Introduction: Tips for the Traveling Photographer
As a semi-pro photographer who has flown on over 50 flights and has visited more than 15 countries and over 20states, I know that photography is difficult enough without having to manage equipment, and looking like a tourist will make you miss out on the local culture, making you miss out on even more great pictures.
Step 1: Choose a Camera
When choosing a camera consider it's main function. Will it be for professional shots that will be sold in a gallery? If so choose a film SLR (or digital if you must). Are you snapping a few shots for friends and family to look at? Buy a slim point and shoot digital. Will you be taking lots of pictures, but don't want to sacrifice quality. Use a larger point and shoot.
This short paragraph won't be enough to decide for you. Do some research before dropping $200 on a camera.
I'm doing general family pictures as well as artistic shots I'm trying to sell.
I use a Minolta XG-A film SLR with a 135mm CPC telephoto lens and a 50mm Minolta lens. I also carry a Canon Powershot A75.
Step 2: Choose a Bag
The type of camera(s) and lenses you have will determine your bag.
There are three main types I will go over. They are:
Belt clip, compact bag with strap, and full sized/ camcorder bags.
Each has it advantages and disadvantages, but no matter what you need to chose one.
Another option is to use a diaper bag. It has plenty of compartments and is less likely to be stolen.
Step 3: Belt Clip
As the name implies these clip on your belt and hold your camera and nothing else. These are great for slim cameras like Casios or Samsungs. Remember, these don't hold batteries or cards, so don't be disappointed if you run out.
Pros: Small, lightweight, cheap
Cons: Small, easily stolen, no storage
Another alternative to these is to use a foam can cooler (aka "koozie").
Step 4: Compact Bag With Strap
These are better for higher end thick cameras like my Canon. These will hold your camera, cards, batteries, and any other small accessories you might need. These are the best for most people.
Pros: Can hold larger cameras, lightweight, cheap, can hold accessories
Cons: Not big enough for SLR, easy to steal
Step 5: Full Sized/ Camcorder Bags
These are best for SLRs with multiple lenses or for carrying multiple cameras. They are durable and can hold way more accessories. They can even hold chargers and large lenses.
Pros: Large, durable, lots of carrying capacity.
Cons: Heavy, bulky, can't be concealed
Step 6: Belt Clip Holster
These are pretty obvious. Only space for the camera. They are great for protecting your camera from falls and scratches.
Step 7: What to Pack in a Small Bag
In one of these bags you can pack more, but you'll still have to leave chargers and lenses behind. I pack:
Digital camera, 3 memory cards, 2 sets of batteries, a lens cloth (or small disposable pack), and a short usb cable
Step 8: Packing a Large Bag
Right now my main bag is a Kodak camcorder bag. It is big enough for everything I'll ever need, and is very durable. I use it to carry:
-Film SLR (Minolta XG-A)
-CPC 135mm telephoto lens (I keep my 50mm on the camera)
-Digital Camera (Canon A-75)
-Flash for Minolta
-Extra film. I usually take 2 extra rolls for a week long trip or 4-5 for a month. I only end up using around 1 a month
-Extra memory cards
-Extra batteries. 2 sets for the digital, 1 set for flash, and 3 sets for film
-Cable shutter release
-Lens cleaning cloth
-If possible my leatherman
-Robot patch. Just because I can
-Battery charger and car cable for charger
Step 9: Carrying a Tripod
There are many different options out there for tripods. I have a Sakar Tr-2l. It is relatively light and folds down nicely. When looking for a tripod consider it's weight, folded size. You want a tripod that folds small, but comes up to at least your elbows if not your shoulder. Another thin to consider are the arms that open when you unfold it. These arms keep the tripod even. My dad has a tripod without these and it is impossible to get it level.
To carry your tripod you can strap it to your bag or use a hook to keep it on your belt. I use a Bigg Lugg cordless tool hook. I also use a fabric strap to keep it from opening. One end is tied to the head and the other end has a slipknot that goes around the bottom of the legs.
If you are hiking consider a monopod.
Step 10: Day Trips With a SLR
When going on short trips I usually just carry my camera by its strap. I also take it's other lens in a binocular bag. If I have space I throw in an extra roll of film.
Step 11: Tips for Taking Pictures
Sometimes taking pictures can make you stand out in a crowd, and that is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Here's what you can do to make it better:
-Avoid using a tripod. Its harder, carrying is easier and you don't stick out.
-Stand off to the side. This is also good because you don't get bumped and jostled and you don't end up with the standard "postcard picture".
-Take side routes. Don't just go to the main attractions. You end up with a better view of the local culture.
-Ask people if you can take their picture. If you don't speak the language point and most people will understand what you want.
-Try to blend in. I've found that khakis and a button down or polo shirt blend in almost anywhere, and light gray or brown t-shirts look good even after a few days. They blend in even better if they are wrinkled or already worn.
-Avoid using flash. It draws attention to you.
-Make friends. Locals can help you out, especially if you aren't fluent in their language (watch out, some will rip you off for the same reason). They also know where all the hidden attractions are.
Step 12: Thats All
Well, thats all I can think of right now. If you have any questions feel free to comment.
Third Prize in the
Lonely Planet Travel Tips Contest