7 Commonly-Answered Questions About Travel Photography

By Caroline Schmidt. Posted

In the October issue of Digital SLR Photography magazine, out now, we've a detailed guide to travel photography that equips you with all you need to know when planning, packing and photographing. From wildlife and landscapes to culture and cities, there's prize-winning advice from leading professionals awaiting you, including what kit you'll need and what you can do without. But, for now, we picked out 7 of the most commonly-answered questions by our readers when planning a photography adventure abroad...

1. How can I find out if a destination may be too dangerous for me to visit?

The Foreign Office issues up-to-date travel advice for all countries regularly, especially in places where there’s political unrest or a risk of disease outbreak: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Forums and travel blogs are also a good source of information from recent travellers.

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2. Can I balance a photo trip with a family holiday and any advice for doing so?

It depends, does your family like photography as much as you? We’d recommend keeping the trips separate or perhaps arranging a photo workshop for a day or two whilst the family enjoys the pool. If you’re on holiday with family, be with the family rather than spending a lot of time shooting. Make your photography about capturing family memories as well as a sly bit of culture to ‘pad out’ the family album. If you’ve an understanding partner, maybe you can sneak out before they’ve woken for sunrise or plan a day’s excursion, but finding a happy balance can be tricky.

3. Do I need a model or property release?

Only if you plan to sell, publish or enter your photographs in competitions. You might be surprised at what properties you need a release for too, so always do your research. For instance, photographing the Eiffel Tower at night is actually illegal and some sidewalks in L.A. are private property so you can’t photograph from them.

4. Is it worth paying for a local guide?

It depends on how much time you have to spare. If you have a week or two to embed yourself in a culture, then exploring under your own steam is often half the fun; if your time is limited, then a guide can be beneficial. A local guide is also great if you want to go off-the-beaten track or overcome language barriers.

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5. Is a day enough for a destination?

Only if you want to get a figurative ‘snapshot’ of a place. You’ll often find you get the most creative portfolio by returning on different days and at different times of day to capture changing moods, people and rituals. We’d advise keeping your trip as fluid as possible so you can react to the best light and weather conditions.

6. If it’s a choice between photographing at sunrise or sunset, which should I do?

While both can be beautiful, with sunrise you can get atmospheric weather conditions, such as low-lying mist too, depending on the time of year. Mix it up depending on you where the sun rises and sets on your preferred viewpoint and keep an eye on the weather forecast for the morning ahead to help you make your decision. Switch it up too so you’re not up late shooting the blue hour followed swiftly by an early summer sunrise, for instance. However, dedicated travel photographers will tell you when there’s such limited time on a trip you have to be prepared to work hard and that may mean getting up early and staying out late with little sleep in-between.

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7. If I’m travelling to an extreme climate, how can I protect my equipment?

There’s not much you can do when using your equipment, except for trying to keep it dry and dust free when changing lenses. It is a good idea, however, to leave your equipment in its bag for 15-20 minutes when you change environments to let it acclimatise slowly. Bringing a cold camera into a warm hotel causes condensation and if you move from air-conditioning into humidity your lens and filters will most likely mist up.

For more detailed advice and vital information on planning your next photography trip, pick up the latest issue of Digital SLR Photography magazine – in stores NOW, only until 8 October.

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