Essential Equipment for Travel Photography

For the second expert roundup on travel photography, I asked 18 friends the following question:

“Aside from cameras and lenses, what is the single piece of equipment that you always carry with you, wherever you travel?”

You can read their answers after the fold. I am sure there are some items in the list that will surprise you and that you never thought would be an indispensable complement to a travel photographer’s tools of the trade. Maybe you will consider carrying some of those on your next trip.

Stay tuned for more expert roundups coming soon.

Luca BracaliLuca Bracali has travelled to 138 countries, is the author of eight books and the winner of eight prizes in international photographic competitions. Since 2008 he is a member of APECS (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) for his contributions about the environment published in the media. In 2009 he was the only reporter to reach the geographic North Pole on skis.

“A second portable usb 3.0 hard-disk drive unit. Which is so important to backup all of my shots, RAW and JPEG, taken during an expedition or a travel reportage. It is a simple safety procedure that can really help to prevent any possible trouble.”

Luca was our guest in  TTIM 40 – Loving the Earth with Luca Bracali.

Ron CliffordRon Clifford pursues shooting landscapes and the people in them. Connecting to a global community through the art of photography. Teaching others to do the same.

“Two portable hard drives. One for the Images and my Lightroom Catalogue, one to back up the images and my Lightroom Catalogue. I don’t store my images directly on my laptop. If my laptop should fail I can plug in to any computer running a current Version of lightroom and continue working.”

Ron was our guest in  TTIM 39 – Bipolar Photography with Ron Clifford.

Shiv VermaShiv Verma, APSA, MNEC is a published author, photographer, educator and technologist. He is a member of the Panasonic Lumix Luminary Team, an X-Rite Coloratti and a Master at the Arcanum. He has been photographing for over 50 years and has evolved his photography to express his intense devotion to wildlife and nature.

“I find the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport an invaluable tool. It has a permanent place in each of my travel camera bags. To me, white balance and accurate color are of utmost importance and the ColorChecker Passport is hard to beat. It is light and well protected. Most of all it is pocketable and ready to use anywhere.”

Shiv was our guest in TTIM 17 – Shiv Verma on Education.

Paul PichuginPaul Pichugin is a Landscape & Travel photographer based in the South West of Western Australia. Paul specialises in telling outdoor, travel and adventure stories though his photography, video and 360 degree imagery.

“As strange as it sounds… ear plugs. Helps me sleep on planes, ships, noisy hotels or campgrounds.”

Paul was our guest in TTIM 19 – Let’s Be Honest with Paul Pichugin.

Robert Van KoesveldRobert van Koesveld is a full time travel and cultural photographer who set aside his long career as a psychotherapist to explored many photographic opportunities which have, in turn,  led to other activities such as publishing photo books and leading photo tours.

“My most important non camera gear is a tiny notebook and pen. Tiny:the ones I use are just 6.5cm by 10.5 cm (2.5 by 4 inches. I really like to give my subjects a context and individualise them. I find that making notes about peoples names and other part of their story is really important but can also be threatening. These the little books are the least scary. I found a bigger book, a recorder or a phone  just causes too many issues. I take spares and just add a new one if they get full. There are 20 sitting on my desk right now as I get ready to write up some picture essays.”

Robert was our guest in TTIM 28 – Japan and Bhutan with Robert van Koesveld.

Chris UptonChris Upton is a Travel & Landscape photographer from Nottinghamshire, UK. He is also a Fujifilm X-Series photographer.

“A tripod. I frequently shoot early and late in the day and for interiors when a tripod is essential. But there are other benefits to using a tripod as they slow you down, allow you to fine tune your composition and they also help when you are using ND Graduated filters. For travel I use a Gitzo GT1545T which is superb as it is extremely well made, packs small, is very light and very sturdy. I wouldn’t be without mine!”

Chris was our guest in TTIM 5 – Near and Far With Chris Upton.

Matt MorelandMatt Moreland is a Travel and Lifestyle Photographer with an unwavering love for roadtrips. He has seen 42 of the 50 US states and 7 of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada.

“A drybag. I know this isn’t the most fun piece of gear I have but I love my drybags. From holding all of my clothes and gear when I go camping to protecting my camera gear when I’m hiking in the rain. There’s nothing more helpful for reducing stress than knowing all of your belongings are safe in crazy weather conditions.”

Matt was our guest in TTIM 41 – How To Save Money with Matt Moreland.

Bethany LloydBethany Lloyd is a mountain photographer and adventurer, skiing, climbing and hiking.

“One thing I almost always carry with me to locations is some form of sketch book. As a keen painter photography for me started as a good means of capturing an image which I could then go back and work on as a sketch/painting later on. Over the years i’ve learnt that composure is an integral part of photography, just as much as it is in painting. You can frame an image so many ways and by doing a quick sketch of what you see will allow you to understand the view in a whole new way. It’s not all about the editing afterwards, getting the right composition should always come first!”

