Are you about to travel? Would you like to be at your destination already with your camera in hand?
I understand you well!
It’s the best time to take pictures. When everything is new to our eyes the enthusiasm is great and consequently also the creativity. Travel photography is something extraordinary, it includes different genres, from landscapes to food and portraits. It’s the perfect excuse to approach other cultures, to study them through the lens of our camera.
It has often happened to me, especially at the beginning of my professional career, to run into common, avoidable mistakes. To avoid compromising the result of our travel reportage, it is necessary to take into account some important aspects. That’s why I decided to write a list of the 10 mistakes that a travel photographer shouldn’t make, the result of my personal experience, which you’ll also find in the content of my courses:
1. Traveling with too much equipment
This is certainly one of the most crucial points of the preparation for the journey. Loading your backpack with all kinds of accessories can be a serious drawback, especially if the trip requires a lot of physical effort. On the other hand, we can’t even leave without the necessary gear.
So what is the ideal equipment? As I explained in detail in a previous article, there is an essential kit for travel photography. The extras that you decide to take with you will depend on the type of photography you are going to do and how important it is for you to get a quality result.
Carrying too much weight can seriously compromise your trip!
2. Poor communication with people
We all want to take home a nice direct close-up of a person. This implies getting very close with the camera and enter the comfort zone of the subject, invade his space. A practice to be avoided without warning.
Try to communicate with people and exchange at least a few words before asking permission to photograph them, in order to avoid unexpected reactions.
3. Don’t wake up early
Travels are “unique” experiences in our existence and often last only a few days. It is a pity not to take advantage of the best light moments of the day, such as dawn for example.
Also, if you wake up early, you will be able to see the local life like in no other moments, without tourists in the frame of your photos.
4. Not respecting the cultural rules and local laws
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Every culture has its own rules and we have a duty to respect them. In the areas north of Argentina, for example, it can be difficult to photograph people, many believe that their souls are stolen. In Asia, on the contrary, always with due respect, there is a great predisposition to photography.
If you find a ban on taking pictures in a religious or public place, try not to break the warning so as not to find yourself in undesirable situations. In some countries, such as India, it is forbidden to photograph government buildings and other icons of travel photography worldwide may only be used for commercial purposes with prior permission. The same goes for people, in some countries, there is more freedom than in others.
Knowledge of these rules, cultural and administrative, is important to move with awareness during the trip.
5. Do not do enough research before and during the trip
Research is another fundamental aspect of travel photography.
Imagine arriving at your destination and realizing that the day before a festival that only repeats once every five years ended. What a shame that would be!
It’s important to plan well, depending on the type of photography you want to take, the climate and temperature, the events available, through specialized travel guides and reliable sources on the internet. Once you get there, a continuous investigation is essential, especially through the local people, sometimes not all the necessary information is available on written texts before traveling.
6. Travel without insurance
Try to think also about the safety, personal and, of the equipment. To start your travel with good insurance coverage, for example, the one offered by WorldNomads is very flexible and reliable. In addition to taking unnecessary risks in areas, you don’t know about.
Choosing a good local guide can help in this respect, knowing where and when to go you will be safer to move, without too many thoughts, focused on photography.
7. Not know your equipment
Think of an important journey, a place you probably won’t come back to visit. You can’t leave unprepared, you need to know what are the limits of your equipment to get the best result.
Knowing every function of your camera, lenses, and accessories you carry around will give you the confidence you need to express yourself creatively on the go. Take the time to study a manual or get prepared with a good course!
8. Book a touristic group tour package
Organizing a trip on your own or with a group of photographers can make the difference. Unfortunately, most agencies work in quantity, with packages already prepared. This means that you will most likely end up only visiting tourist sites and in the worst moments of light.
With all the resources available nowadays, take the liberty of choosing where to go and when to be and stay in a certain place. If you don’t like do-it-yourself, hire a local photographer or specialist guide.
9. Do not analyze the light conditions
Thinking about where and when to be in a particular place is an important detail if your intention is to get a good photograph. That’s why you need, as explained in the previous paragraph, freedom of planning and careful research before you travel.
Download Photopills, one of the best smartphone apps available on IOS and Android. Useful for photographic planning, it is the most complete on the market and I talked about it in this article.
10. Forget about composition
One of the worst mistakes for a travel photographer. A good composition is essential to make an image attractive. Make sure you know the rules that dominate this area of photography so that you can use them fluently during your trip.
If you really give importance to photography, you will ensure that you put these points into practice, without forgetting to enjoy the trip, obtaining the maximum result with the right preparation.