Tips for Travel Photography

As security controls tighten at airports, it’s more important than ever to travel with only indispensable items of photographic equipment, even if your client is prepared to pay unlimited excess baggage charges. It’s always a good idea to go through your equipment, piece by piece, evaluating the potential possibility of using it on your specific shoot. As a general rule, keep down the weight wherever possible.

The more camera equipment that you can take with you as carry-on-luggage, the better. Your cameras and lenses are far more secure with you on board the plane and less likely to be mishandled or damaged than in the hold. The weight and size restriction of carry-on-luggage depends on the airline. Most airlines do seem to have some flexibility, even though they don’t publish the fact.

It’s always a good idea to have a press card or a letter of introduction from your client at the ready.

In order to maximize your weight allowance, make sure that your assistant or any travelling companions use their hand luggage allowance to carry on your valuable photographic equipment.

For some reason, a duty-free carrier bag never seems to count in terms of weight for hand luggage. I usually carry a couple of spares for emergencies.

I always had problems checking in tripods and lighting stands, until one day I noticed golfers, checking in golf clubs with complete ease, for the last two years, my tripods have travelled flawlessly in golf bags, no questions asked.

Make sure that your hotel knows that you’re a travel photographer. Nine times out of ten they will do their very best to provide you with a well appointed room. This room could be an ideal location for that atmospheric early morning or sunset shot.

Familiarize yourself with your travel brief and try to read up as much as possible about your location in advance, take a look at available imagery of the region and try to give a new angle on classic shots.

Upon arrival at your destination it’s a very worthwhile investment to hire a local guide and ask them to give you a quick tour of the area that you wish to cover. Sometimes vantage points can take hours to locate and a local guide can save you so much time. A small hand-held GPS is ideal to record precise locations; knowing the co-ordinates will make your life so much easier to return to those specific locations.

Wherever possible, try to pre-arrange permissions in advance. In many countries the bureaucracy to obtain permissions can take around a week or more and the last thing you want is to find yourself on location, using valuable sunlight hours on administration.

Whilst taking your travel images, it’s essential to maintain accurate records of the place names, historical dates and details – basically any relevant information that can be used in your key wording. Good concise key wording will increase your travel photography sales.

Festivals always add a splash of colour to a travel shoot. Find out as much information on timings as possible, try to locate or pre-arrange a good vantage point, think about where the sun will be at the time of the parade and locate yourself accordingly.

Be respectful of local customs. As a rule by being polite, kind and by showing a genuine interest in the local people, so many doors will open and those very same doors can potentially enhance your travel imagery.

Travel photography is a dream vocation and its a true privilege to work in this field, enjoy!