How to plan your next photographic destination effectively
Like most of us in the world, I have been travelling bucket list destinations since years. However ever since I have grabbed the camera & started shooting seriously, my motive of travelling completely changed - rather I would say, I became more sensitive & responsive towards surroundings. I started to look out for new opportunities and different perspectives for so called touristy destinations through my camera with and intend to document & capture my own vision of the place. So if you ever want to witness or rather plan your next travel from photographers point of view - Here are my top 5 tips for more enjoyable photography experience.
Research your Destination
All right so you have decided the destination to head to for your next photographic expedition. However, did you researched enough about your destination from photography point of view ? What I mean to say is, if you are landscape photographer, you have to research about beautiful locations, ideal time to shoot at these places - sunset/sunrise, expected weather conditions, high tide/low tide situations if seascape etc. Or if you are going to travel to any city to shoot some cityscapes, you have to be little ahead of the game by exploring work of other photographers who have been there already & shot some amazing images. This gives you idea about your new destination & keeps you away from last minute surprises. After doing all the research work via google, youtube and photographic websites such as 500px & instagram, I personally keep a small note in my phone of all places that I want to visit. For further research, you can always take help of Travel blogs and facebook groups which are always open for discussions. All these things helps in creating a perfect itinerary for your photographic expedition and provides you enough opportunities to shoot some amazing images.
Book your travel and accommodation in advance
The moment I am done with my destination research, I head to booking my travel & accommodations. If I am traveling alone, its been difficult area to handle out for me, as quality accommodation has been less of a concern for me over making great images. Nevertheless I do book accommodation wherever its available disregarding the absolute comfort need of mine. However I would not recommend this to everyone. As you would be traveling for once in a year time of experience & you would want to make sure that you have a comfortable space to take a rest, power up your batteries, backup your images & make your travel experience as stress free as possible. Travelling is not always about camping at night & being adventurous 24x7 in your tour. Not everyone is a fan of it which is completely fine as long as motive of traveling and getting beautiful images is achieved. Personally for Indian destinations I do take help of websites such as Oyorooms , MakeMytrip, Goibibo, Trivago etc. During solo expeditions, I take help from locals to get me the place to stay overnights. This in turns helps locals to make some money & I don’t mind it as long as my camera is getting charged over night. For overseas destinations, I do take help of B&B options which are great services of bed & breakfast with home stays. Few things that I like about these - One, you end up in living at safest place almost every time as its owners house where they live personally - at least I have experienced same over my travels till date. Two, its great way to understand and live in culture of the place & Three, it also helps in detailing your itinerary & sometimes finding out unexplored locations by easy interactions.
Carry only Essentials
Believe it or not, this plays major role in your travel expedition. And above two points can help in planning this a lot. You have to make sure that you are carrying only necessary stuff for your travel. Comfortable & weather required clothing is going to make your travel more soothing. Wearing comfortable shoes for your destination terrain is equally important. For my off-road expeditions I am with my trekking shoes while in city expeditions, I prefer light weight sports shoes or sneakers.
I can not put more stress on understanding the need & choice of camera equipment in this list. While you are on days of expedition, its really vital that you carry only needful photography equipment. Single Camera body, backup body if you are on assignments, few lenses to cover enough focal lengths of your style, tripod & filter kits if in long exposure landscapes work, single flash light for portraits, few batteries, charger and enough memory cards should be more than enough to cover almost everything of travel photography. These can be further divided as per the interested genres of photography shoot. Personally, I shoot my images with Canon 5d Mark IV, 24-105 mm, 50 mm F1.8, Tripod & filter kits - That’s it ! These fits into my style and seems more than enough to cover my landscapes, people & culture work. Click here to view my portfolio on these genres.
Plan your days with photographers mindset
Do you plan your day to maximize the experience and overcome touristy crowds for your photographic expedition ? I am going to share few of my secret tips here which did change my travel experience a lot & I managed to maximize my output without comprising my time & money.
