Packing Tips for Photographers

Travel Photography

First of all, I want to state that this blog is more for the person who enjoys photography and wants to take full advantage of their traveling opportunities. Professional photographers already know what they want to bring and why. However, on that same note, I’m a photojournalist and when I started traveling more, I used to pack everything but “the kitchen sink” (so to speak). This is why I’m writing this post.


In 2018, I traveled to Spain and Portugal to perform with the Oregon Arts Orchestra. I was excited and nervous. I had only been playing the cello for about four years, which is little compared to all the other talented and experienced professional musicians. As I was getting ready for the trip, I decided that this would be a great opportunity for me to get incredible photos. I couldn’t pack every single lens and accessory, but I sure did cram as much as I could. My backpack was so heavy that I had to see a chiropractor after I got back from the trip. And do you know what the real kicker is? My Sony camera never left the bag. Not once. I ended up using my iPhone and my adorable little Minolta digital camera. Yes, I felt a little stupid, but I learned an important lesson.


I did a lot of research on travel photography before I left for my trip because I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity of traveling abroad. However, I didn’t take into account about how much pressure I might have being on tour with an orchestra. I was responsible for carrying and setting up my gear (very quickly I might add) and making sure that I executed my performances well. Being much less experienced than the other musicians, I was extremely anxious, and I had to work twice as hard to manage the material. In hindsight, I realize that the concerts were stressful enough for me, so it wasn’t very practical to expect that I would also attempt some creative shoots with my camera. In the end, I enjoyed taking photos with my little digital camera and iPhone because it was easy to slip it in my back pocket and snap a few photos.


Another factor to consider is your traveling accommodations. It’s one thing to bring all your gear, if you’re going to be staying in one location and you can just bring what you need on any particular day. However, that was not the case for me. We were touring and often we had to bring everything with us to the next location. By the time I returned from my trip, my shoulder was in very bad shape. So unless I have a secure place for my camera equipment, I only bring what I know I’ll use. These are the questions I ask myself when I’m packing for an excursion.

1.) What is my goal?

2.) What kinds of photos will I mostly like be taking? (Unless I know that I’ll be photographing something that’s very far away, I won’t bring my telephoto lens. I’m mostly a street photographer, so I tend to stick to my 24-70mm or 50mm prime lens which gives me a range of options.)


There’s actually no right answer to what a you should bring on a trip. It really just depends on what works best for you. To be honest, most of the time when I travel, I mainly use my iPhone or small digital camera. The reason I tend not to use my DSLR is that when I’m in crowded places, I would rather use gear that has a smaller profile. For example, it’s easier to snap street photography discreetly with an iPhone than a large camera. Plus, it’s a responsibility to take an expensive camera on a trip, and sometimes it’s just easier not to have to worry about it.


In any event, it shouldn’t really matter what type of camera you use. Limitation is style. The most important thing is that you’re having fun and taking photos.


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