Travel Photography: This is The Gear You Need
A camera, preferably with a lens. That’s what you need! No, really, let me tell you why I’m writing this. For a while I was wandering around on the forums of DPReview.com because I wanted see what was going on in some photography communities. What are they talking about?
Ever since I bought my Pentax 645z a few years ago—Yup, I travel with a medium format camera—I have no idea what’s going on in the world of cameras. I simply don’t care at the moment because my camera works for me. The travel photography gear I own at the moment is perfect for me. Every photo in this post is taken with the same camera and lens…
Sure, DPR is a website dedicated to photography gear but photography is about making photographs, not gear. I’ve never been a photography gear head and the thing that struck me the most was a question that pops up almost every week:
I’m going to [InsertLocationHere].
What travel photography gear do I need?
And OK, getting some information on whether or not to take a certain lens you have, I get it. But people are actually asking this because they want to buy new gear since they’re planning a trip somewhere.
First of all, I think that’s crazy. I mean, I won’t stop anyone if they have money growing on trees but it’s ridiculous.
Somehow, people think they’ll need different travel photography gear to make better photos when they’re planning to go somewhere new. Or maybe they think travel photography gear is different from regular photography gear? That’s not how it works... It’s a cliche phrase by now but here it is again:
You make the photographs, not your gear.
Of course, some genres need some specialty gear but we’re talking about travel photography gear here. Being on the road, traveling and photographing along the way. You don’t need anything special for that. One camera and one lens is basically it. A back-up body if you’re doing an assignment is obvious.
What travel photography gear do you really need?
So, what gear do you need to start traveling and photographing the world? And I’m not taking about taking family snap shots during your vacation...
Do you have a camera you like? Does it give you the results you want? That’s the camera you need to set off and explore the world. Nothing more, nothing less.
What kind of photographer are you?
It’s not about the location. It’s about you. You decide what travel photography gear you need. What kind of photographer are you? If you like street photography with a 50mm, you’re not going to switch to architecture with a wide angle lens all of a sudden just because you’re going somewhere new.
I’ve noticed a lot of people asking what kind of lens they’d need in a particular city or part of the world. It really doesn’t matter. You need the lens that you like to use. Your eye is going to make photos, not the lens. It’s all about your style and what you like to work with. A destination does not decide what photography gear you have to bring.
There’s not a city or place in the world that specifically needs one type of lens. Wouldn’t photography be utterly boring if everybody does the same thing? Different photographer, different eyes, different gear. It’s that simple. Take the camera you like to use at home.
The accessories you need, that’s something else. Some extra batteries when there’s not going to be electricity or a rain cover if you’re going somewhere in rainy season.
less gear is better
One thing that’s important is the amount of stuff you take. Pack light and don’t take too much travel photography gear. I see photographers sometimes with two or three cameras hanging around their necks. All with a different lens and probably more in their backpacks. I wouldn’t be able to travel and take photos like that. I want to be comfortable at all times while carrying my travel photography gear. So, I usually just take one camera and two lenses.
Related read • Exploring Will Inspire You Not Only to Take Better Photos
When I walk around somewhere, I carry my awesome Think Tank camera bag that holds my Pentax 645z, an extra lens and that’s it. The Pentax is already a heavy beast so why carry around six lenses and three bodies? One camera is all you need.
If a scene, at some point, would ask for another lens… too bad. I’ll just have to be creative and make it work. Do something different and use a different angle.
What else fits in my bag?
Well, here’s the whole list of my travel photography gear but whenever I’m traveling and decide to go out to shoot, I just have my camera with me. No extra lenses, no flashes, no nothing.
You know, I bet if you go on a trip with several lenses and bodies, there’s only one you’re going to use 90% of the time. In the past year, I had an extra 35mm with me and I only used it a few times. Here, to shoot the sunrise over Mount Bromo for example, I would’t miss that lens at all. It was in my bag for an entire year, just weighing me down. In my opinion, it’s better to leave some travel photography gear at home than to take too much.
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So, what’s in your bag when you’re on the road?