Manns in Australia

This is the most personal work we have ever shared. Only, it’s not work. No brides. No grooms. No SLRs. No flashes. This is just us, and the two most important things in our world. It has always been our dream to travel the world with our kids and we’re having the time of our lives doing just that right now.

When Australian photographers, Matt & Katie, approached us about coming to speak at the Zero Regrets photography conference in Melbourne, Australia, we knew it was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up. We told ourselves right then and there,

“If we’re flying half way around the world, we’re sure as heck going for more than a few days, and we’re sure as heck going to bring our kids along.”

We dreamt up the idea of turning it into a 4 month adventure with our kids, travelling throughout Australia and then Greece and Croatia.

Truth be known, we couldn’t really afford to. Dropping everything to take 4 months off isn’t exactly the most intelligent of business moves. Not to mention, Lanny needing to initiate a leave of absence with the Calgary Fire Department. BUT at the same time, we couldn’t really afford NOT TO.

The name of the conference that initiated this whole crazy idea, “Zero Regrets,” is ironically fitting. It was our opportunity – our excuse – to drop everything and just go for something that we’d been dreaming about since before Madelyn and Timmy had even come into our lives.

The last few years have been extremely exciting for us for so many reasons. Our business has taken us places we never imagined possible. We consider ourselves so fortunate to be in the position we’re in. However, in the midst of all this excitement and opportunity, it was becoming too easy for us to just react, react, react. We felt, at times, that we were losing sight of what’s really important, and how we wanted to live our lives and spend our time. This trip has been an incredible opportunity to reconnect with what we truly value in life, and to refocus on the life we want for ourselves and our kids.

We intentionally left all of our professional camera equipment at home so that it would be impossible for us to succumb to the temptation to take on a wedding in a new and exotic location. Saying no to so many incredible inquiries around the world was probably the most challenging part of freeing up these 4 months for us and our family. But we’re so glad we did.

Armed with two small mirrorless cameras (Fuji XT1 and Sony R1X), two pieces of carry-on luggage between us, and one small backpack each, we set off on a 4 month adventure. Our first leg of the journey took us to and through Australia for two months of traveling and exploring (including three days at the Zero Regrets Conference, which was incredible).

We absolutely fell in love with Australia. It was perfect for us for so many reasons. Here are just a few of our favourite memories:

– Renting a hippy-style camper van for 2 weeks and galavanting from Sydney to Brisbane via Jervis Bay, the Blue Mountains, Nelson Bay, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, and everywhere in between.

– Beaches, beaches, beaches! More than we can count and more incredible than we can describe. Perfect for barefoot running and floating on the breeze.

– Exploring the Binna Burra and Daintree Rain forests.

– Exploring the world’s largest sand island by 4WD.

– The Sunshine Coast, possibly our favourite part of Australia!

– Experiencing the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef through the eyes of a 5 and 7 year old.

– Driving the Great Ocean Road.

– The world’s best playgrounds – Seriously, the best playgrounds in the world are in Australia.

– The coffee! – Australia’s coffee culture is remarkable. So is the coffee.

– The world’s worst internet – We swear Australia has the world’s crappiest internet. This was perfect for unplugging.

– Journaling – Madelyn and Timmy wrote and coloured in their journals every day. It became such a nice daily ritual. It was so cool to watch them create their unique artistic impressions of their experiences. We’ve included a few of their entries below.

– Friends! – Reconnecting with (and meeting) so many awesome photographers and people. We especially loved our time with Lanny’s best friend, Jayd, on Fraser Island, and our time with a very special group of photographers at James Day’s beach house (well, his wife’s parent’s beach house, actually). Madelyn and Timmy especially loved their time reconnecting with their babysitter, Jenna, and her boyfriend, Sam, who took them on adventures in Melbourne during the Zero Regrets Conference.

– Shooting from the heart – This trip has made us appreciate and love photography more than ever. When it comes to photos, our kids have often been neglected, like “the shoemaker’s kids.” Shooting the loves of our life has become a daily pleasure for us. We just shoot when we’re inspired to do so, and have been having a ball seeing the world through their eyes.

Here are a few of our favourite photos from our time in Australia, interspersed with a few of the kids journal entries. Next up, Greece (stay tuned).

Photos by Erika and Lanny. Illustrations by Madelyn and Timmy.

  • Kids wading on beach in Australia on starry night
  • Little girl laughing towards the camera
  • Close up of little boy with long blonde hair on the beach
  • Kids playing with their dad in the back of a camper
  • Silhouette of little boy in still water
  • Young girl kneeling on rocks on the beach
  • Young boy pokes head out camper window
  • Raindrops on a camper window
  • Two kids tucked in bed while mother reads them a bedtime story
  • Young boy looks down from above in camper
  • Father and son in camper in forest
  • Young kids run across fallen tree trunk in foggy forest
  • Young boy sitting on ground crying in forest
  • Young girl writing in her journal on a fallen tree trunk
  • Clothes line attached to camper and little boy looking inside
  • Stuffed teddy bear and skipping rope hanging on a tree branch
  • Father and two young kids climb down rocky mountain barefoot
  • Two kids walk across wooden bridge at night with campfire
  • Young boy jump into bed
  • Reflection of kids sitting on floor with iPad on the window
  • Young girl walking along a path in a vibrant forest
  • Young boy walking beside giant earth worm on rainy forest floor
  • Young girl looking up at trees in forest
  • Father and young boy on a road trip
  • Young boy and girl sitting on back of camper having lunch
  • Little boy and girl kicking water at the beach
  • Father playing in the water on the beach
  • Young girl with towel wrapped around her face at the beach
  • Young girl at the beach with rainbow in the sky
  • Young girl running towards ocean at the beach
  • Young boy and girl playing on the beach
  • Young boy and girl hugging at the beach
  • Shirtless father and kids on hilltop
  • Little girl kneeling on large rock overlooking lake
  • Close up of young girl playing at the beach
  • Silhouette of young boy running at sunset
  • Father holds his two kids hands as they go for a walk in the forest
  • Little boy pointing out the window during car ride
  • Silhouette of father and daughter walking on the beach
  • Close up of young girl pondering
  • Young boy on bus looking displeased
  • Young girl hike up to large tree on top of hill
  • Father and son building a sand castle at the beach
  • Young girl facing away from camera running on beach
  • Kids hiding in hollowed tree trunk to avoid the rain storm
  • Young girl drinking from water fountain
  • Mother and daughter smiles for the camera
  • Graffiti on wall
  • Father with kids at museum
  • Young boy points at large dinosaur fossil at museum
  • Close up of father and kids with straight faces
  • Young child draws a heart in the sand during sunset