Ralph VelascoRalph Velasco Ralph Velasco is President and founder of PhotoEnrichment Adventures. He’s a travel photography instructor, experienced tour organizer and international guide, as well as the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iOS devices.

“It probably goes without saying, but without a doubt my iPhone is my most valuable piece of travel gear. Certainly for its photo, audio, video and editing capabilities, but also it allows me to keep in touch with my business when I’m on the road, which is the majority of the time (I love my T-mobile plan). I can check email, post to social media, text and otherwise communicate with my local tour operators, guides, clients and people back home. It also lets me make and confirm travel arrangements, and do countless other things. Not sure how we got by before there were smartphones and the Internet.”

Ralph was our guest in  TTIM 13 – Giving Back with Ralph Velasco.

Robin YongRobin Yong is a travel photographer from Singapore and a doctor specialising in travel medicine. He spends most of his time in Australia and Singapore, with frequent travels to Cambodia, Japan, Ethiopia, France and Italy. He particularly likes to do portraits, especially of people in their traditional costumes.

“Extra batteries…at least 3 of them…somehow with change in weather and temperature, I experienced on quite a few occasions that batteries go completely flat in a short time.”

Robin was our guest in TTIM 2 – Robin Yong and the Carnival of Venice.

Barbara WeibelWhen Barbara Weibel realized she felt like the proverbial “hole in the donut” – solid on the outside but empty on the inside – she walked away from 36 years of corporate life and set out to see the world. Nearly ten years later, she is still traveling full-time with no home base. She shares photographs and stories about the places she visits and the people she meets on her blog, Hole in the Donut Cultural Travels.

“That’s a simple answer for me, but I suspect one that will be the same for many others. I couldn’t live without my iPhone. I use it to record all my interviews, to store more than 1,000+ books that I read on the road, as an alarm clock, as a calculator, as my calendar and appointment book, as my address book, for email, for most of my social media tasks, to store photos of receipts and prepare reports for my accountant, to find my way around with a GPS mapping app, to produce all my videos, to store all my most important documents in the cloud in PDF format, to store all my passwords in an encrypted app, to write the lede paragraphs of stories immediately when I have an inspiration, to listen to music, to send text messages, to get my daily news, and of course to make phone calls. I would be lost without it and can’t imagine how I ever did it all before we had mobile phones.”

Barbara was our guest in TTIM 11 – Pursuing Your Dreams With Barbara Weibel.

Doug Kaye by Mitchell WeinstockDoug Kaye teaches photography locally in San Francisco and online, and was chosen as an Inception Master in Trey Ratcliff’s “Arcanum.” He leads street-photography workshops locally and in Cuba, which he has visited five times. Doug is the co-host of the All About the Gear podcast on the TWiP network.

“I expect I’m the exception here. Other than two cameras with non-interchangeable lenses, I try to take…nothing. Sometimes an ND filter. My perfect trip is with one camera in a pocket, an iPhone in another, no camera bag and nothing in my hands. I like to be prepared for anything, but I prefer to do that with simplicity rather than more “stuff”. I miss less than 10% of what I want to shoot because I don’t have a long lens or a tripod, but the freedom is worth it to me.”

Doug was our guest in TTIM 24 – Cuba With Doug Kaye.

Lauren BathLauren Bath is a chef turned photographer thanks to her early success on top photo sharing site Instagram. Quitting her job in early 2013, Lauren launched full force into a career in the tourism industry, effectively becoming Australia’s first professional “instagrammer”!

“The single most important equipment that I travel with, apart from my cameras and lenses, is my f-stop camera bag. I was introduced to f-stop two years ago when I had extremely bad back problems that would have eventually forced me out of photography. A friend let me wear his bag for short hike and I was hooked. I got myself the BC Tilopa and an ICU and it comes everywhere with me. I can lighten the load and take it out all day for hiking and exploring and it get’s on board planes with me as carry on. For a pro photographer I can’t recommend this bag enough for facilitating your travel photography.”

Lauren was our guest in TTIM 22 – Becoming a Professional Instagrammer with Lauren Bath.

Valérie JardinValérie Jardin is a street photographer whose work has hung in galleries in the United States and in Europe. She is a writer for dPs magazine, the host of her very own street photography weekly podcast, Hit The Streets With Valérie Jardin, and an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA.

“I recently acquired some really good Bose noise canceling headphones. WOW! What a difference it’s made in the quality of air travel! I feel much more rested, I’ve even managed to doze off while listening to relaxation music on some long flights. And I’m the person who can stay awake for 48+ hours no problem… Watching in flight movies is actually fun! If i’m traveling alone, the headphones don’t come off until we touch the ground, even if I’m not listening to anything. When I take them off, I’m always amazed at how noisy it is in the cabin. I had a cheaper version before but there is no comparison. Buy the best right away if you can, you will save money in the long run!”

Valérie was our guest in TTIM 8 – Urban Travel Photography With Valérie Jardin.

