14 Tips for Planning A Stress Free Travel Photography Vacation
Travel offers an exciting opportunity to photograph new and exciting places. However, planning a successful photography trip can be overwhelming.
There are a lot of things to think about before you hit the road with your camera in hand and you’ll need to do some pre-planning to make sure that your trip goes smoothly
Here is a list of important tips to consider when planning your travel photography vacation, so that you can be prepared to have a great time and capture beautiful shots on your adventures.
Travel Photography Tips
1) Choose the Right Season
Think about the season you want to capture in your photography. A spring photo will be completely different from a winter photo taken in the same location. Consider the climate, the light, the weather and what you want to capture.
Do you seek the rich red and orange tones of the leaves and the golden, slanting sunlight of autumn? Do you want to capture the bright colors and strong sunlight of a beach destination in summer? Or do you want to take dramatic black and white photos in a destination that is covered in frost and snow?
Perhaps there is a particular month when something spectacular happens in your destination, such as the cherry blossom season in Japan in April or the wet season on the Salar de Uyuni (December to March) when the flooded salt flats turn into a giant mirror.
2. Research What’s Happening During Your Visit
You’ll want to find out if there is anything scheduled during your visit that will affect the photos that you want to take.
For example, sometimes landmark cathedrals or historic buildings are closed for repairs and covered in scaffolding. Or perhaps it’s an incredibly busy weekend due to an event in that city, which means that all of your photos will be packed with other tourists.
In some cases, this might be a good thing – if a local festival is taking place during your visit it can be an opportunity to take some great portraits and shots of the celebrations.
3. Make a List of the Places You Want to Photograph
Pre-trip location scouting will make your travels so much more effective. If you only have a short time in your destination you will want to go straight to the best photography spots where you know you will be able to capture great photos. It helps to have a plan in mind so that you know exactly where to go.
Once you have checked off the photos you really wanted to get, you can always spend more time wandering the streets looking for spontaneous opportunities.
PhotoHere cards can be really helpful, they will show you the prime spots in the destination for snapping great shots so you can maximise your time.
4. Get There Early, Stay Out Late
Set your alarm clock for as early as possible when you are traveling. Not only will you be able to get to the best photography spots before everyone else, you will also capture that beautiful, blueish half-light of dawn.
The “golden hour” right before sunset is also a fantastic time to take photos. The warm light and pleasing shadows will make any destination look more captivating.
Shooting photos in the direct light of noon on a sunny day is perhaps the worst timing. You may even consider taking an afternoon siesta so that you have more energy to capture both the sunrise and sunset in one day. (Here are some tips for photographing sunrises and sunsets.)
5. Photographing An Attraction? Check if You Are Allowed
Before you get your heart set on photographing a particular attraction, make sure that you are allowed to photograph there. There are some places around the world where it is illegal to take photographs unless you are a professional photographer who has paid a lot of money for the copyright permissions. It may be fine if you are only using the photos for your own personal use, but if you plan to sell them it can become an issue.
Here is a list of 10 famous landmarks that you are not allowed to photograph for commercial use, including the Louvre, the Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Sign.
Also, sometimes photography is not allowed within art galleries – often because the flash damages the priceless works of art. For example, there is no photography allowed within the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, not only to avoid damaging the frescos with light exposure but also because it is a place of worship. Many Hindu and Buddhist temples will also ban taking photos within the inner sanctum of the temple.
6. Make a Packing List and Check it Twice
It’s really important to bring along all of the gear that you will need for your trip. You don’t have a perfect shot in mind, only to realize that you forgot to bring the right lens.
7. Bring Lots of Memory Cards and Batteries
Memory cards are small and they take up almost no room in your bag, so bring as many of them as possible. It’s better to bring along more than you need than to find yourself in a beautiful setting with no room left on any of your memory cards.
By the same logic, bring along extra batteries as well so that you never run out of battery power before capturing that perfect shot.
8. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Your camera is a small yet highly valuable item, so, unfortunately, it is a target for theft while you are traveling the world. It is very wise to purchase travel insurance that covers your personal belongings, including your camera.
Always bring your photography gear in your carry-on, keep it secured in a locker or a hotel safe when not shooting and keep it in a nondescript bag when walking around.
9. Give Everything a Good Clean
Before you hit the road, do a thorough check and cleaning of all your equipment. You should be cleaning out your camera bag, lenses and the body of your camera.
Also, you can check your sensor for dust and clear out all of your memory cards. It’s always good to start with a clean slate!
10. Bring the Right Adaptor
Take a look at your camera battery charger. On the back, it should specify the number of Hertz (Hz) and Volts (V) that it is safe to be used with. Take a look at this website which explains plug, socket and voltage by country and check that your charger is safe to use at that location. If it fits within the same range, you just need to adapt the plug for your charger to the country you are visiting.
If it doesn’t fit within the range, you will need a converter. It will change the power coming from the wall to match your battery charger, so that you can avoid battery leaks or explosions.
11. Think Twice About Your Tripod
Many traveling photographers regret bringing their tripod, as they rarely ever use it and it’s very big and bulky to carry around. You’ll probably be walking around your city snapping photos, so there’s little chance you will need it – unless you specifically plan on taking long exposure photos where you need to stabilize your camera.
If you do want to take a tripod, consider choosing a lightweight one that is designed for travel and can be folded up as small as possible.
12. Take a Photo Of Your Info
This is a simple tip, but it might help to reunite you with your photography gear if it gets lost. Write your email address and phone number on a card and take a photo of it on each of your memory cards. If your bag is found, the information on the photo can be used to help someone return your camera or your memory card to you. (Make sure that the photo is taken in JPEG mode so that it is easily readable by a computer).
13. Know Your Serial Numbers
It is also important to write down the serial numbers of your equipment, so that if it goes missing you can add that information to the police report. You can write them down on pieces of paper and keep them separate from your equipment.
14. Bring Backup
You’re planning to take photos of a location that you may never return to – so why keep those images only on just your memory card? If the card fails, gets smashed or gets lost or stolen then you have lost all of your precious photos. It’s better not to keep all of your eggs in one basket and to have a backup plan for your images. I recommended backing up your photos nightly.
You can bring along an external hard drive to copy your images to, then store it in a separate piece of luggage from your camera bag. You may also want to consider storing your photos online in the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere. Here are some options for online photo storage.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when you are traveling the world and capturing beautiful photos. With the right planning and preparation, you can have a stress-free and successful trip.