takes some getting used to!! The day would start with snuggles in bed – even at age 10 our oldest daughter wouldn’t miss that time – and then some heated debate over what we should do which would be season dependent (is it hot, very hot or crazy hot!?) and would probably result in us making bread, chilling out for the morning and then collecting some groceries and heading out to our favourite area, the desert, for a BBQ – it really is the most beautiful place. Sometimes we stay over and camp with friends, other times we head back to town after dinner.
What are some of your daughter’s favorite unplugged activities? Activities as a family? (other than traveling:)
LOL, other than travelling? – I love to ski and am happy to have passed that love onto the family – the girls also love rugby, and we’re secret geocaching nerds so we’re often out and about getting fresh air and finding geocache treasures. The girls are big Harry Potter fans so on a weekend we often play HP cluedo after dinner!! We all love music and dance too and my youngest seems to be doing well at Irish dancing, much to the delight of our families! I’ve always encouraged the girls to do things that burn off energy so they sleep well – good sleep is very important to this Mama!
How do you incorporate schooling with all the traveling?
We have always world schooled our girls, believing that we should all learn from and be inspired by the world around us. This means learning geology as you stand on the continental divide, or art as you wander the halls of the Guggenheim, or about Central Asian architecture in the cities of the silk route. It means embracing the opportunities for learning presented by the environment you’re in and by your own personal interests rather than by what you should know at a certain age. Our girls have been lucky enough to supplement that with learning at an incredible international school when we have a home base in Abu Dhabi – which is great as I’m not really very disciplined at leading the kids on the more academic subjects!
Do you set long term goals for new countries you would like to visit? If so, what’s next?
We are always throwing around ideas for where we’d like to travel next and what we’d like to do. We’ve always included an element of giving back in our travels but as our girls mature we’d like that to be more of a focus for us all. South America remains unexplored by us, but we always have this pull back to India so really who knows. We just got back from a two month journey by train from Hong Kong to England, (so lots of my recent photos are of the inside of train compartments!) and that trip was completely driven by the girls interests as they wanted to take the Trans-Siberian and Saffy wanted to visit places she’d seen as a baby when we lived in China. We are heading into the tween years and the girls attitudes to travel and how we live are changing so for now, we are lucky to be able to live this life but we know that it may well evolve into something else in the future.
Social Media Links:
TRAVEL BLOG: www.lettersfromthelarmours.com
PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG: www.kirstylarmourblog.com