Whenever I travel to a new place, the desire to soak up every last detail with my camera is apparent. If you’re a photography enthusiast and planning an exciting trip near or far, I hope these few simple photo tips for traveling will help you prepare for an easy-going and memorable experience.
Basic Travel Photo Tips: What to Pack & How to Prepare for your Trip
1) Pack Light & Keep it Simple
As a minimalist, I naturally travel light. My disclaimer is that I often pack too light. When in Bali, I underestimated the heat and… maybe wished to have had some fresh clothing options magically appear. My simple travel photo kit, however, was perfectly compact and lightweight - no regrets there!
I traveled to Bali with one full frame dSLR body and one prime lens (28mm 1.8). When traveling, I tend to shoot wide, and while this lens is not ideal for absolutely every situation; it was my best choice for a sharp, yet lightweight walk around lens. Simply put, I was going for comfort + quality and I didn't overthink the decision. I’m positive that my neck was much happier after a long day than it would have been with my much heavier 24-70mm L zoom lens.
Think about your shooting style, travel itinerary, and goals for your photos. Then, choose the best 1-2 lenses to compromise and maximize your priorities. Personally, I find that the least amount of lens choices I give myself, the easier it is to simply let go and enjoy my trip. With just one lens, the photos happen without any fret.
2) Be Prepared – Think “Extra”
Extra batteries are a no brainer and, of course, you’ll need your battery charger. Make a habit to charge your batteries every night. Extra memory cards are also a must. Refrain from the temptation to take one giant memory card. What happens if it gets lost or becomes corrupt? Split your travel photos between several smaller memory cards. Better to be safe… it is technology, after all.
You might even pack an extra camera - in the tiny point and shoot realm. There may be nights when you want to lock up your fancier gear and just take snapshots of dinner, nightlife, and friends with a point and shoot. Or, there may be long hikes on the agenda and you want to lighten your load and just take in your surroundings worry-free. It's also wise to have an alternative to handing someone your dSLR when you want a quick tourist photo taken.
A second camera is also a must for your clumsy counterparts to use worry-free. In our case, I watched in slow motion as my hubby slipped on a rock and our trusty little point and shoot camera took a dip in -of all things- Holy Water. Thankfully, we were able to retrieve our photos from the memory card, so we quickly moved on and devoted the rest of the trip to my dSLR. Lesson learned.. we'll always travel with a sacrificial point and shoot.
3) Travel Smart & Choose the Right Camera Bag
Always bring your camera bag on the plane as a carry-on / personal item. I own a variety of Crumpler bags that I choose based on the smallest size I need for the trip. In my opinion, a camera bag is ideal if…
a) It doesn’t look like a camera bag, so you’ll be less of a target to theft. My Crumpler bag goes over my shoulder (across my body), closes with buckles, and falls to my hip, so I can keep my eyes (and a hand) on it. Avoid backpacks for this reason, as you’re making a pick-pocket’s job a lot easier. Trust me, I was pick-pocketed when I lived in Chicago while waiting for my turkey sandwich at Jimmy John’s (evidently their service is not always quite fast enough!) My purse was zipped and swung slightly to my back. The man did a shockingly fantastic job, as I didn’t feel a thing. Stay aware in all situations, especially in crowded places.
b) It doesn’t lean too far to the girly or manly spectrums, so my super nice husband can take it off my hands when I need a break - without cringing.
c) The designs are very simple and smart with adjustable inserts and inner zipped pouches to keep my camera gear + a few non-photography essentials secure in one place.
4) Back up your Digital Images
You might decide to bring a laptop or a portable external hard drive to back up your images throughout your trip, especially if you are embarking on a once in a lifetime experience. In Bali, I used a portable external hard drive to back up my images each night while I charged my batteries.
This gave me tremendous peace of mind during our busy days, knowing my important photographs were almost always in 2 different places. This way, in the worst case scenario of having your entire camera bag lost or stolen, AT LEAST your images are backed up in your hotel room or packed away in a separate bag, safe and sound. It’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort.
(side note: As a minimalist, I opt for the portable external hard drive as it's a very small and inexpensive option compared to a laptop. The least amount of valuables to keep track of, the better.)
Travel Photography Checklist: • One dSLR camera w/ 1-2 lenses • One Point and Shoot • A Camera Bag like this Crumpler Bag (avoid backpacks and obvious camera bags) • 2+ Batteries • Battery Charger • Several Memory Cards (more than you think you need) • Water Resistant Memory Card Case • A Lens Cloth
Other suggestions: • A Small Tripod, like this Gorillapod • Rain Sleeves • A Laptop or portable External Hard Drive • A small Travel Journal (love moleskin journals) and a pen to record notes, thoughts, observations, and details along your journey
All Photographs Copyright Teri Genovese Photography
Above photographs of Balinese temples and landscapes were taken in Bali, Indonesia May 2011 Check out Bali Institute for an amazing cultural experience.