Pro Tips for Traveling with a Camera

Traveling with a camera and all the attachments can be a little daunting. It’s tempting to just rely on the camera on your phone. But there is no replacement for a large lens, no matter how many pixels your phone camera has.

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A professional photographers tips for traveling with a camera and attachments.  It's tempting to just rely on the camera on your phone, but there is no replacement for a large lens.

We travel with two cameras and cell phone cameras. We use the phone camera as the one that is always handy, keeps track of the location, and documents the experiences. And the main cameras are for the gorgeous photos. The ones we want to enlarge, and post, and edit. The photos where we want control over the conditions and control over the look of the photos.

We are sharing what we have learned – things that make traveling with a camera a bit easier.

Tony and I have been earning a living as professional photographers for more than ten years.  In that time we have learned a few things.  We include this list of our favorite tips. There is also an extensive list of the equipment we use, since we are often asked what camera or lens we are using.

LIST OF OUR FAVORITE TIPS

TIPS FOR TRAVELING

  1. The more you know about the place you are traveling to, the less you will miss.  Spend some time listening to podcasts or reading books about the place before you go.  You will be amazed at all the things you would have walked right by without noticing. 
  2. To get a better idea of what the country is really like, get off the tourist path.  Instead of one more selfie in front of one more landmark, and searching out the nearest Starbucks, try eating at the locals favorite restaurant and try the local favorite drink and dish.
  3. Take photos of details as well as the usual landmarks.  Notice the differences in local flowers, bridges, sidewalks, food.
  4. Use a cell phone camera to quickly capture information.  You can capture menus, names of restaurants, the name of the street where the hotel is located, a photo of the shower that you couldn’t figure out how to use, the unbelievable staircase.  And you can also take quick photos of things you would normally collect and put in a scrapbook – a shell, a coaster, a logo, a stamp. The cell phone camera can also keep track of the location and time of each photo to supplement the photos you take with the main camera. we also use it for a quick panoramic photo or a quick video.

TRAVELING WITH A CAMERA

  1. Take only your favorite camera and lenses – to reduce the weight and bulk.  We have a Canon 5D Mark IV, and a Canon 5D Mark II – both of these are rugged enough for travel.  Tony’s favorite lens is the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L II, which is large, but takes incredible photos.  The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L is my favorite all-around lens.  Then we also carry the Canon EF 17-40 f/4L USM Ultra Wide angle Zoom, for panoramic photos and shots of clouds and sunsets.  Consider the size of the camera in case you need to lock it in a hotel safe.  Make sure it is not too heavy to carry all day.
  2. Use a cell phone for documentation – Take photos with your phone as well as your professional camera.  When all the photos are uploaded to the computer, the photos from the phone will add location information.  We use the iPhone to take quick photos of signs, tickets, schedules, restaurant cards, menus, museum brochures and other details.  We carry the camera manual on the cell phone in case we need to look up something, and use the PhotoBuddy app, which has all kinds of useful information.
  3. Use a comfortable, waterproof, inconspicuous, cross-body camera bag – to protect the camera from water, salt, thieves, shocks and still keep the camera easily accessible.  The bag we use swivels to the front for easy access and opens inward for safely changing lenses.
  4. Don’t check your camera equipment when you fly.  We use a camera bag that is small enough to qualify as a personal item on a plane so we never risk having to check it, even at the gate.  Keep it with you during the flight as well by placing it under the chair in front of you and not in the overhead bins.   When you go through security, have the lenses separate from the camera bodies and a charged battery handy (but not in the cameras) in case you need to demonstrate that the camera works.
  5. I bring a couple of seasonal scarves in order to vary my totally black and white wardrobe.  I wrap a scarf around each lens before putting them in the camera bag to add extra padding and keep the lenses from jostling around in the bag.
  6. Travel with a down vest with pockets  – if there is a weight restriction on a flight and the camera bag is too heavy, one of the lenses can be put in the pocket of the vest and worn.  On board, the vest can be used as added protection for the camera bag or as a pillow or neck roll.  Later on the trip, wearing a down vest is an easy way of adding an extra layer of warmth without too much bulk.
  7. Use a polarizer – it does double duty by improving the color in the photos and adding a layer of protection for your lens.
  8. Travel with an extra battery and the battery charger, as well as a universal power adapter if you are traveling to a country where the electricity or plugs are different.
  9. Carry CompactFlash cards in a rugged case – to protect them from water, salt and impacts, especially once they are used and contain irreplaceable photos.
  10. Put gel packets in the camera bag – to reduce the humidity in the case and prevent mold.
  11. Carry a lens pen and disposable lens cleaners – cleaning a cloth is impractical and it’s important not to use something that has sand or mold spores on it.  The individual use wet and dry cleaners make lens cleaning easy when traveling.  The lens pen has a brush that works great to get sand out, and a tip that cleans the LCD screen.
  12. A white balance card is helpful for correcting color.  We have a plastic one connected to the pack with a carabiner so it is readily available.
  13. Pack a rain sleeve just in case.  It weighs almost nothing and costs only a few dollars, so it’s great to through in the bottom of the pack as a cushion and have it if you need it.
  14. Not camera related, but I can’t help mentioning that the Bose noise canceling headphones are invaluable on a long flight.

LIST OF OUR FAVORITE EQUIPMENT FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

CAMERAS –

LENSES –

OTHER EQUIPMENT –


These are things we discovered while traveling and working as professional photographers. For more ideas, see our other posts about things inspired by travel.

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