When we were in Miami (you can read all about our trip here), we went to a place called Wynwood Walls. Wynwood Walls is a free outdoor museum, created by a man named Tony Goldman, who bought a few buildings in a not so stellar Miami neighborhood and then commissioned a bunch of big name street artists to paint them.

The result is street art heaven, with tons of opportunities to take pics in front of amazing murals. Or as my husband would call it, “Instagram Hell.”

Because I love art and a good photo op, Wynwood Walls was on the top of my list to visit in Miami, even though the kids made it pretty clear that they would rather be hanging by the pool. When we pulled up, Mazzy saw the massive murals and was immediately excited, “Oh! This is COOL, mom!” “Yeah, I know. You guys need to trust me.”

When we got out of the car, I had an additional surprise to really make sure Mazzy and Harlow appreciated the experience. I gave them each an iPhone to take their own photos. Mike gave Harlow his phone and I gave Mazzy my phone. I have an extra phone that I used for myself. Before I handed them over, I had one more request. Or, bargaining chip, as it were.

I said, “If I give you each your own phone, you have to pose for some of my photos too, mmmmkay?”

They were on board.

I was right about the cameras. I had done this once before when I took Mazzy to Paris, with great success. The kids had so much more fun taking their own pics than they would have just posing for mine.

What I didn’t expect was to actually be surprised by their photos.

The whole time we were there, I thought Mazzy was running around taking random images. In the photo below, I thought she was taking a photo of the ground.

But when she showed me afterward, I realized Mazzy had been taking photos of words. Here is a photo that I took:

And here is the photo she took of the same spot:

She went into that space and found words that were meaningful to her (or maybe that she felt represented her) and put them all in an album on my phone that she entitled “Mazzy Was Here.”

That pic I thought she took of the ground? She was actually taking a photo of the word “independent.” It was written so low on the mural, I didn’t even see it.

Harlow, on the other hand, was taking photos of really small details.

While everyone else was taking in the breadth of each mural, Harlow was focusing in on an eye, a girl, a curvy line.

When I looked at her photos after, I didn’t even recognize many of the images she had taken. I was too busy looking at the pieces as a whole.

You know when they talk about how wonderful it is to see the world through your baby’s eyes? That doesn’t end. That day, I got to see the world through my 9yo’s eyes and it was a pretty awesome point of view. 

My favorite pic that Harlow took was this one:

There is so much talk about putting our cameras away and focusing on the moment, that sometimes we forget that cameras help elevate our experiences too. Especially when it comes to travel. We want to take photos of our vacations to share with friends and to look back on later ourselves. We want to frame the places we see in our own unique way. If you want your kids to like travel, I suggest letting them into that part of the experience.

If everyone documents the trip together, you will all walk away with richer memories. And maybe even a few photos of yourself.