Tips for keen photographers when travelling abroad

For most people who travel abroad on a trip, especially if it is a new destination, one of the most important aspects of the trip will be to bring home a load of good photos to show where you have been as a reminder of the trip.  Good photos and a few souvenirs will be all that is left after you go home.  If you choose a photography tour or workshop then the emphasis will be on the photos you take and someone will advise you on what to take and the trip will be pre-defined and organised. 

Before leaving home research your destination thoroughly.  Consult the internet and find a good guide book.  Take a look at Google Images and see what inspires you.  Once you arrive in the country it is a good idea to already have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to see. 

Check out the best times of the day to be places.  Then there is getting around.  Taking local transport can make for some interesting discoveries and a chance to communicate with local people and see local life.  Back of motorbikes, rickshaws, tricycle ,bicycle, bullock carts, local buses, trains, trams and tubes, boats and ferries can all offer unforgettable experiences and outstanding photo opportunites.

It is important to be comfortable and wear the right type of clothes.  In tropical countries light and loose coloured clothes are a good idea. Pack long pants, wearing shorts can be badly interpreted in certain countries especially worn by women.  Women remember to bring a scarf and keep a sarong handy for entry into many holy places if applicable.   Remember to bring something that covers your head as well as your body if it rains.  You can’t hold an umbrella and take pictures! Comfortable footwear with good soles is extremely important.  You always walk more than you think you will. 

Think about those pictures that you will want to take and what equipment you have.  If your camera has interchangeable lenses then ideally you need a wide angle and a longer focal for portraits and distances.  For convenience most people use zooms.  For a 35mm camera a 28-105 is a good every day zoom although you will be a bit short lensed for distances.  This translates to approximately an 18-70 on a mirrorless or compact camera.  Most long zoom lenses are 70-210 for a 35mm camera.  On smaller mirrorless cameras this equates to roughly 50-140mm. 

Remember to bring enough memory cards.  Bringing a computer and a hard disc allows you to download and visualise your pictures as you go.  Batteries and a charger are important too.  If you can bring a tripod or a monopod then do so. For those long exposures at dawn, dusk and at night you will not get the same results by handholding your camera as you will by setting it on a tripod, especially if you want to use a longer focal length.  The pictures will be blurred. 

Take care of your camera and lenses.  Sand, dust and rain can cause damage.  Protect it in a case and put the case in a sealed plastic bag whilst not taking pictures.  For rain, a hood to put over the camera can be bought quite cheaply or you can even be made witha plastic bag and a bit of tape, most cameras do not like rain.  A backpack camera bag is a great idea and you can usually stick your wallet and passport in there too.

Whilst taking pictures of people, smile and ask if possible.  I have to admit that sometimes when I'm using my mirrorless camera I don't put it up to my eye but look at the back.  It isn't being deceitful, it's just sometimes you see something and have to be quick or the moment is lost.

Even in poor weather conditions you can take great pictures.  You can take moody black and whites and use raindrops and umbrellas.  Even in bad weather photos taken at dusk can be lovely.  Prepare for your trip, be comfortableand try and take photos that you will want to keep,  Ifh you don't manage and regret it then take a properly orgainsed Photo Tour or workshop and from then on it will be easy