Monday-Morning Moving: 13 Ways To Become A Better Travel Photographer

iStock_000012144878LargeBy Dana Vanden Boogart

Images capture our memories and experiences. While everyone isn’t a professional photographer, we all want to take the best images to preserve our moments – especially our travel moments.

Whether you’re looking to take better travel photos or preparing to take your first travel shot, here’s a bunch of tips on what to choose and how to get it there.

The first decision to make is what type of camera you’re going to bring. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding:

  • What’s the quality of photos I want to get from this trip? And what is the minimal equipment I can take to achieve that? If you’re looking for timeless, authentic photos, use film and a traditional single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera. If you want quick, large-format high-resolution pictures, use a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera). If you want a compact outfit that provides middle-range-quality, smaller photos, use your phone. Along with that, just because your grandma got you a DSLR with four lenses last holiday season doesn’t mean you bring all four lenses. Pick what you need; don’t overpack. And whatever you use, make sure you know how it works before you leave. Don’t assume you’ll figure it out once you get there.
  • Be sure you pack the right camera in your carryon if you want to take great photos from your seat on the plane.
    Be sure you pack the right camera in your carryon if you want to take great photos from your seat on the plane.

    Do I trust this camera more with me or in my checked bag? Keep in mind that your bags have a journey too. They’ll be handled, slid, and bounced around by many things during their journey. Do you want your camera to go on that journey or yours? Also, know yourself. Is your name going to be the next one announced over the PA system saying they found your camera in the café by Gate 28?

  • What’s realistic for me to carry around during my adventures? If your trip has a lot of statue stops, a DSLR may be your best choice. But if you’re going to be walking miles upon miles, will you get tired carrying it around? If so, then maybe your smartphone is a better option.
  • Will I want to upload and edit images while I’m there? If you need to upload edited images daily to Facebook so your friend group knows what you’re doing, check to see if your hotel has a computer lounge. If not, bring your laptop. Downloading images to your personal computer during the trip can also free up SD-card space. Many phones have sufficient editing apps loaded into the camera; again, play around and learn what you have before you leave if you’re planning on using your phone as your camera.
  • Will I want to use this camera to take images from the plane or immediately upon my arrival? Research your flight plan to see if you’ll fly over any specific landmarks that could be visible from the sky. For instance, when I flew over the Alps I thanked myself for not checking my DSLR. Also keep in mind that your digital camera or smartphone may not be able to zoom as much as a DSLR setup would.

Once you’ve decided what type of camera you are going to bring, pack accordingly. Does your camera need a SD card? Make sure you have a large enough card and a backup – because you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the Colosseum with a full SD card… trust me on that one.

Things to remember to pack:

  • A means to charge your image-taking device. If you’re going abroad, make sure to research the power regulations of the countries you’re traveling to. This is a must.
  • A backup image-storage method if you run out of space on your SD card, or lots of rolls of film.
  • A means to stow the actual device. This means finding the right camera bag for you or wearing pants … preferably with large pockets. Keep in mind that many museums and historical places have put more restrictions on the size and type of bags you can take in. So if the camera bag’s not going in, 1) where is it staying and 2) how are you going to carry the device without it? Think before you pack.
  • A carrying method for larger devices. A simple strap will save you from holding on to your camera all day. A camera bag is a great carrying method, but for quick shots you’ll want your camera at the ready.

Now you’re ready to get the camera on the plane and to your desired destination.

Always have a good camera at the ready so you can get those once-in-a-lifetiome shots.
Always have a good camera at the ready so you can get those once-in-a-lifetiome shots.

A few things to remember:

  • You will need to take these devices out and put them in their own tray. Don’t cram your DLSR under your sweater, and snack bars, and wallet, and passport, and whatever else you have in your bag. Please have it ready to keep the lines moving – for everyone’s sake.
  • If you have film or X-ray-sensitive equipment, DO NOT CHECK THEM. Undeveloped film can be fogged or damaged with X-ray exposure, so don’t risk ruining your hard earned photos. While the signs say certain film is okay to put under the X-ray scanner, don’t risk it. Tell the TSA agent(s) you don’t want your film scanned, so they can inspect your film without putting it through the scanners. That being said, don’t load film into your camera until after it’s gone through the scanner. If the TSA agent pushes back and there’s  nothing you can do,  bring a backup camera in a different format – meaning a DSLR or phone if you’re shooting film, and vice versa.
  • If you check your camera in your luggage, take care of it. Take the lens off of a DSLR; stress on the camera is bad news. Also, keep all cameras in a hard case tightly packed in the center of your checked bag, regardless of camera style.
  • Keep an eye on your camera at all times. While talking to your family, or a TSA agent, hold onto your camera, or make sure you have your eyes on it. Expensive cameras are an airport thief’s hot ticket. Don’t get caught looking away for a minute; your $2,000 camera will be a few terminals down in a thief’s arms by the time you look back.

These tips will help you get your camera to your desired destination with minimal hiccups. And just to be safe, buy ExactCare before you go, and hold on to your original receipt for the camera.

Next time we’ll give you even more insight on what type of camera is best for your travel photography. Stay tuned!

Dana Vanden Boogart is Graphic Designer at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. She loves travel and travel photography.

Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.