Heading out for vacation in the next few months? Make sure you have the right gear to capture amazing photos of your kids, as well as your unique surroundings. Here are some tips to get you started:
For 1-2 day trips, you’ll want your camera, lenses, battery charger (plus adaptor, if needed), and a tripod (so you can be in the shot too!) – depending on how much room you have. Having a spare memory card, even just a small one, is a good idea – even if you never have a need to use it. A set of white and grey cards can help to set your white balance, so your colors come out pure, particularly important if you are working with sunrise, sunset, or a variety of colors in your scene.
For longer trips, you might need a bit more gear. At the end of the day you’ll want to clear out your memory card, so a laptop comes in handy. It can also help you get started with editing, or to get an idea of how your images are turning out.
You’ll find that the more gear you have to handle, the more you’ll wish for an easy way to carry it – so find something comfortable with a lot of pockets, in addition to your camera bag.
Trusting images to your laptop for longer trips is not advisable for longer trips – too much could go wrong. One corrupted hard drive, virus, or clumsy baggage handler and all your images could be lost forever. Online backup can work but is limited and depends on your access to the internet. Most serious photographers carry a portable hard drive to back up their images on longer trips so they always have two copies.
When’s the best time for travel photography? Generally, when it’s not too busy to provide a chance for you and your family to enjoy the scene for yourselves. You’ll also get great light early in the morning, or right around sunset. However, don’t let timing hold you back, it can help you become a better photographer if you have to work with different types of light.
If you have the ability to book a hotel with a great view – do it. It will give you the opportunity for some great images without having to rouse the family out of bed before dawn. You can also use Google maps to check out images other people have taken and see the exact location.
Packing Your Bag
What should you take/leave behind? It depends on where you’re going, what you’re shooting, and for how long. You want easily to be able to carry your bag (plus any kid-related gear), but you don’t want to be too minimalist. Start with your camera body and mid-range lens (24-70mm, for example). A wide angle lens would be your next choice, as it’s great for landscapes and architecture (including your kids, as long as you don’t go for a close up). Bring a telephoto lens (70-200mm, for example) if you think you’ll need it for close ups or if your kids are planning activities – but as it will be your largest, heaviest lens consider carefully. Other gear should include a lightweight tripod, UV and polarizing filter, and perhaps a remote shutter or cable release.
It sounds like a lot, but the last thing you want is to not have the right gear to take fabulous vacation photos!