Travel fix distance daily
Create your detailed itinerary as such to cover fixed distance in a day with maximum of 4 spot visits. This keeps your travel stress free and helps in exploring your creativity with camera more in available time. You should not be rushing from one place to another just because you want to visit it. Use your energy wisely.
Plan your must do locations well in advance
If you have some must visit & shoot destinations, plan them well in advance & visit them as per your daily itinerary. You also have to consider weather conditions & other uncontrolled factors into consideration if these are landscape locations. Do note down visitors off days if targeting any famous architectures as they might be closed for maintenance work for a day or two in a week. This list of all helps in planning hassle free experience of shoot. If you need cabs or city transport to reach those destinations, plan them a day ahead. Book your entry tickets too in advance if any locations ask for it such as Eiffel tower visit. You do not want any last minute surprises to miss out the golden opportunity !
Use Afternoons to your advantage
I know that most of you photographers would have heard that best time of shooting is around sunrise & sunset. But its not always the case. This applies only if you are shooting outdoor in sunlight for landscapes images. However afternoons are great for shooting indoors ! Ideally visitors are less in afternoons , all taking rest in hotels & planning their evenings. So less crowded place with enough opportunities for you. The amazing photographer & educator Mr. Scott Kelby gave this tip of shooting indoor architectures in afternoon time to secure morning & evening light for landscapes totally. This works like charm. I can cover up two landscape locations with the best light in day & few architectures in afternoon. Why don’t you try it out in your next travel ? Check out Mr. Scott Kelby portfolio on Indoors here.
Visit souvenir shops on your first day
This is my favorite thing to do. Believe me it works every time when I travel to some amazing cities. Souvenir shops are heart of any city. They have variety of images on different items. They do hold public transportation maps, books on best sight seeing locations in town, plus postcards. Postcards are best out of all. If you look closely postcards has images along with the location of the place where they have been shot. Voila , its a gold mine !!! You can visit these places & shoot your own vision. And you know you have a chance of printing postcards in near future. Try this out in your next visit. You will surely not regret it. And yes, to buy souvenirs, you can always come back on last day ! :)
Use off peak seasons
This sounds crazy for most travelers. As everyone feels and understands that there are best times to travel to particular destination & enjoy the place. However if you think from photographers mindset, its an opportunity to shoot a place with very little or no tourists around but only locals - which gives you an upper hand in capturing culture of the place. Also landscapes provides you different perspective of place.Not to forget tourist charges are at their lows so you save some bucks for your next destination. There are few drawbacks as well but if you plan wisely & with itinerary for the conditions you can still pull it off. I visited Venice is winter season & it helped me immensely. Less crowd in town allowed me enough opportunity to explore places with my own pace & I have got some lifetime images of this place.
Be sensitive & responsible traveler
This is little off from what is the part of planning. But still I felt to consider this as last point of the discussion. Over these years of photographic experience, I have understood that every photographer has an equal responsibility to carry on his shoulder. Like the way you came here to shoot amazing places, other photographers & travelers will also be visiting the same place. You do not want to ruin the beauty of the place just for your own sake of interest. Make sure you are not intruding the space of nature too much & damaging it with man made foot prints. Make sure you are not intruding other fellow photographers frame while in shoot. Carry all your rubbish with yourself while leaving the space & do not litter at any natural or man made creations. Be polite & humble with locals. Respect the culture & tradition of the place. As photographer, be neutral on your views & opinions while you are shooting cultures & festivals. Be open to shoot different subjects. Your camera is not just your property but its an responsibility to mirror your vision to the world. Make sure that you are not being biased with it. The tool you are carrying in your hand has the potential to turn the world upside down. I am sure these are the same expectations you have from other travelers. If so, then why not to start from ourselves ?
All in all, travel is an experience & emotion to live for. While you have lots and lots of content available on internet for traveling tips, I thought of putting my little effort on describing how I plan my journey & experience new places with my camera. Do drop in comment your best traveled destination till date & let me know how you planned it. I would really love to read about your story. Do subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated with such travel posts in future.
Adios Nomads !!!!