Taking photos close to home is a great way to find the beauty you would normally ignore, but there’s nothing better for our creative juices than traveling. All those new sights, colors, people, architecture, and life can be just the inspiration you need to take the best photos of your life.
Of course, any top-range smartphone can take a great image, but a lens that is going everywhere in your pocket isn’t going to cut it if you want to take truly breathtaking images. So… what equipment do you need?
It’s important to remember that it’s best to travel light – lugging around all your equipment might be okay for dedicated trips out to photograph, but if you’re traveling and sightseeing, that huge bag is going to be a burden. Not only will it be heavy, but you’ll also feel like you have to watch it like a hawk.
So, here are the 7 essentials every traveling photographer needs in their bag:
7 Essentials Every Traveling Photographer Needs
1. A Great (Ideally) Lightweight Camera
If you have a choice of camera, pick the camera that is versatile and lightweight. If you’re purchasing a new camera for your next trip, make sure you get to know it before you go. Good photography requires control, and if you don’t know which buttons to press or which knobs to turn instinctively, your pictures are going to suffer. Like buying a new pair of hiking boots just before an epic trek, don’t buy a new camera just before you travel. If working professionally, take two camera bodies just in case one breaks.
2. The Right Lenses
You don’t need to take a million different lenses – for most, two will be enough. The best kit for your bag will be a 16-35mm and a 70-200mm, with a 1.4x teleconverter. (Ideally, both f/4 to save weight). Of course, if you’re a relative beginner, then a good all-purpose lens will get you great results, but this is a great combination for advanced photographers.
If you need to travel super light, for example, while hiking, then a good 24-70mm or 24-105mm is a great choice. And, if you’re going out to shoot wildlife photography, then you’re going to need something longer than 400mm, with as wide an aperture as you can afford, with a macro thrown in the bag for good measure.
3. Memory Cards
Lots! You don’t want to run out of space, even if you can transfer via Wi-Fi, so take as many memory cards as you can. It’s up to you whether you want a few memory cards with a huge amount of space or many smaller cards. Some professional photographers prefer to use small (8GB) memory cards, so there’s no chance they’ll lose the day’s images if files get corrupted, but it really depends how paranoid you are!
4. A Lightweight Tripod
If you are into architecture and landscapes, then a tripod is a necessary inconvenience. If you can, get a good quality, compact, carbon fiber model with the head of your choice. There’s no point in having a tripod that is anything other than sturdy. For wildlife, a monopod might be a better choice or just ramp up the ISO.
A UV or haze filter is a must for protection. Beyond that, you can consider a circular polarizer and a neutral density filter for moving water, but it’s really up to your personal preference.
Always have a UV or haze filter on your lenses for protection. Other than that, a circular polarizer and a couple of grads are all I’d consider carrying plus, maybe, a neutral density filter for those moving water landscapes.
6. Rain Protection
If you’re headed to Egypt, this may not be a big factor, but if you’re going anywhere where it rains or downpours with any regularity, you need to take some rain protection for your camera (and you)! Make sure your equipment bag has at least some waterproofing, grab a cheap rain jacket for yourself, and something for your camera. There are a ton of different styles, but the ones that look like a glorified plastic bag work well and are wallet-friendly.
7. Spare Batteries!
Always take charged spare batteries in your bag and recharge them overnight.
That’s it for the necessities! Anything more depends on you and the sort of photography you like to do. Shoot RAW, and do the processing after so you have the most flexibility in the final look of your photos.
Of course, when you’re relaxing in the evening or when you get back from your trip, don’t forget to share your images right here on HDPick and become a part of the community!