Good Habits of a Traveling Photographer
For me, traveling with my camera isn’t typically out of necessity but rather for exploration through my lens. That being said, maintaining a good workflow and consistent habits will keep my images and equipment safe while allowing me to fully flex my creative muscle. Throughout years of creating images on the road, I have cultivated a pretty streamlined process for myself. Since these habits, or guidelines, if you will, have allowed me to enjoy the pleasures of travel while still being productive both with client work and my own projects, I thought I would share them with you.
Backing up your work is important even if you never leave your hometown let alone when you are out on the road, so having a good backup strategy in place for when you travel is important to protecting the files that you work so hard to create.
For me, backup happens in a few different phases.
Before The Trip
Before I even step out the door, I back up anything important that will be traveling with me, that way, I were to lose my computer/hard drives, or they became damaged, I would still have a copy of all that data waiting for me at home.
During The Trip
While I am traveling, I like to keep duplicates of everything from each day. At the end of each day, I will copy the contents of my memory cards down to my external hard drive and when at all possible, I will let my photos continue to live on the memory cards until I get home that way if my laptop bag was to get lost or damaged I could simply re-import my photos and I am back in business. If you want to take your data redundancy a step further you could carry a second drive with you, copy the data to it and mail it home on your last day of travel.
After The Trip
Upon returning home from a trip, my backup routine is pretty simple, I take a backup of any drives that I saved photos or new files to and then continue my normal weekly backups.
2.) Take Good Notes
This habit is one that I need to get better at, but I have already started to be more proactive about taking notes when I am traveling and in general. The importance of taking notes is key when traveling and taking photos. Having good notes to accompany your photographs will not only help with remembering your journey and retelling the story, it will also help you organize your photos by providing you with a pool of information from which to effectively keyword your photographs. Which leads me to my next point.
3.) Keep a running list of keywords
Until my Lightroom catalog grew to tens of thousands of photos, I was pretty sloppy with key-wording my photos. At best, I was hit or miss. That is until I needed to find a specific set of photos that I knew contained certain subject matter, but couldn’t really remember when they were taken. Had I keyworded them, finding them would have been as simple doing a search using related keywords in Lightroom. Now every time I import photos I try to get at least one relevant keyword to each set of photos so that it is at least somewhat searchable, then when I start editing a set, I go back to my notes and look at the keyword list that I jotted down previously. Not only will this help with organization, but it will also help with SEO and search-ability on photo sharing sites that weight keywords.
4.) Limit What Equipment You Take
This habit really begins with good planning. Having a good idea of what you want to achieve creatively while traveling will help narrow down what you need to take with you. The benefits of limiting what gear you take is two fold: It helps keep the size and weight of your luggage to a minimum, but probably more importantly, it imposes limitations on what you can do technically and forces you to approach your craft from creative new ways in order to achieve your desired results.
5.) Don’t Forget To Stop and Smell The Roses
While your primary goal may be creating art and content on the road for whatever reason, be it for a client or for yourself, don’t forget to pull your eye out of the viewfinder and take in your surroundings with your own two eyes. You will be surprised to find how just a few minutes of just observing will change your perspective on the world around you, plus you will remember it better than seeing your entire trip through the lens.
Travel can be stressful on its own, so why not make the rest of the experience a painless as possible? Arming yourself with these few tips will not only help prevent your from pulling your hair out while on the road, but will also help you to appreciate and get more out of your experience. Traveling the world with a camera is and should be special experience. It’s not an opportunity that everyone is afforded, so if you find yourself to be one of the lucky ones, do your best to get everything you can from it with as little worry as possible.