My travel & photography blog has become part of my journey to see the world in a new way and I’m pleased share that vision with you. I love what I do, as well as the people and places I photograph. Each person and every place has its own story.But sometimes the best stories are the ones you star in. Travel Photographer with plans to take over the world… One photograph at a time.
So you’ve booked the travel photography trip of your dreams, or maybe a client is sending you on your first assignment somewhere across the globe. It’s time to plan your excursion, buy any necessary gear, and pack for the trip. So what should you bring? Here’s a list of travel photography essentials that will elevate your travel photography to the next level.
Camera, Lenses & Tripod
There are dozens of cameras, lenses, and tripods on the market, each with various strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the right setup could be the topic of its own article. The best goal for travel photography is to pack the best photographic punch (highest quality photos/best focal length coverage) into the smallest/lightest amount of gear. I’ll get into cameras and lenses in a future post but for now, let’s talk about travel accessories and services that make my life better.
Having a phone capable of taking great pictures is also a good strategy. Something like the iPhone X will allow you to always have a photographic device, even if you’re just out to dinner. You never know what shot could be waiting for you! Plus, all the awesome apps on phones these days makes it absolutely indispensable as possible the most important tool in my arsenal. I’ll share more about phone apps in a future post as well.
Additionally, for certain trips, you may want to consider a fun, yet solid, point-and-shoot waterproof camera like the Olympus TG-5 for photographing in the elements, at the beach or underwater. We use these type of cameras on my Jordan Photo Tour where we do an awesome water hike in the spectacular Wadi Musa Canyon.
Having the perfect messenger bag to carry and organize your travel photography essentials is key to a stress-free trip. You want your bag to be large enough to store all your essential computer and other non-camera gear, yet small enough that you can easily carry it around on journeys of various types and lengths. I like the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag 15”. After clearing the laptop out it can also hold a complete small daily photography kit and comes with a built-in tripod feature that works with most tripods.
Backing up your photos is of the utmost importance when out in the field. You don’t want to spend money, trek all the way to some epic travel destination, and photograph a truly memorable sunrise, only to then lose your photo file. The Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive is a great option for its combination of small size and large storage capacity.
Your phone can be the most valuable tool other than your camera. I’m an iPhone fan and with all the awesome travel and photography related apps available on both iOS and Android, well… Don’t leave home without it!
And don’t forget to keep your memory cards safe by using something like the Gepe CardSafe Extreme. I’ve used these for over a decade and it is the perfect solution to safely storing all your valuable memory cards.
Headphones can make all the difference for comfort while in transit. And travel, and life is often better with music. I recommend listening to music associated with the cultures and countries you plan on visiting. While travelling around the world running awesome photography tours in some spectacular destinations, I’ve also gotten into listening to podcasts and audiobooks and these headphones are perfect for allowing me to concentrate on the narration rather than any ambient noise.
Some ideas for headphones include the Bose QuietComfort 35 (my all-time favorite travel accessory) and the Bose QuietComfort 20. These are top-of-the-line, noise-canceling options that allow you to reduce surrounding distractions and focus on your music. While they are expensive, I use them not only on my travels but daily while at home as well. A cheaper alternative is the RHA MA650 Wireless. Earplugs
For those times when you want to catch some shut-eye on the plane or block out the street noise during a night in a big city, you’ll need some earplugs. Hearos are my all time favorite earplugs. They are very comfortable and block out most of the noise in any noisy situation. Adaptors, Power Strips, and Portable Chargers
As a travel photographer, you’ll be carrying quite a lot of electronic gear with you – cameras, phones, laptops, etc. You’ll want to make sure these devices are always properly charged, and to do that you’ll want to:
Packing clothing for travel will depend on the person and the type of trip. But the key is to buy durable gear because you might not always be able to replace it in the field depending on where you travel. It’s also a good idea to purchase high-quality clothing so you can buy an item once and be set for the next 5-10 years. Keeping warm, dry, blister-free, and comfortable is of vital importance to staying healthy on the road, trust me!
Arcteryx is my preferred brand for top-of-the-line jackets, perfect for cooler trips like Iceland or Antarctica. The Beta AR and Atom LT Hoody are two of my “never leave home without it” items. I can’t say enough good things about the whole Arc’teryx line of clothing. Half my wardrobe consists of Arc’teryx gear!
