In this post I would like to share a few things to think about when traveling. I hope these help you get the most out of the photos you will take. My travel tips for photographers have been learned through experience. I have the privilege of traveling to Europe to visit family once a year and have had the opportunity to take pictures of stunning architecture and beautiful scenes in nature. I have learned so much during my travels, both as a photographer and traveler. Here, I will share with you how I navigate my role as a photographer, tourist, and visitor.
I know this is an obvious one but you will not be able to travel to most places without one. If you live in the United States, and are a US citizen, this task is easier than in most other places that have long lines and appointments you have to make months in advance. One of the easiest places to apply for a passport is your local post office. Review the list of documents that you need, get a passport photo, and come to your appointment prepared. It will be super easy and quick if you bring all your documents with you, including your passport photo.
A simple and maybe overlooked travel tip for photographers is to buy a travel guide for your destination. While it is very convenient to pull out an iPhone and Google your destinations, highlights, and architectural gems, there is nothing like having a physical copy of the guide. There is so much information, and a well-written, current guide will put all that research right at your fingertips. Traveling to somewhere you have never been before deserves some detailed literature on the location.
After studying your guide, make a short list of places that interest you and then group them by area. Now, pull out your smart phone and check the reviews on Trip Advisor. You can read about tourist attractions and their pros (architecture for example) and cons (crowds, surroundings, etc.) from people who have been there. In addition, I sometimes check travel advisory for my destination so I can make an informed decision about my travels.
One of the most important travel tips for photographers, in my opinion, is to remember your manners. Before you go somewhere you have never been, especially a different country, please do your homework on the acceptable dos and don’ts of that culture. Learning what is acceptable and polite will never disadvantage you. While visiting locally known hot spots it would do you well to know whether your camera is even welcome.
Also, remember that while selfies are an awesome way to informally document your presence, it is also unacceptable to disrespect the historical significance of a place. Don’t stand on respected and loved structures. No posing with subject matter that demands solemnity, and please take heed of any sign that tells you to “keep off the grass.” Furthermore, while some scenery is breathtaking and makes for a whimsical, beautiful back drop please don’t risk your life to take these selfies. And to conclude, don’t take them, post them, and inadvertently encourage someone else to do the same.
If I am visiting a place for the first time I prefer to do all the touristy things first and find my inspiration among other people who have come to do the same. It may be the smart and safe thing to do to stay with the crowd, especially if this is your first time in a new place. You, and everybody else, can take the same great travel photos – just put your spin on it. Try to take unique photos of the same structure or area that everyone else is photographing. An easy tip for travel photography is to focus on the texture, the light, and shadows. You may be able to explore stairwells or small signs of age in the architecture. Try to take photos in a way that will help you remember the joy or awe you felt walking through a structure, or around exquisite landscaping.
Visiting a place for the second or third time is a real treat. I am more comfortable with my surroundings and avoid the tourist spots. If you are lucky enough to return to a place that you loved visiting before, then try and explore the way locals do. Go places that the people go and enjoy local cuisine and markets. There is a wealth of photo opportunities at a local farmer’s market and tons of character in the buildings that line everyday streets. There is also a hauntingly beautiful aspect to areas where the structure is no longer attended to and nature has taken hold of the remnants. I am thinking of places I have seen driving along scenic routes and recommend that if these places capture your photographer’s eye that you do your research and make sure taking photographs is safely done.
Travel is a perfect occasion to breakout your DSLR camera gear. Travel photography can be done with an iPhone, but if you own a nice camera and nice lenses it will be worth the effort to bring those along for your trip. As discussed in this post, you can easily capture amazing photos with your DSLR camera.
I use the GoPro for underwater photos, as well as selfies, and would highly suggest a tripod and extension arm for it. My personal travel kit includes a D750 body, 35mm and 24-120mm lenses, tripod, and GoPro. My camera is a bit heavy and that can be a pain to carry but well worth the effort. I would recommend a smaller, lighter camera body for others. If you are in the market while preparing for your trip, invest in a camera that is smaller, lighter, and compact but versatile enough. In addition, don’t forget to bring waterproof cases and bags to keep your equipment safe and dry.
Have fun! Explore a new place with respect and common sense. Open your eyes and lens to what is around you so when you get home you can feel the experience again through your photos.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please feel free to comment, share, and ask any questions! And let me know which is your favorite travel photo you have taken and why.