Planning Your Next Photographic Trip - Digital Photography School

Planning Your Next Photographic Trip

KD 2012 1

As a travel photographer, you don’t always have the luxury of time. Therefore, you need to plan your trip in as much detail as possible to give you the best possible chance of capturing everything you need to.

1. Months Before Going

As soon as my trip is confirmed I begin to research my destination by looking on the internet for the highlights of that place. I try to find out as much as possible, for example the local customs and traditions, the food, any festivals or special events taking place while I’m there, where the markets are and so on. I also try to familiarise myself with different areas and start to pull together a shot list based on what needs to be photographed. Then I book my hotel so that I can plan my days according to where I am based in relation to where I need to shoot.

2. Weeks Before Going

By this point I would have done plenty of research and prepared a comprehensive shot list, organised into a realistic timeline of what I aim to shoot each day. The key is to be realistic and not try to fit too much into one day as inevitably you’ll stumble across somewhere that you would feel would be perfect to photograph and so you want to have sufficient time between locations.

For example on a recent trip to Istanbul I planned to shoot the Blue Mosque in the morning and then shoot Suleymaniye Mosque in the afternoon before then heading back to a roof terrace near the Blue Mosque for sunset. This ended up being a perfect schedule as I managed to stop between venues to take shots of street vendors and locals.

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3. A Couple of Weeks Before Going

With a couple of weeks to go I will spend some more time researching photographs from my destination. I look at image libraries, guide books, photo books, magazines and websites to get an idea what already exists and start to think about how I can make my shots different.

At this point I also take my camera equipment out and start to test and clean everything. If the camera is in need of a service I send it off to ensure it arrives back in good time before I leave.

4. A Few Days Before Going

I will be tweaking my shot list if necessary and starting to monitor the weather forecasts for the coming days and weeks as it might impact my schedule. I also research sunrise and sunset times, the nearest camera repair shop, local tourist office etc, in my diary so that I have everything with me when I travel. Remember, sometimes you won’t be able to get internet access so it is best to have everything written down.

5. Day Before Going

I start by packing my camera equipment first as this is the most important item. The last thing I would want is to get there only to discover I haven’t packed my spare battery or memory cards. I also have one last look at the weather forecast and make any amends to my shot list before printing out a copy of any other documents I will need.

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6. The Big Day

I ensure that I have everything finalised the day before I leave, including a taxi to the airport, travel money, insurance, charged batteries, formatted memory cards and so on. If I have time before I leave I check my camera equipment one last time to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything, but other than that I’m ready to go.

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Kav Dadfar is a travel and landscape photographer based in London, England. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising. His images are represented by 4Corners Images, Getty, Axiom Photographic and Alamy. Connect with him on his website and Facebook page.

  • Scottc

    It’s a great checklist, but you should allow some consideration for the weather as well.

  • Mario Bucolo

    Just to help travel photographers to plan the trip, we create PhotoSpotLand, how to shoot great photos in great place. The beta will be ready soon and everyone can registered Spot where to shoot photos and advice on how to do in the best way. Please registered for the beta. I also hope to establish a cooperation with DPS. Thanks

  • http://getthepictures.wordpress.com Avishai

    Thanks! Great article :)

    I have a photography trip planed for next summer and I was wandering how i should prepare. Great timing!

  • http://peaceinart.com satesh

    Thanks for the tips. I planned my trip to Naples, Florida for 1 month. Quite happy with my planning but I did not expect the crowd…

    http://flic.kr/p/dBbQoz

  • http://marius-fotografie.blogspot.com marius2die4

    Good to folow.Great list!

  • Mervyn Edwards

    In order not to forget some essential piece of photographic equipment, I make a list and store it in my computer. Then on my next trip I simply retrieve the list and use it to check off each item.

Some older comments

  • Mervyn Edwards

    December 21, 2012 08:21 pm

    In order not to forget some essential piece of photographic equipment, I make a list and store it in my computer. Then on my next trip I simply retrieve the list and use it to check off each item.

  • marius2die4

    December 17, 2012 04:57 pm

    Good to folow.Great list!

  • satesh

    December 16, 2012 05:11 am

    Thanks for the tips. I planned my trip to Naples, Florida for 1 month. Quite happy with my planning but I did not expect the crowd...

    http://flic.kr/p/dBbQoz

  • Avishai

    December 15, 2012 02:06 am

    Thanks! Great article :)

    I have a photography trip planed for next summer and I was wandering how i should prepare. Great timing!

  • Mario Bucolo

    December 14, 2012 12:04 pm

    Just to help travel photographers to plan the trip, we create PhotoSpotLand, how to shoot great photos in great place. The beta will be ready soon and everyone can registered Spot where to shoot photos and advice on how to do in the best way. Please registered for the beta. I also hope to establish a cooperation with DPS. Thanks

  • Scottc

    December 14, 2012 10:55 am

    It's a great checklist, but you should allow some consideration for the weather as well.

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