Preparing for Your Summer Photography Trip: 5 Tips For Success

Summer is finally here, and there’s no more perfect time to travel. Seeing the world around you is one of the greatest joys in life, and it’s a blessing to be able to capture it on film, or - for those of you on a more modern page - on a memory card. Preparing for your photography trip is as important as the shots you’ll take when you get there; Here are 5 things you should keep in mind: 

Pick and Choose, Then Document

I know this sounds difficult, but trust me - it’s worth it. When you’re traveling with your camera gear, it’s important to pick and choose bodies and lenses suited to what you’ll be shooting. You don’t want to spend your entire trip weighed down under your whole photographic arsenal. If you’re afraid you won’t have the perfect lens at the perfect moment, challenge yourself to take an even more amazing shot with one you’ve got with you. Forcing yourself to use a 50mm prime lens on a subject you’d usually shoot with a wide angle can open your eyes and improve your craft. 

After you’ve narrowed down what you’re bringing, make a list of everything. It’ll save you a lot of stress to be sure you’ve got it all, and should you lose or misplace anything, you’ll know what you’ll need to replace. 

Pack Important Extras

A few years ago, I spent about 4 hours going in and out of every shop in Venice looking for a memory card, as all of mine were full. Later on, my camera battery died at the top of the incredible rice terraces of a small village in the Chinese Himalayas. In both cases, I hadn’t packed any extras, and I paid for it. 

Though it’s necessary to be picky with the equipment you travel with, extra memory cards, film, and batteries rank among the essentials. Don’t assume camera accessories will be as readily available where you’re going as they are where you live!  

Don’t forget plastic Ziploc bags and your circular polarizer. Weather is difficult to predict and it’s best to be safe. Plastic bags are really helpful if you want to take photos while it’s raining and to protect your camera from the elements at a place like the beach.

Choose a Practical Bag

You’ll thank yourself later if you choose a bag that protects your gear and is comfortable to wear. Bags that can multi-task - hold your wallet, travel documents, and a book or tablet - are quite efficient and will make traveling a breeze. You want your bag to be small enough to be easy to carry and to carry on (and PLEASE, carry it on), but high quality enough to protect its contents.

Protect Your Gear (& Yourself)

Keeping your gear and yourself safe while traveling requires a level head and common sense. Remember, don’t put your camera bag down at the airport (or any other public location for that matter). For some destinations, it may even be necessary to use gaffers tape to cover the labels on your camera gear to keep from attracting too much attention. 

Make Local Friends

It’s simple: The locals know all the good spots. If you ask around and talk to the people who live where you are, you’re likely to find out all of the best places to take stunning photographs. You’ll also probably find out the best places to eat, sleep, and get a coffee, and there’s nothing bad about that. 

Keep in mind that some cultures still emphasize privacy and even view the camera as a device to capture the soul. Always ask before you take a picture of a person.

Step Away from the Lens

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but there are some moments that just can’t be done justice in a photograph. Sometimes, you have to let go and step away from the lens to take in the full beauty of the foreign place around you. Don’t forget to actually experience the place you’ve traveled to; Memories are just as important as photographs!

Watch for Part 2 in this series on Friday, June 17th.