Photography has long played a leading role in our lives. We have been photographed and filmed from the day we were born (let’s not dwell on that traumatic birth video), appeared in sensationally eighties family photo shoots and helped set up makeshift dark rooms for our Dad. I was the girl in my student union lugging around a clunky SLR camera, whilst my friends carried ‘snappy snap’ disposables. Not only did it severely impair my dancing, but I spent three years being called ‘David Bailey’.
Much before we started our blog, photography has therefore been something that we’ve enjoyed, loved and always tried to improve at. It is at the heart of our travels: often dictating where we go, what we see and what we do. The excitement of taking a beautiful photograph is still the highlight of any trip and something that encourages us to keep travelling.
These days, the phenomenal quality of most phone cameras, alongside the creative licence offered by many apps, means that most of us can easily photograph whilst we travel: pointing and snapping as we go. However, for anyone really passionate about travel photography, there are a number of essentials to make your job not only easier, but your photos more beautiful.
Below we’ve put together our travel photography essentials: equipment and accessories that we swear by for any photography adventure.
- The Camera
These days, travellers seem to fall into two camps: those who advocate the full SLR camera and those who prefer a compact. Both have their merits: whilst the SLR brings greater quality and creative control, it is bulky and not ideal for travel (not to mention the additional weight of any lenses). And whilst the compact is a great travel companion, you may get frustrated at the lack of range or flexibility on offer.
The 7D is a beautiful camera and has really encouraged us to step up our game when it comes to photography: inspiring us to spend more time learning how to use it to its full capability and less time pointing and shooting.
The G Shot, whilst considerably smaller, still offers fantastic quality and is ideal for storing whilst you travel. It also has built in WiFi, which is essential when travelling and wishing to upload photos instantaneously.
- A Travel Tripod
We understand: carrying a tripod whilst you travel doesn’t do much for the glamorous wanderlust look you’re after. But we guarantee it is worth it. If you want to capture those starry skies, or the bright lights of New York at night, then a tripod is essential. Furthermore, if you’re exploring HDR photography (in short: taking three exposures of the same scene and combining them for a high definition photo), then a tripod is also going to be your best friend. We would definitely recommend buying the Manfrotto Be Free tripod.
Or for a lighter camera, it’s cheaper version, the Manfrotto Compact Action Travel Tripod. Although both a little pricey, it’s far better to get a tripod that you know will be robust and sturdy, and able to take the weight of your SLR.
- Camera Bag
Letting your expensive camera roll around at the bottom of your handbag (something we’ve done far too often) is only going to end in tears. After a number of bumps and scratches, we eventually gave in and invested in some Lowepro cases, which offer neat little apartments and real padding to protect your camera. We found backpacks were much easier to use; allowing us to scramble up hills and trails, without worrying about dropping any expensive equipment. We both use the Lowepro Tahoe Backpack.
- Spare Batteries
Perhaps fairly obvious, but something we often forget! Always remember to pack at least one spare battery before you head out, to avoid the crushing disappointment of finally reaching your beautiful destination only to realise you’re going to have to photograph everything on your iPhone. Whilst we would recommend always ensuring you have your branded batteries with you, it can be quite expensive to buy these as spares (e.g. Canon can start around £50). As a cheaper backup, we tend to use these BPS alternative. Whilst they don’t have the same longevity as your usual battery, they are extremely useful in an emergency!
- A Non-Branded Camera Strap
Ever see tourists wandering around with ‘Canon’ or ‘Nikon’ straps around their necks, advertising their extremely valuable equipment? Avoid any encounters with muggers or thieves (something that regularly happens in crowded tourist hotspots) by buying an unbranded alternative. We use the extremely versatile Peak Design strap, which you can wear three ways (sling, strap or neck) and benefits from extra padding, to avoid that uncomfortable chaffing on the back of your neck!
- Wide Angle Lens
With travel photography comes landscapes: big, rolling, expansive landscapes. Whilst this looks great to the human eye, it can be frustrating to hold up your camera, only to realise you can capture a very small fraction of it. We use a wide angle lens more than any other: it provides us with the scope and versatility we need when shooting big scenes, cities or architecture. We saved up to buy a beautiful Canon L Series lens to do the job (these lenses really are incredible!): selecting the 17-40mm lens. Dreamy.
Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, we do use our phone cameras to capture images. With so many brilliant editing apps (VSCO and Snapseed to name but a few) we’ve often found that our phone cameras are more than enough for the lower resolution images we use on social media platforms such as Instagram. The only downfall of using your phone is how much battery you can drain. To make sure we never run out of juice, we recently both purchased a Mophie Juice Pack case, which recharges your phone by another 100%. This has been a product that is a definite life-changer and a key essential to any traveller using their phone to take their photographs.
Did we miss any essentials out? Let us know below!