Many would argue that to be a successful photographer, one of the best things to do is travel around the world. Traveling not only gives you the chance to see new places and meet new people, but also allows you to showcase all these new things though your own perspective in front of the world. It gives you new and fresh ideas to work with, and is a great way to get out of the dreaded creative block so many artists are faced with at least once in their lives.
However, this blog is not about what traveling can and can’t do for your photographic pursuits, but rather how you can make the best of your trip by following some very important and oft-forgotten tips.
Get Familiar with the Land
Before taking any photographic journey, you have to familiarize yourself with the place you’re going to visit. This includes two things; learn some common phrases of the local language and research about the culture and landscape of the place.
Learning common phrases of the local language is crucial not only from a photographic point of view but on a general level as well. If you don’t know how to communicate with people, you can’t approach them and ask to take a photo of them, you can’t answer their questions, and you can’t take any directions from them should you ever need help. So learn the language a little before taking off to a new place.
As for researching about the destination in general, that will help you a great deal in knowing where to go for taking the best photos. It’ll also help you find out what the people are like, what their culture is, and what kind of limitations you will have to face while taking photos.
Pack Light, and Pack Smart
Don’t pack more stuff than you need. The lighter your luggage is, the easier it’ll be to take care of. You could pack multiple suitcases if you’re going to live in a huge suite, but you probably won’t be living so lavishly if you’re going for a photographic trip.
Another thing to remember is to pack spares. Spare batteries, memory cards, USB drives, data cables etc. come in handy way more often than you’d think. Remember that electronics are not perfect and may fail at any point without explanation, so don’t forget to take along spares for everything crucial.
Don’t Be Afraid to Stray from the Pack
Everyone has seen the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. What people haven’t seen is that beautiful little café with the bright colors and warm coffee inside that only you may have seen. The point here is that you should try and look at things that people usually don’t see when they visit a new place. If you want to take photos of the usual landmarks then sure, go ahead. But also try to capture some new things that only you see, the way you see them. That is one of the most important things to remember if you want your travel photos to stand out.
Keep Your Gear Safe
This point can’t be stressed enough. You need to keep an eye on your gear like a hawk at all times. That is one of the reasons why it is recommended you travel light. That way, you can carry your gear with you in a backpack rather than having to leave it in some room. This also allows you to take your gear with you on the plane instead of having to put it with your main luggage and risk getting it damaged during the flight.
Get the most for your money
If you are traveling regularly for your photography then flights, accommodation, and daily expenses are an extra hit to your wallet. When it comes to flights, use a comparison site like Skyscanner or Cheapflights – if you are prepared to fly at unsocial times you can usually get cheaper deals. You can also use Google Flights to set up alerts for cheap tickets or for when prices are likely to go up. For accommodation, a hostel is often the best value as long as you are okay with sharing a room, but be sure to check the reviews and carry a padlock to safely secure your gear in a locker. Another great thing about hostels in that they have kitchens which can save you lots of money on eating out. When you do fancy trying the food, opt for street food and places where locals eat (you will probably find a lot of those stepping off the tourist trail).
When it comes to money check what currency the country uses and shop around for the best exchange rates. Many banks and bureau de changes have low rates and most debit cards charge high atm and spending fees. Consider getting a prepaid travel card like WeSwap, it has no atm withdrawal fees over $200, no spending fees, and you can get the some of the best rates for your foreign currency. When using any card watch out for local atm charges, they are hard to completely avoid but can vary in fee.
So if you ever plan to travel to another country for photography, arm yourself with all the tips in this blog and you’ll see how much they help you in making the most of your trip.