Are you looking to travel and can’t decide what camera gear to bring, or you’re unsure what entails a good travel set up? Read on for some ideas for consideration when you get the itch to photograph!
There is a lot to consider when planning your gear list for an upcoming holiday, what gear is essential? What is good to take and what could you really do without?
The first thing to consider is ‘What type of holiday is it?’ Is it long (6 weeks or more) or short? Is it specifically a photographic holiday or are you travelling with people who don't share your passion? The first type is simple, take as much as you can. If your goal is to photograph a specific event or location then don't hold back. Remember to pack the little things like extra memory cards, spare batteries, effects filters (ND, polarisers) cable release, tripod etc. as it's always better to be over prepared than under prepared.
The other type of trip is a little trickier to prepare for as you must prioritise and decide what to take when you can't take it all.
A lot depends on the type of photographer you are. Me, I like to travel light. I take only what I need, make do with what I have and use what I can in the surrounding environment (you’d be surprised how many natural tripods you can find!). During my last major trip which lasted six months, all I carried was a Canon 5D MKII body, a Canon 24-70mm and a 50mm prime lens along with some secondary gear consisting of cleaning equipment, memory cards, spare batteries and a netbook with two external hard drives. I can safely say that I didn't miss any equipment during the entire duration aside from a tripod, though in all honesty the two times I would have used it wouldn't have been worth carrying it around for six months. Did I miss any shots? Sure, but I did capture more than I missed which is a win for me. Besides, I've missed several shots sitting in this coffee shop while writing this post which goes to show that you can't get them all!
Here are a few things I've learnt from my travels around the place -
· Take a Rapid Strap. Really. If you are going to be carrying your camera around your neck all day then you need a good camera strap. Those that are factory packaged with digital SLR cameras are terrible for any copious amount of time. The sling-strap was the single best investment I made for my travels as it has saved me from experiencing countless sore necks and shoulders at the end of a long day exploring through city streets.
· Have your camera prepped and ready-to-shoot at all times. The only time my camera was in my bag was when I wasn't allowed to take photos due to regulations in some museums or if I thought I was in an area that I considered it a bit risky to have an expensive piece of gear on show. In fact, I didn't even bring an actual camera bag along but rather an old messenger-style bag that could just fit my camera in it along with my wallet, a spare battery and some memory cards.
· Use your common sense when it comes to your security. In six months of travel, the worst thing that happened to us was a credit card getting skimmed. Be aware of your surroundings and know when to put your gear away. The majority of people we encountered were very friendly and helpful, but do keep your eyes open and alert. The biggest risk is opportunistic thieves.
· Respect local rules in regards to photography. Most regions I've been to are fine with photography. I think Australia is more restrictive when it comes to photography rules than any other country I've visited. In Europe for example, I don’t recall any museum that banned photography aside from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Even the Louvre allow photographs to be taken aside from flash photography which is understandable.
· Try to educate yourself about the city you'll be visiting before you arrive. It really helps as most cities have a lot to see and you’ll find that time is insufficient. Plus, it's always interesting to discover obscure things to see in areas you visit.
· Download your images to a hard drive daily as backup. I brought two HDD's and backed up to both of them every night. One I kept in my bag while the other I gave to my partner to carry just in case. When you upload, also make sure you name the folder with the date and place which you took the photos. This is especially helpful later on when you have potentially thousands of photographs and hundreds of folders to sort through. For example, my conventional folder naming would be along the lines of "01032013 Rome" which represents the 1st of March 2013 in Rome. If the trip duration is lengthy then I’ll also separate the folders into months, making it a breeze to search through later.
· Above all, have fun. Try to live in the moment and don't spend your whole trip looking through the lens. Taking too many photos can potentially separate you from the scene and remove you from the experience so, as crazy as it might sound, sometimes you will just need to put the camera down and relax.
- Marc Busoli
* If you'd like to learn more about digital SLR photography, check out our exclusive range of Canon Academy Courses which may be studied online or in classroom tutorials with some of Australia's finest professional photographers.
What's the best tip you have for travel photography? Share your tips below!