Sometimes we plan vacations for our kids, other times we plan vacations to enjoy as a couple and relax. So why not plan a photography vacation next time? If you absolutely love taking photos, it’s a no-brainer. But, to get the most out of your experience you need to do some planning.
6-12 Months Prior
Now’s the time to start planning. Start with the type of photography you are most enthralled with, as this will help you narrow down your location. Some people love beaches and tropical vistas; others love art and architecture. Find your place and book your flight and make sure your passport is in good working order, as well as looking into insurance for you and your gear.
1-3 Months Prior
Once you know where you’re going, you’ll want to think about which locations you’d like to visit within the destination to take photos. Knowing where you’ll go and how you’ll get there will help to plan your time as well as budgeting how much you’ll need for items like taxis, entrance fees, and other associated costs.
You can start by using Google to find interesting destinations, or head over to Flickr to find photo collections of where you’ll be visiting. Invest in a good map of the location and mark off where each spot is, this will help you visualize where you’ll be travelling – as well as helping you plan out which locations to visit on which days.
You might also want to make a list of “must see” and “want to see” – for each area, so you can make sure you get to your most desired locations, and then the second set if you have time. You may also want to plan to switch hotels partway through your trip if it puts you closer to a group of photography locations.
1-2 Weeks Prior
Now that you’re almost ready to head out the door, it’s time to put together a rough itinerary of where you’re going on each day, as well as figuring out what you’ll be packing (for the trip as well as for photography). You’ll need a good travel camera bag that’s comfortable to carry and can handle the gear you want to take. Spare memory cards and batteries are a must – you’ll also want to take only the lenses you think you’ll need – so you’re not trying to carry too much.
Make sure all of your equipment is in good working order before you leave. The last thing you want is to arrive and find your camera or lens isn’t going to come through. In a pinch, you can always rent a camera body or lens for the trip (don’t forget insurance).
Start packing! Ideally you’ll want to take any camera equipment on the plan with you to keep an eye on it, as well as a computer if you’re carrying one. Comfortable clothing and shoes are key for a long day of walking and sightseeing, as well as a good hat for sunny days! Get your paperwork in order and do a last minute re-check of your gear to make sure nothing’s missing. Check the weather a day before you leave, just in case you need to pack raingear or something else.
A few other pieces of information can come in handy for your photo-vacation: locations of camera stores, embassies (you never know), tourist offices, and sunrise/sunset (for those amazing “golden hour” shots). Also, you might want to look into internet cafes if you’re going to be gone for a while and want to back up your photos before you return.
Vacationing with kids? Then you’ll want to decide whether you’re going to a) include your kids, b) divide your time between photography/tourism, or c) set up a few days where your kids are with your spouse so you can enjoy the sites.
Time to go!
Ultimately, you’re on vacation, so try not to stress out if things aren’t going perfectly. Give yourself extra time to arrive at locations and make sure you know when they allow access (for interior locations like churches/castles/museums). Decide whether you’re going to try to visit as many places as possible (so you’ll need to set up and get photos quickly) or really take in the sites and try to get the most perfect shot possible. Take the time to be a tourist too, as well as relaxing!
When you get home pick out a few of your favorite shots and get them framed or printed on canvas – so you have a great reminder of your big adventure!