Jim ZuckermanJim Zuckerman left his medical studies in 1970 to pursue his love of photography and turn it into a career. He has taught creative photography at many universities and private schools, including UCLA and Kent State University. He also leads many international photo tours to exotic destinations such as Kenya, Namibia, Patagonia, Indonesia, China, India, Ethiopia, Iceland, Peru, Italy, and Turkey.

“Beside the camera and a variety of lenses, it is essential to have a tripod. To get sharp, no-noise pictures in low light situations, a tripod is indispensable. Photographers have a love/hate relationship with tripods because they are a pain in the neck to carry around, but for shooting at the blue hour, for interiors, for star photography, and for HDR, tripods are directly responsible for tack sharp images. And if your pictures aren’t sharp, what’s the point of shooting?”

Jim was our guest in TTIM 16 – Jim Zuckerman.

Cody DuncanCody Duncan is an internationally published travel and landscape photographer, as well as a photography guide author, enthusiastic adventurer, and hiker. Obsessed with the north, Cody travels as frequently as possible to arctic Scandinavia, with Norway’s Lofoten Islands being his favorite destination over the last decade.

“Even though I was quite late joining the smartphone club, my iPhone typically never leaves my pocket these days. Either to listen to podcasts on the hike up, keeping an eye on the weather forecast, answering emails, or a little internet browsing while waiting for light on the summit of a mountain (thanks to the good coverage here in Norway), it keeps me from getting too bored.”

Cody was our guest in TTIM 3 – Lofoten With Cody Duncan.

Viktor ElizarovViktor Elizarov is a travel, landscape photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada. For years Viktor has worked as a designer in a range of areas, but in the last decade, he made a transition to photography. He runs the popular travel photography blog, Photo Traces, where he shares his experiences as a travel photographer and also teaches the different aspects of travel photography.

“My approach to photography is very simplistic and minimalistic. I always try to bring with me as less equipment as possible. My necessities are a camera, 2 lenses (10-18mm and 16-70mm) and a tripod. But, there is one more piece of equipment which I  always carry in my bag during the travels. It is a large size Ziplock plastic bag. It allows me to weather seal not only my camera but lens as well in just seconds.”

Viktor was our guest in TTIM 35 – Finding Simplicity with Viktor Elizarov.

Deborah SandidgeDeborah Sandidge is known for her creative approach to travel photography. She is a professional photographer specializing in world travel and artistic imagery. Her passion and skill with creative techniques such as long exposure, time-lapse, and blue hour photography has earned the respect and admiration of both corporate clients and peers.

“The one piece of equipment I always travel with is a quality tripod. I take a standard tripod, and a smaller, flexible mini tripod. Both have one thing in common: Really Right Stuff ballheads. The larger tripod is fitted with the RRS BH-55, and the mini tripod is paired with the smaller RRS BH-30. The smaller tripod is unobtrusive and can set up in places that might be cumbersome for my larger tripod. Having both tripods gives me flexibility in choosing one that will work best for the shooting situation I’m in. This provides me creative options to work on ideas that involve long exposure, time-lapse, video, and a variety of other artistic techniques.”

Deborah was our guest in TTIM 18 – Being Creative with Deborah Sandidge.

What Do You Always Carry With You? 18 Expert Travel Photographers Reply
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9 thoughts on “What Do You Always Carry With You? 18 Expert Travel Photographers Reply

  • October 3, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    As far as photography equipment gores take and extra or 2 SD cards. I learned my lesson the hard way when I was taking shots and the camera was full. I can switch out cards, keep shooting and always download to a computer later that night or the next day.

  • October 3, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    What a professional and helpful collection. It’s always good to draw on the insight of people who are out there doing it! Plus these are great people to follow and learn more about the craft. Enjoyed the post so much, I think I’ll read it again.

  • October 4, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Some great tips here and a great round up of photographers. It’s great getting opinions from professionals.

  • October 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Great tips here! I totally agree about carrying a hard drive when travelling, to back up and store all the photos. But I also loved reading the other interesting suggestions, like ear plugs, tripods and dry-bags.

  • October 6, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Agreed with the comments above. This is a great article with plenty of useful tips from a group of well-rounded photographers. It gives me plenty of ideas to filter through that will certainly help with my preparedness.

  • October 6, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Hi everyone,
    I always carry around a ziplock plastic bag in case it should rain. With it on my camera, I having an instant rainy scene to shoot! It also makes for a wonderful creative filter. Fun in a bag!!

  • October 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    “the single item that is not a camera or a lens that is always in your bag”

    Woohoo – My mobile is in the pocket, not in the bag – so that is ruled out.. ;-)

    Well, I take batteries + charger as a frequent “carry with”.

  • October 6, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    As you’ve requested, the most essential to carry aside from camera and lenses are extra batteries, iPhone and a bottle or two of water.

  • October 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    The non camera equipment I took along is a Tripod and a pocket torch for night photography.


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