Smart wool socks are a must as well. Smartwool makes premium merino wool socks for hiking, running, biking and everyday wear. Good shoes are only part of the way to keep your feet comfortable and blister free. Trust me, these socks will make all the difference if you want to have happy feet.
Haglofs makes comfortable and durable walking shoes, which are important since you’ll be on your feet a lot during most travel days.
I have gone through a ton of shoes in my travels and the Haglofs ROC Icon GT Walking Shoes are my top choice of all time. If you’ll be doing a lot of trekking hiking in snowy climates like Norway, the Salomon Men’s Toundra Pro boots are unbeatable. Additional Assorted Essentials
One other thing you might want to bring on your trip is a lighting device for when you need to explore and photograph in low-light situations. A headlamp like the Petzl Tikka XP works well so you can keep your hands free while hiking or working with your camera.
Finally, bringing Ziploc plastic bags on your trips is always a good idea. These zip up bags and even regular garbage bags can be used in a pinch to protect your camera (and bag) during the rain, store tiny travel items, pack toiletries, or keep certain valuables free from moisture. And speaking of moisture, I recommend always packing Silica Gel Desiccant Packets in your messenger bag when you travel.
Proper Travel Planning
Of course, travel photography involves quite a bit of planning. Finding the best flight, hotel, and car rental deals will free up funds, giving you more money to spend at your destination.
Google Flights is a great tool for finding the cheapest route options for any given flight path. I particularly like the Flight Insights Tool, which allows you to see and compare the departure and arrival dates to find the cheapest date combinations.
Hipmunk is another fast, easy way to plan travel. I like it for its comprehensive travel search, from commercial flights, trains, and charter flights to hotels and vacation rentals through Airbnb.
Finally, Expedia is always a quick and easy method of scanning for flights, hotels, and car rentals.
“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Join me on Ugo Cei’s upcoming webinar where I’ll be the guest discussing How to Photograph on Safari.
For many photographers, going on a photographic safari in Africa is right at the top of their bucket list… and for good reason! This is one of the most incredible photo opportunities that anyone will ever live and in the end, it isn’t just about great photos, it is also about having an awesome life experience that you’ll never forget.
In 2019 I’ll be running photo safaris during two different times of year and both will offer unique wildlife photo opportunities that our groups will be able to capture with their cameras. In order to take better photos on safari, you’ll need to rethink some of the ways you shoot if this is not a familiar subject matter to you.
There are lots of things to consider when it comes to stepping up your wildlife photography, so in the webinar, we will be discussing:
Lenses best suited for safaris
When should I go on safari?
Focusing in different situations
Staying safe on safari
Photo safari vs. tourist safari
During the show, we will be taking your questions as well as covering the mentioned topics so get your questions ready.
Running these photo safaris for Discovery Photo Tours is one of my all-time favorite things to do and I can’t wait to be back in Africa next year to share the experience all over again with a select few guests on another luxury adventure in Tanzania. If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the Big Five, witnessing the incredible river crossing at the Mara river, and so much more, then tune in to the show! These safaris have changed my life and I’m happy to share some insight with you about the journey and the experience of being on a photo safari in Africa.
As many of you know, I love to use quotes on my blog. Like a good photo, a good quote can stop you in your tracks and fill you with wonder. And when it comes to travel quotes, a good quote can make you stop what you’re doing, buy a plane or a train ticket, pack your suitcase, and run out the door for your next adventure.
So here are 50 of my all-time favorite travel quotes.
Hope you enjoy them!
The Eifel Tower as seen from Trocadéro at dawn
“To Travel is to Live” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
“Travel makes you modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” ~ Gustave Flaubert
“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness., and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” ~ Mark Twain
“The journey not the arrival matters.” ~ T.S. Eliot
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.” ~ Paul Theroux
Actor staging a reenactment of a scene from the Arab revolt of 1916-1918
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” ~ St. Augustine
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” ~ Freya Stark
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” ~ Pat Conroy
“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” ~ Chief Seattle
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~ Ibn Battuta
“Live your life by a compass, not a clock.” ~ Stephen Covey
“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” ~ Dalai Lama
The historic town of Hallstatt in Austria
“A ship in a harbor is safe, but it not what ships are built for.” ~ John A. Shedd
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~ Jawaharial Nehru
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” ~ Maya Angelou
“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost.” ~ Ray Bradbury
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Matsuo Basho
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart!” ~ Confucius
“I travel not to cross countries off a list, but to ignite passionate affairs with destinations.” ~ Nyssa P. Chopra
Blue hour in Lofoten, Norway
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” ~ Anais Nin
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” ~ Tim Cahill
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~ Seneca
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” ~ Ray Bradbury
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” ~ Susan Sontag
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” ~ Wendell Berry
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” ~ Herman Melville
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ~ Lin Yutang
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~ Miriam Beard
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde
“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…” ~ Jack Kerouac
“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” ~ Erol Ozan
“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” ~ Lawrence Durrell
“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” ~ John D. Rockefeller
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” ~ Robert Frost
Frozen fairytale scene on Lake Bled in Slovenia
And there we have it – 50 great quotes from famous novelists, businesspeople, explorers and travelers, philosophers, and religious leaders. I hope these quotes inspire you to plan your next adventure!
