This is one area where even non-photographers can’t help themselves from taking at least a few photos. Whether a quick snap with a phone or a patiently planned out camera shot, travel photography is an essential part of keeping those memories intact. Here are a few tips on making your next trip a beneficial documentary experience!
First and foremost, you should know what you’re going to bring. Depending on how long your trip is, if it’s for business or leisure, if you’re a hobbyist or professional, or if you’ll be in an area where you can bring out specific gear, you’ll need to decide how much you think you’ll use & how much you’re willing to carry around with you all day.
If you’re only using your phone, this will be easy as you can fit that in a pocket or purse. Though, I recommend bringing along those clip-on lenses just so you have a bit more flexibility. They are quite affordable as well as small and can be fun to use.
If you’re going compact or mirrorless you’re also going to fortunately have a smaller pack. This would be my most recommended route just for leisure or hobby photography as you don’t have to worry about slinging your weighty DSLR around but will also be able to capture high quality images.
If you’re going the DSLR route, you have to be very choosy with what you bring. I’ve found that over the years, 3-4 lenses are just what I need to cover all my bases. (If you have a flexible zoom lens 24-200mm for example, you could really be set with just that!) I always bring a ‘normal’ length (my 40mm or 50mm), a wide angle, & a zoom. Sometimes I’ll toss in my 85mm because it’s so great as a portrait lens, but once again this just depends on how much room I have and if I think I’ll actually use it.
*If this is for a commercial assignment, you’ll want to/need to bring a bit more gear depending on the project.
No matter the gear I recommend always putting it in your personal item/carry on. NEVER CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT!! Perhaps I’m ridiculously paranoid and not trusting of luggage handlers, but I’d rather just know where my stuff is at all times. This will save you time/money in case they do mishandle or lose your luggage from one place to another.
If this is your first & potentially only time being in a particular location, be a tourist! Many suggest you should keep it cool and blend in and though I agree with that from an outfit perspective, I also realize that some of the most ‘cliché’ locations are really fun and amazing to capture. Never be afraid to get the things that have already been shot a million times. YOU haven’t shot this site, and that alone is what will make it special.
Once you have your cliché tourist shot, I recommend then moving on to try a different angle or perspective. Challenge yourself and find a less populated area nearby. Maybe you’ll wind up with something better than what you expected!
I always enjoy getting shots of the diverse selection of fellow travelers or inhabitants of a place. I’m not a master in this area, and rather cowardly, so I typically stick to the shadows and take overall environmental portraits of people. If you want something more intimate, you’ll have to go up to the person and ask for their permission (especially if you plan on posting it publicly.)
I have a confession. I am not a foodie. But I know that many people are and consider that to be their favorite part of travelling. If so, definitely capture some of those nicely prepared meals. Even exotic produce at the market or a giant ice cream cone can be exciting if the context of the location is also provided.
Try to get photos of whoever you’re travelling with or yourself if you’re going solo. I’m so bad at this sometimes because I’m so focused on the sights around me, but having at least a few with you and a sight can make for a nice memory. And it also ‘proves’ that you were there if you feel you need that haha.
This is probably the easiest aspect to shoot. Get up early and shoot the sunrise. Stay out late and catch the way buildings look mystical during twilight hour. In between, pay attention to the things that make this place unique. The trees, the bricks, the animals, the vehicles, just take it all in while shooting.
Finally, don’t forget to live in the moment as well. I’ve become better at this as I’ve grown older, but I remember when I was younger I never took my eyes of my LCD screen. At a few points, put down your camera, turn it off, or even put it away and enjoy the present. Have an interesting conversation with a vendor, savor that dessert, take a nap on the beach, play a game with your loved ones, do all the things that help make vacation relaxing to you. After all, that’s why you’re here.
I hope these tips will help you make an unforgettable experience!
May the light be with you.