Before I found photography, I had only been on a plane once in my entire life, and ALL I dreamed of was traveling the world with my camera in hand.
Now, 15 years into being a photographer, I’ve traveled to places and corners of the world that I never imagined. Photography has taken me to Central America waking up to the sound of howler monkeys, eating authentic jerk chicken on overwater bungalows in Jamaica, island hopping in the Virgin Islands location scouting, visiting private islands in Fiji, and jumping into fresh water springs in Bali!
Traveling the world has exposed me to different cultures, shown me infinite possibilities, and given me the tools to be way more than a better photographer… but to be a better person. A better human.
It reminds me of this quote below, and is something I’ve experienced time and time again when it comes to traveling for photography. I hope it inspires you, too.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
There’s pain and beauty that comes with traveling, it opens your eyes to other cultures and ways of life that are different from what we know. And it teaches you A LOT, and one of the things I feel like I’ve streamlined the most after years of trekking mountains of camera gear around the globe is how to travel efficiently and safely with all my camera gear.
I’ve learned a LOT of hard lessons and tips throughout the years, and in today’s podcast episode I share my top 10 tips for traveling with camera gear. All 10 tips are in the full episode so if you haven’t checked it out yet, make sure to press play because inside the episode I go MUCH deeper and you don’t want to miss all the tips, but here are three to get you started before your next trip!
1. NEVER. CHECK. YOUR. CAMERA. GEAR.
First things first, friends: NEVER. CHECK. YOUR. CAMERA. GEAR. Never. Things get lost, stolen, and broken… and your camera gear is way too precious for that. So you’ll need to sacrifice one of your personal carry-on bags for the sake of your camera bag.
Find a camera bag that you LOVE. It’s a plus if it has wheels and the ability to be a backpack, too. When I travel with my camera, I use the Think Tank Airport Takeoff Bag, and I’m obsessed with it. It’s the best camera bag I’ve ever had, and it has wheels that keep me from having to carry it in the airport BUT also has a backpack capability so that I don’t have to drag my bag through sand, down cobblestone sidewalks, or up a flight of stairs. It’s EVERYTHING.
2. Bundle Oversized Gear Together To Save on Baggage Fees
If you’re bringing light modifiers and oversized gear with you, don’t check each and every piece individually. Instead I bundle them all together in a snowboarding bag! When I’m traveling for shoots I always bring all of my lighting gear and reflectors, but it’s a LOT of stuff. If I individually checked every piece of it, it would cost my clients a fortune and it would be impossible to carry. That’s why a snowboarding bag is the perfect hack, because they’re huge and long enough to fit a ton of gear inside so I don’t have to check a billion individual pieces of gear.
3. Pack Portable Chargers For Power On The Go
Having the ability to power your camera and accessories is so important, and a charger is your BEST FRIEND when you’re traveling with your gear. On shoots I have brought portable power banks, solar chargers, and big generators depending on how remote the shoot would be and our power needs.
I’ve been lucky enough to bring Dustin (my husband) on shoots as my digital tech. So while I’m shooting I will be connected to a computer and Dustin is operating the computer, checking my shots, and loading them as I am shooting. It’s amazing, but to do this we need lots of power. So for this our go-to has always been to pack a generator in a luggage bag, because they’re SUCH an awkward size and they’re sooo heavy that they need wheels.
We did a shoot on a tiny sand bar in the middle of the Flores Sea near Bali. There was no shade and it was too hot on the sand causing the computer to overheat. So Dustin had to stay in a little boat right off shore with my laptop plugged into the generator for the entire day. I’ve also used the generator to charge my camera batteries, had makeup artists power hair dryers and curling irons onset, and clients used it to charge cell phones and portable speakers. Having extra charging capability is critical a lot of the time so make sure you’re covered in remote or unique situations.
More From This Episode
Whooo, friends — there you have it! That was three of my top 10 tips for traveling with camera gear AND making it easy, simple, and streamlined. Press play for the full episode.
Getting to travel for work… whether it’s getting to walk on beaches in Fiji and Hawaii, shoot from mountaintops in Australia and Norway, or stroll through beautiful busy streets in Paris… holds endless opportunities. It brings the world closer to you. It opens up your mind and it makes you a better person. It’s like the quote goes, “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”
There’s NOTHING quite like that feeling of inspiration that comes from making magic with your camera somewhere completely new. I’ve seen my students in The Photographer’s Path print their boarding passes, step onto planes, travel to new countries and stretch the limits of their creativity as they grow their businesses being the photographers they’ve dreamed of becoming.
I’m so proud of them, and I’m proud of you too, regardless of whether you’re shooting clouds on top of Haleakala in Hawaii or walking 5 steps out of your front door to photograph a flower, b/c you’re on this journey of being a photographer.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and don’t forget to reach out to me on Instagram and share your travels with me!