As an avid traveler and someone with a passion to capture and document their experiences while traveling, there are certain things take into consideration from a photography point of view.

I trust that the tips and advice I provide will assist you in your preparation for your holiday in terms of:

  • Choosing the correct camera and lens
  • Accessories and bags
  • Checklist before you travel

travel photography tips

Choosing the correct camera and lens

This choice greatly depends on the photographer as well as the type of holiday that is planned. Hobbyists, as well as the more professional photographers, are moving towards the lighter, more compact option with all the necessary features to meet the level of quality and usage that they require.

Today, cameras are being produced with top-end build qualities as well as excellent lenses that are built-in, offering good glass and range for most situations. This type of setup is known as a bridge camera. Take your time and do your research on the major brands such as Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony.

Pro tip: don’t just buy the cheapest one with all the features, spend a bit more and look at the quality and build of what is available. At the end of the day, you want something that lasts and will handle your type of holiday adventure. When making this choice, decide if night photography is a part of your itinerary, as there are flash considerations to investigate for this purpose, depending on your level and knowledge of photography.

Sometimes a smaller camera is better for those moments where you don’t want to be seen or have that moment interrupted, for the likes of street photography and reportage.

For the more serious or professional photographer, the DSLR, with a selection of lenses is the first choice. The disadvantage is the bulk and the weight that you will have to carry around. This is also the more expensive option, as the lenses are costly. You will require a different lens for each genre, meaning if you’re capturing landscape you will require a wide-angle lens, apposed to capturing wildlife, where a zoom lens is required. This is where it starts becoming costly due to the glass and the requirements for your photographic holiday experience.

If budget is of concern, consider an everyday lens such as a Canon 24-70 or a Canon 18-135 with a decent range variance, decent glass and a wide aperture range. There are some really good lenses that have multi-purpose uses that will provide great results, given that you know your way around a camera. It’s also a great idea to do a quick Beginner Photography Course in Cape Town that will familiarise you with photography and equipment basics before your trip.

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Accessories and memory cards

I suggest that a decent camera bag is purchased to endure the type of holiday you are planning. Consider weather conditions, because a good camera bag is well insulated and water-resistant to most rainy conditions. A good supportive and cushioned lining is important to protect your camera gear for those extreme adventures; the last thing you want is a broken camera from and accidental bump or a bang while on holiday.

Consider purchasing a camera bag that is slightly larger, so you only have one bag that you can store your camera gear as well as phones, wallets, sunglasses, etc. This will make your life a lot easier. I also suggest a bag that is not to “flashy” or brand conscious, as security should never be neglected. You do not want to be a target.

Depending on the type of holiday, consider taking a tripod, one that is portable and light for those low light and evening moments. Normally there is an attachment to your bag for convenience.

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Checklist before you travel

  • Ensure that your battery for your camera is charged, and perhaps have spares. The same applies to the speed light/flash batteries.
  • Take your battery charger, make sure that you have the correct plugs pr adapters for the country that you are visiting.
  • Memory cards should be formatted and I suggest that you have a few on hand, as you might just need one in a remote place when your card is full.
  • A reliable portable hard drive is also useful to download your images when you have a moment at the end of each day. This will assist with card storage as well as keep your images safe.

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Planning your photography moments when you arrive

References are helpful

If you are not familiar with your destination and wish to capture the best possible images, do some research on the pros, cons and best angles at the popular tourist spots. Apps like Instagram are very helpful for this purpose.

Look at the composition, the angles, the lighting and the time of day, all which play a major role in taking the perfect photograph, being at the right place at the right time. Do not just go and try “wing it” as this seldom really works.

My old saying that I go by: “See the light, take the shot”. The light is one of the most important considerations. Get up early for the golden hour and avoid midday sun. Even diffused light is best for most outdoor daytime situations as it eliminates glare and dappled light and shadows, which can ruin a great photograph. Plan the day properly before just going out and about. If the light is bad, go back early the next morning or later that afternoon. It’s worth it, I promise.

We have various photography courses in Cape Town that you can choose from, depending on your experience level. We teach in studio and outdoors with a practical, hands-on approach.