It’s that time of year. If you’re like me, you’re planning at least one good photo trip this year. I am itching to go to Hawaii. Wherever YOU are interested in going, here are some tips to get you started planning your big trip.
The most important thing you can do is decide WHERE you want to go and then learn EVERYTHING you can about that location. Scour Google and travel sites for information. Ask your photographer friends if they’ve been there and for some hints. And while you’re at it, start thinking about how you will get to the location. Make your transportation and lodging reservations early. The good spots fill up quickly. Allowing at least six to eight weeks is important. It might not even be enough if you’re planning to hit some of the national parks in the USA.
People Places & Things
You’ll be photographing at least one of these so start thinking about it NOW. Make a list of important images that you want to grab on this trip. This list doesn’t have to be limiting – it’s just a guideline to get you going. It will help you to pre-visualize your best shots. You can also get some of those creative juices flowing if you start now. The more you think about it now, the better off you will be later.
Now is a great time to make sure all your gear is in order. Make sure everything works. Make sure you have read the manuals and have all the accessories set out and available. Now is NOT the time to buy a new piece of gear if this is a once-in-a-lifetime location shoot. You want to be totally familiar with your gear so it doesn’t get in the way of a good shot. Also make sure to write down a list of everything you plan to take, along with model and serial numbers. This may come in handy in case you have any unfortunate gear loss during the trip. Here’s a bonus gear tip. Don’t bring everything you own. Sometimes too much gear gets in the way. Traveling light gives you options you don’t otherwise have.
Shoot as if you were on assignment. Focus is a big problem when you travel. (No pun intended.) It’s easy to get sidetracked by all the new shiny things you will see on your trip. If you are sidetracked, you’ll miss out on the stuff that’s important. A project mindset will help you avoid this. I am not suggesting you get so rigid about this that you don’t have fun, just think about a plan. Having a focus or theme to shoot while on your trip will improve your keeper ratio.
One of the most important tips I can give you is to remember to share your trip with others. Too many times special vacation and travel photos end up “in the drawer” or today’s equal – on the hard drive. Budget some time after the trip to edit, keyword, catalog, adjust and share the images quickly after the trip. While the images and experiences surrounding their capture are fresh in your mind, put it all out there for your friends, family and others to see and enjoy. There are simply too many tools available to you to list here but the usual suspects like Flickr, SmugMug, your blog, social media, etc. Use them. Share the images. Let people see what you saw. Keep it alive.
Travel photography can be fun and frustrating all at once. When you’re out of your element, out of control and in a place you don’t know, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Relax, be patient, expect the unexpected, and have a plan. Hopefully you’ll get some great stuff.