Travel Photography: Your Essential Guide

It’s common sense to do some careful planning and thorough preparation before you start any trip. But when you’re planning a holiday around travel photography, it’s even more important to put in some extra planning effort.

Make sure you understand a few things about travel photography, have researched your destination, and have all the right equipment. It’ll save you a tonne of problems once you arrive on your “holiday”.

How to Plan Your Travel Photography

Travel photography is a creative adventure. Away from home, you have the opportunity to record the unfamiliar with a fresh eye. So to find and bring home a true record of your travels, you need to be well prepared.

Research the Time of Year

You’ll need to consider the time of year for your particular destination. This will have an impact on your travel camera kit and other small incidentals photographers should always carry.

What kind of weather and which season do you want to shoot? Autumn colour in North America, cherry blossoms in Japan, animal migrations in East Africa, or the blue of the South Pacific all need to be timed just right. Otherwise, your trip of a lifetime is completely wasted – photographically speaking, of course!

These days, it’s easy to find all the info you need on the internet. Lonely Planet and other such travel guides provide an excellent start for your preparations.

Research Famous Landmarks

Even the most amateur photographers will know that you’ll achieve the best photographs either end of the day. But it’s important you actually pick the right time – sunset or sunrise – for your photo.

Certain locations may be draped in shadow during sunrise or sunset. Others might only get a small window of light at an obscure time of day.

Many photographers will visit a landmark several times before returning at the appropriate time of day with their equipment.

Research Cultural Events

Perhaps you’re not actually travelling to see the destination itself but the people. Many events – such as Diwali in India, the Lantern Festival in Thailand, or La Tomatina in Spain – occur on specific days every year.

It’s a good idea to research your destination to see if there are any local festivals or markets on during the time you’re there. It would be horrible to miss out on the biggest event of the year by a small margin!

How to Take Travel Photography

travel photographer taking photos on road

Too many photographers worry that their subjects are stale and unoriginal. After all, bigger landmarks have been done so many times before.

But this shouldn’t be a concern because each one of us has their own perspective. You might find an original angle or perspective that makes your photograph difference. You might interpret the entire scene differently.

Your job is only to go out and take pictures, wherever and whenever you can! And do your research beforehand by checking out these resources:

The Best Camera Equipment for Travel Photography

lenses for travel photography

You’ve arrived at one of the world’s greatest monuments, geological wonders, or historic finds. You spend days getting here and it’s unlikely you’ll return any time soon. And that’s when you discover that you’ve run out of room on your memory card. Or perhaps you’ve drained your camera battery.

It’s important for a photographer to always be prepared. Most sightseers walk away from their hotels with money, phone, and appropriate clothing. But photographers will always have a longer checklist.

It can be a good idea to carry a small bag dedicated to your photographic equipment. What equipment to take is never easy to decide – especially when it comes to camera bodies and lenses.

What Camera to Take for Travel

While pros are almost always more likely to opt for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are gaining credibility as the ideal travel camera. They can be as powerful as DSLRs and yet are incredibly compact. Social media influencers often also take an additional camera or two for different types of photography – for example, an action camera and a drone.

What Lenses to Take for Travel Photography

Both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs allow you to swap out lenses, so it’s a good idea to take several lenses to get the most versatility from your camera. Consider taking a prime lens as well as a zoom lens in the 80-200mm or even 300mm range.

Many good photojournalists carry only two zoom lenses on two bodies and still capture incredible photos.

What Tripod to Take for Travelling

A miniature, lightweight tripod is a really handy thing to pop in with your kit. It can be useful for setting up self-portraits using a self-timing button. It’s also essential to photography in low light situations or night scenes.

Tripods such as the Joby Gorillapod can be rested on top of fences or church pews or around branches to eliminate camera shake at slow shutter speeds.

travel photographer at sunset

Your Travel Photography Checklist

Here’s an overview of equipment to consider taking on any given day:

  • Your camera body
  • A prime lens
  • A zoom lens
  • Polarising filters
  • Lens hood
  • Step up rings
  • One flash unit
  • A lightweight, mini tripod
  • Spare memory cards and batteries

Always carry a spare of everything. This means fully charged batteries, memory cards, and lens caps (they are so easy to lose).

You can add to or cull this list as much as you like. The most crucial thing in photography is to know your habits and always be prepared!

At Camera House, we’ve got all the gear you need to stock up on equipment for future travels. Browse our huge range of camera equipment online today!

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6 comments

  • Dan says:

    This is handy advice. I’m planning a trip to Victoria in a few weeks’ time for the World Road Cycling Championships and I’m currently investigating options for an additional lens to take with me. Any advice would be welcome. I’m new to the DSLR world and am shooting with a Canon EOS450D.

    Great photo from Eric!

  • Camera House says:

    Hi Dan, The perfect companion for the Canon EOS 450D would definitely be the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 IS Lens. Taking this lens traveling would be ideal, it’s perfect for landscapes and great at long distances. It retails for around $1099 but without a doubt worth the money! Btw have a great trip and safe travels.

  • Brenda Proctor says:

    Hi Dan. I am heading to British Columbia soon to view Grizzlies and other wildlife as well as coastal scenery in Alaska. My camera body is a CANON EOS 1100D. I presently have two lenses an 18-55mm and a 55-250mm lens but was thinking to buy an 18-400 mm lens to stay permanently on the camera so l don’t have to change lenses. Is this a good idea or am l better to stick with the two lenses? thanks BP

  • Kylie says:

    Any advice on a second camera to a canon 80d. Looking for either a bridge or compact camera with great zoom. This is for an upcoming trip to NZ and also out in the field for wildlife, moon etc and possibly an everyday to just carry around. The zoom and image quality is most important to me. Thanks.

  • Camera House says:

    Hi Kylie – There is quite the variety of needs for your new camera. In this case, we could recommend talking to your local photographic specialist at your local Camera House store so they can get a better understanding of your needs and can offer their recommendations.
    You can find all of our stores and their contact information using this link – https://www.camerahouse.com.au/stores/

  • Camera House says:

    Hi Brenda –
    Dan may be at your local Camera House. If you wish to let us know which one, we are happy to pass the message on for you?
    It would really be a personal preference.
    There would definitely be some pro’s to having the 2 lenses on you, but understanding that you will be exploring (maybe for long periods) that you may not want to carry them both.
    But as mentioned, it would depend on whether you wish to carry them both or not.

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