Who doesn’t love a good road trip? You pick a destination, plan your route, pack up your stuff in the car, and hit the road. For many, the open road signifies freedom, opportunity, exploration, and adventure. As much time as you spend planning out a road trip, you never know what surprises may be out there waiting.
It’s exciting! It’s truly an iconic American experience. There will be moments and memories you plan to capture and a whole host of others you won’t want to forget.
On every traveler’s packing list is a camera. Whether that’s your phone, a simple point and shoot, or a DSLR, you want to make sure you’ve brought something to capture your experience. So, how do you make sure you’re getting the best possible photos?
What are some tips and pointers for capturing all of those memories? Here are a few quick tips that you can use to make sure you can do the best road trip photography possible.
1. Research Your Spot
Thanks to the internet and social media, you can search for any destination online and see photographs others have taken. This is a great way to see what attractions, large or small, await you. A quick search of the highway or road you’re going to take, the cities you’re going to pass through, may bring up unexpected and worthwhile stops.
Another really helpful tip is to research your destination on social media. A quick search on Instagram or Facebook will reveal all of the top spots that other photographers have found. This will be helpful to make sure you don’t miss a monument, historical landmark, or site along the way.
But, it’s also really helpful to find all of those hidden gems that only the locals or seasoned travelers might know about.
2. Plan and Pack
If you’re a photographer hitting the open road, packing your camera gear is almost as important, if not more so, to you than remembering your toothbrush. Depending on the trip, you may have enough room to bring all your gear or you might have to limit yourself.
Take note of important things like the locations you’re going to be driving through, the time of year you’ll be driving, what kind of photographs you’ll want to take, and the weather. All of these components will affect what kind of gear you will need to bring with you.
It can be easy to get carried away or get overwhelmed and not pack the right things. So, take a minute and think through what your most useful and crucial gear might be given where you are traveling. What is going to help you capture those can’t miss moments the best?
It is always better to have a few extra pieces of gear to ensure you have what you need rather than miss a moment.
A quick list of things to consider as you plan and prep:
- Will you be walking a lot at your destinations?
- Will your gear be safe at your destinations?
- What time of year is it?
- What will the weather be like where you’re going?
- Do you need any accessories (i.e. tripod, filters, reflectors)?
- What is the one camera/lens combo you can’t live without?
3. Prepare a Go-Bag
Any time you’re on a road trip it is vital to have a setup close-by and ready to go. This means a versatile lens, your camera, a fully charged battery, and your settings already set up.
You can pack up the bulk of your gear elsewhere in the car but keep your camera bag or an additional bag with all of these necessary items next to you. It will help you in a pinch. You never know when you might see a great scene out the window as a passenger or when you’ll want pull over to capture an unexpected sight or beautiful landscape.
It is helpful to keep a short list of must-have gear for your go-bag so you can quickly pack one at any time. Some of these items may include:
- Camera bag
- A tripod
- Fully charged batteries
- Camera body and lenses
- Dust cloth, air blower, or any tool you use to remove dirt and dust from your gear
- Memory cards
4. Slow Down and Expect the Unexpected
You can plan, and you can prepare. You can have a list of all of your top spots ready and marked on your route. As important as all of these tips are, being ready for the unexpected is just as important.
If you see something cool or unique, stop and take a photograph. If you pull off into a little town, take some time to walk around and keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss an interesting photo opportunity. Don’t let the excitement of heading to the next destination keep you from missing out on a great photograph.
Remember to carve out time to slow down and see the sights both with and without your camera.
5. Never forget to have fun!
Finally, never forget to have fun doing it.
Do you have any other road trip photography tips? Have you done any good road trips lately? Please share your tips and images in the comments below.