You’ve spent the last hour or so scrolling through Instagram looking at all the different travel photos on there. Some of the images are rather like yours as they’re done by amateurs – sure, they look good, but then you see the professional shots and there’s a chasm of difference.
There’s a reason their photos are so good, and it largely comes down to the equipment they have. Yes, learning how to frame shots and edit photos is critical to improving your travel photography skills. Still, you can be an awesome shooter and editor, yet still fall short of the pros if you’ve not got the right gear.
That brings us to today’s article; what should you pack when going on your next trip for amazing travel photos? There’s a list of items below that the pros will typically pack when they go traveling. You don’t necessarily need to bring everything, but it gives you a good idea as to what they bring and the equipment they find the most useful!
A photographer’s bag
First things first, you need a bag to keep all of your equipment in. There are specialist photographer’s bags out there that are well worth investing in. They have been designed with extra padding and protection to keep all of your items safe, and they will also have little sections and compartments to fit everything neatly in place. If you think you can get away with just using a common rucksack, think again. Get your hands on a photographers’ bag that you can carry on your back and walk around with as you please.
Side note: some photographers will also have a smaller shooter bag as well. This will typically only be large enough to hold the camera and a lens or two. It’s for those moments where you want to go out without carrying a big bag on your back and can afford to leave some of your equipment in the hotel. It’s optional, but just know that it could make your life more convenient depending on the situation.
You can’t go anywhere without bringing a tripod on your trip. Tripods are an essential piece of photography equipment that can be used in numerous ways. They’re perfect for setting up long landscape shots and time-lapses, but they’re also mainly great at stabilizing your shots. With a tripod, your camera remains steady at all times, meaning there’s zero motion blur on your images. Everything remains focused, ensuring you get the best photos possible.
Naturally, you will struggle to bring a proper tripod with you on your trip. Thankfully, there are loads of great tripod options designed for travel photographers. Some of them will have extendable legs that fold into a compact shape and fit into your photographer’s bag with ease. You also have the very popular Gorillapod tripods that are very small, easy to use, and great to bring on your travels.
Inside your bag, you also need to pack a couple of lenses to take on your travels. Now, opinions are split on how many lenses you need when you’re taking travel photos. Generally, a standard macro lens is recommended, but it also helps to have a zoom or superzoom lens as well. The extra zooming-in abilities of these lenses mean you can capture images from far away, which is perfect for things like safari photos or other images of the wildlife in an area. Or, if you want to take a photo of something but you’re not allowed to get too close to it, then zoom lenses are super useful.
Arming yourself with a couple of lenses means you can chop and change depending on the situation. This is where your photographers’ bag really comes in handy, letting you bring them with you wherever you go. You might start taking a photo of something with one lens and decide the other one might be better. As a result, you get the shot of your dreams.
These days, more and more travel photographers are packing drones when going away. They are such a versatile and useful photography tool that you should really get to grips with. As it shows on the DrDrone website, modern drones are so advanced that they have various flight modes, image stabilization, and 4K cameras. You can also get some that are small and compact enough to fit in your photographer’s bag, meaning you can bring them with you whenever you want.
Alternatively, a lot of travel photographers will carry their drones separately in a little case. They are still small enough to fit in your overall luggage, but carrying them separately means you can pick and choose when to take them out. The best piece of drone advice is to invest in quality and practice how to pilot it. Cheap drones do exist, but you get cheap images and videos. If you want those super crisp aerial shots, you need a high-quality drone. Practice how to fly it before you go away, so you’re a pro when it’s time to use it properly.
A card reader & spare cards
You can’t go on vacation without packing multiple SD cards for your camera. Who knows how many photos you will take, but you don’t want to end up in a situation where your card is full and you have to delete multiple images to be able to take more photos! Spare cards mean you can swap them in if necessary, eliminating this problem.
A card reader is equally essential for transporting your photos from the camera to a separate device. Most card readers can easily hook up to a laptop or smartphone, letting you access the photos on your SD card and transfer them as you please.
Of course, you must pack the essential charging equipment for your camera when you plan your trip. This will include multiple spare batteries, one of which should always be fully charged. You may need to buy multiple battery chargers as well, but it’s worth it. The idea is that you always have at least one battery on 100%, ready to swap it in if others fail.
These days, it is possible to find some battery chargers with USB connections, meaning you can theoretically hook them up to a portable power bank. As such, you can charge batteries on the go, further reducing the chances of them going out of charge.
Camera cleaning equipment
You’ll be using your camera and lenses in all sorts of places and various conditions. Therefore, your equipment is going to get dirty – there’s just no way to avoid it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, your lens always seems to get some sort of smudge on it. At the end of each day, you need to spend time cleaning all of your gear so it stays in the best possible condition.
Consequently, the travel photography pros will bring a host of cleaning equipment with them on their trips. This includes lens cloths and all the other things that are suitable for cleaning cameras.
And on that note, you’ve reached the end of this list! If you want to perfect your travel photography and make your photos look professional, you’ve got to be armed with the right equipment. Try to pack as many of these things as possible to put you in the best position to take great shots.