Screwing things up in places you go for the first time is easy. But luckily, maximizing your chances to make sure you get the most out of your trip is also easy. Here are some tips I learned after years of shooting landscapes and traveling.
1. Be sure to pack all the gear you need
- Charge your batteries and take at least 2 of them;
- Take your chargers with you, especially if you’re shooting in the cold!
- To the most forgetful of us (including me), double check for your camera(s), lenses and tripod(s)!
- I’m writing these lines 24 hours before going to Rome. I decided to take 2 small tripods instead of my big bulky monster. This trip should remain fun and it’s easier to keep it that way with a lighter backpack;
- SD CARDS. Take A LOT of them! Card failures always happen to others until it’s your turn. Plus, they’re easy to loose;
- If you’re impatient like me, take your computer, its charger and a SD card reader to process your images once you get back to the hotel.
2. Carefully scout each of your shooting spots
Picturing your photos in your head before actually shooting them is extremely helpful. For that, you need to scout the places on Google Maps and Google Street View. For instance, I pinned the exact shooting spots for my trip to Rome on Google Maps and figured exactly what my compositions will be. That way I can:
- Enjoy doing tourist stuff for a longer time;
- Know exactly where I have to go;
- Setup my tripod, start shooting ASAP and not miss any moment of sunsets and sunrises;
- Be stress free. I don’t often add new photos to my portfolio since I value quality over quantity. So I’d better do everything in my power to not mess up.
3. Make sure your subjects don’t have construction work around it
I learned this the hard way. When I was in London last year, I planned to shoot the Big Ben only to notice it was being renovated when I arrived. For the record, I woke up at 4 AM because I couldn’t sleep anymore in this awful dormitory where a guy tried to climb in MY bed… After that, I waited like 2 hours in the cold for coffee shops to open like an idiot because I had nothing else to do.
To check for construction work in popular spots, I just hit Instagram and see recent images that people are posting.
Being a photographer in 2019 is extremely convenient, right?
4. Take a look at weather forecasts
If you are creative enough, you can shoot in any condition, even if having a sunny day with some clouds in the sky make most landscape photographers happier. That said, you probably book your flights way ahead of time. So forecasting is impossible. But remember, even if the day don’t look promising, get out of the hotel and go shoot anyway. Things can change quickly.
A year ago, in Vernazza, I was extremely disappointed by the weather. I was going to stay in the apartment I rented to take a nap (because bad luck again, I got a cold), but when I looked outside, I noticed that the sky cleared up a little bit. No need to say that I started running to my spot as fast as I could! Never give up.
5. If you have a DJI drone, make sure it’s up to date
If you’re planning to fly your drone, it’d be a shame if you miss the light because your drone have to perform updates before taking off. It already happened to me and it’s not pleasant at all. So while you’re still at home, take a few minutes to update your drone and your remote.
Landscape photography is a lot about planning. Do it right, and you won’t have to rely on pure luck. This is the difference between pros and amateurs. (Well actually, being a pro means that you earn money from your photos, but you got me.)