Lighting is everything in photography. It matters not if we are talking about the kind of work I do in travel or be it any other form of the craft. Wedding photographers have to deal with tricky mixed light situations, studio photographers are masters of controlling all the light that hits their subject, wildlife shooters have the best of luck when the light is soft at sunrise and sunset, architectural interior photographers have to be meticulous with accent lighting, and even pure news photojournalists get the best results when the lighting offers them the opportunity to make a scene tell a better story.
As for me… My job is a lot about hurry up and wait for the best light to show up and it is all at the mercy of Mother Nature. I can revisit a place many times and I do that often with the photo tours I run all over the world but that doesn’t mean that I’m seeing the same scene again, just the same place but under different circumstances and lighting, of course.
“There is a crack in everything.That's how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen
Some places look stunning in the daytime with a beautiful sunrise or sunset light bathing the scene in a warm comforting glow. Other locations truly shine long after the sun has set and the magic of the contrast between light and dark plays out in front of my very eyes in their eternal battle for dominance. And then there are places like this magical spot in Lofoten in Norway that just have a tendency to shine no matter the time of day.
There is an ethereal quality to the light this far above the Arctic circle. In February, when I run my annual Norway photo tour, the sun remains closer to the horizon all day long and that provides us, intrepid photographers, the opportunity to get wonderful soft light all day long which of course improves our chances of taking better photos.
When darkness falls
“When he shall die,Take him and cut him out in little stars,And he will make the face of heaven so fineThat all the world will be in love with nightAnd pay no worship to the garish sun.”― William Shakespeare
I love the way this scene looks incredible in both day and night time settings. I find that these locations are rare and that there will usually be one time of day where the place truly shines for photography purposes but in this case, I’m not even going to debate it. I’ll just sit back and enjoy both types of lighting with a grin on my face, knowing that I’ll be back there next February with another lucky group of photographers on my next Lofoten photo tour.
One of the coolest things about this particular photo is the fact that those red cabins are actually our hotel rooms while we are in Norway. The old red beautifully refitted fisherman’s cabins are the perfect setting not just for photography purposes but also for relaxing and some serious fine dining prepared by our local chef.
Whether you prefer the light or dark isn’t the point. To me, it is all about exploring the different opportunities that offer the photographer another chance to capture the essence of a place, enveloped in varying luminescence.
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” ― Og Mandino
So, you’re going on a trip. Do you need to buy travel and medical insurance?
Well, unfortunately, the answer is not as clear-cut as you would hope. The answer is: most likely but it depends. It depends on the type of person you are, the place to where you are traveling, the activities in which you plan to engage, and the things you plan to take with you. Travel insurance is entirely dependent on the traveler’s circumstances and the type of insurance coverage. It can either save you a great deal of money and grief or if not used feel like a waste of money. So, it’s important to consider wisely and weigh the pros and cons.
For instance, if you’re the type of person who is accident-prone, who needs to be at a place at a specific time, or who likes to travel to unpredictable or high-crime areas, travel and medical insurance might be a safety net you want to consider. However, if on the other hand you’re the type of person who travels light and who plans to travel to a familiar place with good security, then travel insurance may not be as necessary for you but do you really want to risk it, especially for the medical insurance?
Also, let’s consider where and when are you traveling. Major seasonal weather patterns could cause flight cancellations. Norway in the winter? Southeast Asia during the rainy season? The Caribbean during hurricane season? If so, you likely want good insurance coverage.
Finally, you must decide whether the fiscal burden is worth it to you if something goes wrong on your trip. Did you buy a cheap, last-minute flight? Is the trip only for a few days? Or is this the trip of a lifetime, one you’re pouring thousands of dollars into? If the latter, you’ll want insurance.
