Pre-Travel Photography Tips & Tricks / by Gustav Thuesen

Before the plane departures to your next dream location you should go through these few steps before packing your travel camera bag. A little preparation will make your travel photography easier when you arrive. Here is a list of things that I go through before the my travel begins.

First I check up on the location I’m traveling to as it will dictate my gear choice:

Location analysis. 

Time. What is the local time? Set your camera time to this before leaving. Once on location you will probably be too excited about your surroundings to think about it. 

Weather. How is the temperature, does it rain a lot, is it humid, is it windy? Use the country’s own weather service or I like to use for specific day forecast and for weather statistics from all over the world.  

Sun up/down. We all love those golden hours and the quality of light at those moments so before I go I check what time sunrise and sunset is. I use this website to check which also will show me the exact direction of the sun: . There are also apps which you can download to your smartphone e.g. SunSeeker.    

Moon. If you’re planning to photograph the night sky the moon can get in the way or maybe you want the moon in your epic city-scape. So check the moon phase and when the moon is up. The sun website will tell you this as well. 

Legal. How are the laws regarding photography - do you need permits? Are you allowed to shoot on the street. Most places you are allowed to shoot in public, but just check to make sure you don’t end up in trouble. 

Stealth considerations. Traveling to Paris or a remote village in the Alps? Depending on where the travel goes you might take thieves into consideration. Generally: The more people - the more stealth.    

After I’ve analyzed the location I can begin to choose what gear to bring.  

Camera gear. 

Body. I usually bring an extra body if I’m not limited by a small pack or that I have to carry it up a 3k mountain. 

Settings. Before I leave I usually set my camera time to local time of the location. Then I’m not in doubt when he photos were shot when I come home. 

Lenses. Size and weight constraints is usually a problem. Do I need f2.8 or can f4 do the job? The lens choice is also influenced by what activities will be done and the duration. A multi-day hike in the high alpine with full camping gear - you might leave the 2.8 holy trinity at home. A single day of shooting - go heavy. What you are shooting will of course also define what lenses you need to bring. For landscape photography a single wide angle can probably do the job. For all-round shooting I like to bring my 24-70 f2.8. Heavy, yes - but it does most jobs well.       

Power. Will you be at a hotel room every evening with an available power supply or are you in a tent with with ten hours of hiking to the nearest socket? If you have access to a power supply make sure to check the socket type and if you need to buy an adapter. These considerations will dictate how many batteries are necessary to bring. I generally calculate with an average of 150 shots a day when I’m traveling and camera battery ratings are not real life ratings - subtract 10 % then you have a more realistic number. If it is cold batteries die way quicker (check out my winter sports guide), so take that into consideration as well.    

Memory. Do you bring a computer where you can download the photos and clear your memory card? If not you better bring a good deal of memory.  

Just as important as camera gear is your personal gear. So, remember to pack personal gear which will keep you comfortable. If you are focused on being cold or wet you can’t focus on taking good photos.

So to recap: Check the weather, time and sun-schedule of your location and pack according to your activity. Ready for take-off now? Good, enjoy your travel.