Tip for A Tuesday | Traveling for Photography

Ever since I photographed a wedding on the beautiful Hawaii islands in 2012, the itch to be a destination wedding photographer has been prevalent. I always told myself it would happen eventually, and now five years later I am getting these amazing opportunities and I just want someone to pinch me!

In September I traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Kady and Tyler’s wedding day (see their beautiful wedding day here). The day after their wedding I caught a flight to Aruba to photograph Bruce and Lena’s wedding day (& see their amazing wedding day here)! Then shortly after returning home, I traveled to Florida to capture Angela & Scott’s wedding day (see that fabulous day here) and next summer I will fly to Ireland to photograph another destination wedding! I feel so honored, blessed, and amazed that this really is my job.

Now this blog post wasn’t supposed to be about all my travels but more on how to help a photographer pack and prepare for international travel for your business! I searched for blogs on this topic and had a really hard time finding anything or getting any other photographer to respond with help. Thankfully Jessica, with Jessica Simonton Photography, was gracious enough to share a few of her tips from her Mexico traveling earlier in the summer which really helped ease my nerves. But after traveling a lot this summer, I thought I would try my hand at writing something that might be helpful to someone else who travels a lot with their photography business.

Here are my five best tips for traveling for a photography job!

  1. Purchase a carry-on size camera bag

Without my cameras I cannot do my job, so purchasing something safe, reliable, and the right size was super important to me when thinking about travel. I wanted the bag to be carry-on size so I could always have my cameras and equipment on me whenever traveling. I purchased this bag, the Think Tank International 2.0 and have really loved it. It has two TSA approved locks help me feel secure, especially when sleeping in the New York airport on a short overnight trip. I was able to lock the bag to the chair I was sleeping in! It also is padded and has removable centers to make sure I can customize the inside of the bag to my exact needs. It also has plastic pockets inside for a lot of my extra equipment – including a copy of my insurance! The outside of the bag also came in handy with its top, almost hidden zipper that perfectly fit my wallet/passport holder! It also had a slide in pocket for easy access to all my printed documents! Overall it was one of the best investments I have ever made for my equipment.

2. Print your important documents

I am all about having my boarding passes and information on my phone! That easy access is so crucial to me. BUT when I checked in for my first flight the lady at the desk was having a really hard time finding my reservation and my passport information. She asked if I had printed documents and when I presented them to her, she told me had I not printed those off, I may not be boarding the plane.  I printed all my flight information for every flight, my hotel confirmations, the resort information (especially helpful when my taxi driver spoke little English), and I copied my Visa and credit cards. I kept my flight info, hotel/resort info in a manila envelope in the front of my Think Tank for easy access, but I kept my copied personal identification locked up safe inside the bag just in case! I copied those just in case my wallet/passport went missing at any point in the trip. That way I had the card numbers handy along with the phone numbers of the US Embassy and Credit Card Companies!

3. Pack Lightly

This is what I did terribly wrong on this trip!! I was going to be gone for 10 days, so I packed 10 days worth of outfits, a handful of workout outfits, and two nice outfits for the actual wedding days. While it made sense to have an outfit for every day I was going to be gone, I really only needed my nice outfits, travel outfits, workout outfits and one or two other outfits for the whole 10 days! While in Cabo and Aruba, when I wasn’t physically photographing something for work I was laying by the beach, walking on the beach, or elsewhere doing basically nothing. I brought a few more practical outfits that I rotated and which worked just fine! I wore my swimsuit most of the time anyways! So next time I am packing a whole lot lighter!

Also, I packed too many things in my “personal item” bag for the plane. My shoulders need a serious massage because the amount of strain I put on them with that backpack. I only needed my laptop, chargers, hard drive, and water bottle. I didn’t need to bring a bazillion snacks, books, ipad, etc. Sometimes being over prepared ends up hurting you….and for me physically! I couldn’t wait to dump that backpack every second I could get!

4. Pack some Pens

When you travel internationally you have to fill out custom forms to get into the other countries. You have to use blue or black ink and unless you’re sitting first class, by the time the flight attendants reach you they are all out of pens. I am really friendly, so I don’t mind asking people to borrow their pens, but on my way into Aruba, no one surrounding me had a pen to spare either. There was a great deal of us who couldn’t fill out the form until we landed, which is fine, but isn’t a great time saver!

5. Protect you Product

Once the event has been photographed, your sole job is to make sure nothing happens to those memories. Make sure to have a backup system in place already and use it immediately after the wedding! I upload to my physical hard drive I have with me (I use the LaCie Rugged Raid to travel with) and to my Dropbox/Cloud storage, plus I bring two separate SD card cases and separate the cards into the two cases. My Nikon 750s have two SD card slots and I let the back slot backup my first slot. That way I have the images saved on two cards at all times. I then put one card in SD card case #1 and the backup SD card in the other. I put one in my locked travel bag and one in the hotel safe until I leave the hotel. Once I leave the hotel the SD case stays on me the whole entire time! Protecting their memories is one of the most important part of traveling. As negative as it sounds, play the devils advocate – “If my camera bag was stolen, would their memories be safe somewhere”? “If I lost my SD card case, would I still have the images somewhere”? It never hurts to be extra careful!

Hopefully this eases somebody’s worries about traveling abroad, or even out-of-state for a photography gig! It is so much fun to experience new places doing what you love. Enjoy your time and know I am cheering you on the whole time!!



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