Photography and travel work so well together, especially if you want to quickly enhance your portfolio: foreign places, new friends, authentic experiences and tons of visual inspiration are sure to get your creative juices flowing. Of course, the further you go the more preparation you’ll need. We’ve put together a short but thorough guide to planning a photography trip from scratch.
1) Making up your mind
Do you want a full-scale photography trip or just a nice vacation with photo ops? Do you want to come back with a bunch of stunning landscape shots or feel like doing some urban exploring? There is a plethora of choices and making one can be a challenging task. That’s why you may want to check some photography websites for inspiration. Our personal favorite is Followmeto, a creative Instagram project turned comprehensive travel guide @followmetotravel, which not only has stunning visuals, but also offers great travel and photography tips - all made by arguably world’s most charismatic couple.
2) Find your perfect location
Finding a good location - whether it is a place in the neighbourhood or a city overseas - needs lots of time and googling, and deserves its own story, which we totally commit to writing. But for now we recommend you to start by searching for introductory information on the country or city you're planning to visit. Put together the photos you liked, mark where they were taken and map out the locations you’d like to visit. Make sure you jot down specific details about those locations and pin or bookmark useful links - you’ll thank yourself once you get there.
3) Do your research
The more effort you put into researching location of your choice, the easier your photography trip will be. Things like weather, clouding, moon phase will inevitably affect your shots. Knowing your weather is crucial: your iPhone weather app shows weather forecast 10 days in advance, but the closer to the departure date, the more accurate the forecast will be. Check local weather websites - they usually update forecasts as often as every 3 hours. Use apps like The Photographer's Ephemeris to find information about sunrises and sunsets, and plan photo shoots with the terrain altitude and light direction in mind. Planing on shooting the night sky? This will never happen if you’re going to have a big full moon. That’s why experienced photographers look at the moon phase. If you’re making landscape shots, having good clouds makes a great difference, so make sure you check the likelihood of clouds as well. Of course, you simply cannot predict everything and some things will still be left to chance
4) Plan your itinerary
Planning days ahead is what differs pros from amateurs. Calculate how much time you need to get from one location to another. Think what kind of transportation you are going to use. Check out all the schedules and find out how reliable they are. Make sure you give yourself time to relax - you don’t want this trip to turn into a tedious ordeal. Always do field recon: get to the location an hour before sunrise or sunset to compose your shot, or visit the place in the afternoon the day before to find vantage points and examine the lighting conditions you’ll encounter. Never go without an offline GPS app like MAPS.ME, as you never know where your road might take you.
5) Pack you bags
You’ve already been told not to leave camera or lenses in your checked luggage, right? A good camera backpack is what you need, but whatever you pack, you’ll carry, so take only necessary gear. In a perfect world it will look like this: a camera with a sport camera strap (another one as a backup), three favorite lenses, a couple of lense filters, battery charger, SD cards in a holder, a digital card reader, batteries for every type of equipment and some sort of tripod (this one you can leave in your checked luggage).
6) Travel in comfort
Renting a car - or some sort of transportation - for at least part of your trip will take it to the next level: nothing compares to the pleasure of not being limited by public transportation and other people’s schedules. However, for some countries it pays off to do some research and see if there are any hidden costs. Make sure to take hard and e-copies of all your documents and always carry some sort of ID and important medical information.
Photo by Alter-View photographer De-Stroyev.