Travel photography is inspirational and exciting and packing for a trip it’s easy to get carried away and end up with multiple camera bodies, handfuls of lenses, a dozen accessories, plus more.
The more equipment you have the more you’ll be weighed down when shooting – which will lead to discomfort
Our advice is travel as light as you can, and this is what we recommend, both camera gear, accessories and a few pieces of clothing, regardless of time of year:
- One travel camera body
- Lots of memory cards & a waterproof memory card holder to keep them all together
- Multiple batteries for your camera – plus battery holders to put them in when flying as you can’t pack batteries in your checked in luggage
- A lightweight tripod which clips to your backpack – we suggest one which has a detachable leg to be a monopod and our favourite is Benro. For travelling, we’ve found the ball head is easier as it fits more snuggly to the backpack with no handles sticking out
- A portable hard plastic camera suitcase foryour camera gear for your flight – we use Seahorse and Pelican which have wheels for ease of moving around. Plus buy one with velcro dividers, not foam. Also, a case which is a bright colour is easily seen when on the luggage carousel. NOTE: Please detach your lens when packing your kit for travelling – much damage can be done to both camera and lens by leaving your lens attached
- A travel camera – we recommend Nikon’s Z fc, you can check out our review of this camera here. This is a lightweight camera, the body with battery is less then 500 grams
- Lightweight power bank – we’ve charged the Nikon Z fc camera using a power bank which is super useful if you’re out and about all day. This will also keep your phone topped up while you are out all day
- A small selection of travel lenses – we always have a street photography prime and love a Nikon’s f2.8 28mm, we also pack the 16-50mm & 50-250mm plus we always throw in Nikon’s f2.8 50mm macro
- We prefer a Lowepro camera backpack which has security features and these backpacks distribute the weight evenly over your shoulders and protects against heat, cold, sand, and moisture. We’ve found that over the shoulder camera bags, by the end of the day tend to pull on your shoulder
- We always pack a rain cover for our camera & lens as they are designed to protect against rain, dust & sand
- External hard drive to back-up your images
- A couple of carabiners with a short cord to attach to the outside of your backpack to secure to something to keep it safe from being stolen
- Add a couple of “glove clips” which are readily availabe on AliExpress or from your local safety store
- Don’t forget fingerless gloves, our favourite have a flip top to become mittens
- Pack a couple of neck gaiters, one for your neck and one to keep your head warm
- Our last piece of advice is pack a small lightweight tarpaulin – 1.2m square is excellent. It makes for a good place to sit if the ground is wet plus provides a clean, dry and dust free spot to lay your camera gear on. Plus pack a very windproof and lightweight parka, we like ones that pack into it’s pocket which we clip to the outside of the backpack.
First, make sure you’re shooting in RAW. It’ll give you maximum post-processing flexibility, and while RAW files do require editing, the result is worth it. You could shoot in RAW+JPEG, which produces both types of files each time you hit the shutter, but of course this takes up more space, so make sure you have plenty of memory cards.
Get off Auto mode and shoot in Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual mode – make sure you’re comfortable with shooting images in these modes before you travel. We suggest, invest time in attending a photography workshop before you travel.
Use a photo diary
Research as much as possible where you’ll be going and plan what time you’ll likely arrive – find the best views, the best architecture, and the best street scenes. Now you know where you’ll be going and likely time of the day, make a note of the camera’s settings, lenses and equipment needed before you head each day as part of your planning as it saves having that “blank memory” moment when you arrive to capture images.
Then at the end of each day, jot down a few notes in your photo diary about the day’s events. It may sound unusual, but it really does make a difference.
Scout locations in advance
Leading up to your travels do some thorough research – google is your friend. Check out other photos captured at the location, articles discussing key photography spots, or even satellite images on Google Earth.
Make a list of all the key locations you want to photograph and when is the best visited at sunrise, sunset, or midday.
Understand street / travel photography
We’d all love to capture images that express the subject’s culture and character – think about before you travel attending a street photography workshop so that you are comfortable in capturing images of people.
Up-close, personal, intimate portraits are so much better than images taken from a distance, most people are happy to wait for a moment while you take your shot, provided you ask for permission.
Most places are relatively safe, we suggest being in a group. Even the safest places have their rough parts, and you carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment, could be a target. So when you’re out shooting, be careful. Always tell someone where you’re headed – we always check-in to a local Police station to let them know we are in the area photographing. Remember to return to the Police station when you have finished to let them know you’ve finished.
Carefully check your routes in advance, and even as you shoot, pay attention to your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable in a certain area, then consider moving on.
If you’ve been on any of our street photography workshops, you’ll know our mantra “get down low to the ground” and “shoot from above” – don’t capture those touristy images, look for unique angles and compositions and lighting.
Back-up & back-up
We recommend two forms of back up as a minimum
- Keep all images on your SD card, which is why we recommend you take masses of SD cards
- Back up your SD cards onto an external hard drive each night.