Hey everyone, it’s Thomas today talking about travel photography, one of my favorite topics. Photography and travel seem to go hand and hand, so it’s no surprise that we get just as many questions about travel camera recommendations as we do about travel and trip destinations. The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional photographer or have professional gear to take meaningful photos that you will cherish after your trip. If you are new to photography you can read my post about getting started with photography.
I’ve heard criticism of travel photography saying that focusing on photography while traveling can keep you from being present. Speaking from my own experience, I’d argue the complete opposite, as photographers we explore the world with an open mind, we take our time, we venture down less traveled paths just to see what’s around the corner. To us, this is the most addicting part of traveling.
Travel Photography Tips
Have The Right Camera For The Job
I think that a travel camera should be small, easy to use and take great photos. Below are a few recommendations for cameras, two are under $1000 and have built in lenses. The final one sits just above $1000 even with the addition of a good lens. All of these are small enough to carry around your neck all day long or fit into a bag without requiring a dedicated camera bag.
Sony RX 100V– Sony makes some really good cameras and this one is no exception. The combination of size, quality and price make this a very popular choice. So much so that Sony is now on their fifth iteration of this camera.
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II– This camera has become super popular amongst vloggers after Casey Neistat gave it a rave review and uses it for lots of his videos. It’s a great price and versatile as both a camera and video camera.
Fujifilm X-E3 with 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent)– I’ve been recommending the Fuji X-T2 for the past 6 months, which is a great interchangeable lens camera in an ideal size. I just found this X-E3 and after inspecting the technical specifications it sounds like almost the exact same camera for $500 cheaper.
My #1 Travel Photography Tip- Think About Your Photos Before You Take Them
I see tourists all the time that take pictures of every single thing they see. It makes sense, everything is new and they want to remember it but rarely do I ever see someone take the time to examine the subject and the light and properly frame and expose an image. You don’t have to take 50 photos of everything you find interesting but take more time than a careless point and shoot. Unless you just want these photos to sit on your phone, camera or hard drive and never see the light of day then by all means do what you want.
When getting a photo together choose your volunteer photographer wisely
I’ve talked about this one before but we all know that great couples travel photos are hard to come by, that’s because the stranger we hand over the camera to somehow turns out to be the worst photographer alive. We’ve had some bad photographers but this past December one lady truly took the cake. I knew we should have asked someone else as soon as she said “My friend is a professional photographer and told me ‘that everyone is taking them sideways now’”. Let’s just say, those weren’t winners. The best thing to do is find someone with the best camera or find someone who looks like they’ve taken a selfie before (on purpose). When you hand the camera over it’s best to be clear in your instructions. I’ve resorted to actually setting up the camera and telling the person, “Do you mind taking this exact photo?”
Batteries, SD Cards and Backup Drives Should Never Be an Afterthought
Make sure your batteries are charged and your SD card is empty when you head out the door. This is one of those things where you only have to make the mistake once for you to know to never do it again. There’s nothing worse than showing up ready to shoot and your battery is dead. I have a travel photographer friend that keeps a car battery charger with him at all times. For safety, buy extra batteries, SD cards and bring a portable hard drive with you too. Finally, never ever delete photos when reviewing them on your camera, one slip of the finger and you can delete an entire SD card. At the end of a day shooting, backup your SD cards to your computer and external hard drive, I highly recommend you put these things in your hotel safe. When traveling I even go as far as putting my hard drives and computer in separate bags in case a bag gets stolen.
Pack only the essentials
When you pack camera equipment for a trip my advice for you is your gear should get you through 95% of shoot scenarios. I always think that having a lighter pack is better, this is coming from someone that’s lugged extra gear all around the world just for one picture. Chances are, you are not a professional and never will be, so unless you are specifically going on a trip to take particular types of photos, you can leave most of your tools at home. Drones, tripods, specialty lenses, external flashes are things you probably won’t use. You could even be able to get by without a dedicated camera bag.
Keep a diary, start a blog, print or frame travel images
I’m not saying you should become a blogger, in fact you don’t even have to share your images with the world. I recommend this because after you travel this forces you to review your photos and pick your favorites. This prevents you from taking the photos and dropping them off into a hard drive never to see the light of day. You don’t have to write anything if you don’t want, but looking back, having notes to backup your pictures is so special. If you decide to blog, you can create a free blog on WordPress or Squarespace. Lately, we’ve been framing a lot more photos from our travels, you can read yesterday’s post about it.