Ten Good Habits for Traveling Photographers


Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to improve the odds of getting good photos no matter where you travel.  Make them habits so you can focus on your composition.

  1. Take two cameras.  Stuff happens.  Cameras get lost, broken and stolen.  You don’t want to be without a camera do you?  They don’t have to be identical.  One can even be a point and shoot.
  2. Take your camera manual.  Even if you’re not always trying to find new camera features, your camera settings will ‘magically’ change one day and you’ll need to know how to reset them.
  3. Change your camera settings to your default before every shoot.  Set your white balance, mode, ISO and aperture or shutter speed to a default setting that can be used for a grab shot.  I set mine to auto white balance, aperture priority mode, 400 ISO and an aperture of f9 in order to create a fast shutter speed giving me a reasonable chance of catching photos of moving objects.  I change the settings when I have a chance to evaluate the light.
  4. Take a tripod.  Depending on your style of photography, you may not need it very often but, when you do need it, it is essential.  Sunrise and sunset photography beg for the stability of a tripod as do indoor and long exposure shots.
  5. Keep a flash on your camera.  A camera flash can be used in many ways other than just lighting up the scene.  It can put the twinkle in their eyes or reveal a shadowy area.  But, if you don’t keep it on your camera, you won’t have the option to use it.
  6. Back up your photos to two places every day.  Again, stuff happens.  You don’t want to lose those great shots you took so download your images to two different devices (no your data card does not count as one backup).  I use two remote hard drives attached to my laptop.  One contains my Lightroom library and the other contains the second backup.  That way I am free to reuse my data cards if I need to.
  7. Use rechargeable batteries.  Be good to the earth and your wallet.  Rechargeable batteries are a better long term investment and, provided you take the charger with you, enable you to keep shooting with flash in areas where batteries are not available.
  8. Get up early.  Even if you’re not a morning person, when you travel it pays to get up early.  Sunrise and the early morning light that follows it is some of the best light you will get when you travel.  Plus, you can beat the crowd to most places and watch the rest of the world wake up and start their day.
  9. Stay after sunset.  Sunsets generally offer another opportunity for good light when you travel so change your schedule and keep shooting for at least 30 to 40 minutes after the sun sets.  This is when the sky lights up and offers a blue cast not found at any other time of day.
  10. Don’t change lenses, change cameras.  Your best chance of catching a fleeting moment is to be prepared with the right equipment.  Put a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto lens on another and take both of them with you.  Your ability to switch between the two quickly will get you shots that the others miss.  When I travel somewhere that I want to be sure and get good images but I don’t know what to expect, I always carry two cameras.  One camera has a full frame sensor and a very wide angle lens and the other camera has an APS-H sensor and a 70 to 200mm lens.

May your travel and your photography both be rewarding!


      Roger Nelson