Of course, in general, if it will give you peace of mind to have a safety net when you travel, and you have the funds for the added cost, then go for it and secure travel and medical insurance regardless of the type of trip or your destination. Peace of mind is priceless but not having the proper insurance when you need it can be disasterous.
What Does Travel and Medical Insurance Cover?
Travel insurance can protect lost or delayed luggage, reimburse for trip cancellation and trip interruption, provide emergency medical insurance, and provide accidental death or dismemberment coverage, and more.
Baggage and personal items coverage: travel insurance will usually cover up to about $500 per lost bag.
Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance: coverage varies so check out the different policies to make sure that you have the coverage for the value of your trip in the event of trip cancellation. So, for example, if you have to cancel your trip because of a serious illness, or a natural disaster forces change of plans, you could be reimbursed.
Emergency medical insurance: it’s important to have health insurance wherever you are in the world. And since some health insurance companies don’t cover international travel, travel insurance companies often offer between $10,000 and $100,000 or more for emergency medical care. A good friend of mine recently broke his back while on an adventure in the Amazon. He needed to be medevaced out of the rainforest by helicopter and flown by air ambulance back to Canada for treatment. Without the proper insurance, this would have bankrupted him and his wife. The costs associated with this kind of emergency can easily reach several hundred thousand dollars (USD).
Accidental death or dismemberment insurance: In case the absolute worse happens and you or someone you love dies on a trip, travel insurance could pay out as much as $500,000.
Remember, you might already have life insurance that covers death and dismemberment. You might also have health insurance that covers emergencies in other countries (so check with your health insurance company to see if you’re already covered). If going on a tour, make sure you check with the operators to see if it is mandatory to have travel and medical insurance and what the criteria are.
Where to Get Travel Insurance
First, always make sure to buy travel insurance BEFORE your trip. Second, know that there are multiple options for travel and medical insurance, each possibly covering different things. Airlines often offer insurance for flight cancellation. Some credit card companies offer trip cancellation or baggage and personal items coverage. Always check to be 100% sure exactly what is covered with whatever form of insurance you have or think you have.
Travel and medical insurance companies will usually offer some combination of protections or all of the above. While there are a lot of options out there for travel and medical insurance providers, my tour company, Discovery Photo Tours uses World Nomads and Global Rescue for our travel and medical insurance needs. World Nomads is backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners and cover a range of adventure sports and activities. Global Rescue covers field rescue and will pay for evacuation back to your home hospital of choice and much more. Contact them directly to get more details about how they can put your mind at ease with the right travel and medical insurance policy.
Every so often I get a request to do an interview either in written form, over the phone, and even the odd podcast.
Last week I got the chance to chat with Aaron Parker who hosts a podcast called “The Lucky Few” on the Notable Life website. It’s always fun the get the chance to talk to different people about photography, travel, and whatever else comes up. Aaron is doing a new series on the podcast called “Free Spirits” and thanks to my friends Dave and Deb from the awesome travel blog The Planet D, introductions were made and shortly afterwards Aaron and I had the opportunity to talk while I was home for a while.
Peyto Lake in Banff National Park – Canada
Each time I’m interviewed I get to reminisce about places I’ve visited, people I’ve travelled with, and extraordinary experiences I get to live. On that note, here are a few images I’ve not shared here on the blog.
The Fushimi Inari Tori Gates in Kyoto – Japan
Every photo evokes good feelings about the places I was visiting and brings a smile to my face. There’s a power that photography has that can bring a bit of happiness into my life even on days when I’m feeling down. In fact, I guess I could say that this happens ESPECIALLY on days when I’m feeling down. I am and remain grateful for each opportunity to explore the world and share those experiences with the people that join me on my tours or on the assignments that I get.
Zebra on the plains of Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
I often forget that I have seen so much variety when it comes to the subject matter I photograph. Nature and landscape, historic sites, wildlife, culture, and modern day architectural marvels. Yup, in a word… Awesome!
New York City at sunset – USA
The places, people, or animals that I photograph have a unique story and that story is sometimes more about what happens behind the scenes or even directly to who is standing behind the camera. I love that about photography.
A street vendor in Hanoi – Vietnam
Aaron and I get into this and much more in the podcast and I hope that you find it interesting to get some background info on what it took for me to get to do this kind of work and why I love doing it.