Being able to share photos from your adventure travel is part of the fun in my opinion, It’s one thing to tell your friends about your trip, but being able to show them takes it to a whole new level. That being said, when creating photos while traveling or adventuring in unforgiving environments it is good to plan ahead as there are many potential roadblocks that you may not experience while photographing in more traditional situations. There are many great ways maximize your adventure travel photography experience, but I decided to narrow it down to ten that I think will put you well on your way to telling great stories.
Have Your Camera Ready
You can’t get the shot if you don’t keep your camera ready. Having your camera in a quickly accessible place, and not stashed in your backpack will help prevent you from missing that one in a million shot. I personally use a Capture Pro by Peak Design which keeps my camera mounted at my chest and releases with the press of a button, this means I always have my camera ready to go in the event that a special or exciting moment happens.
Keep In Shape
As you probably are aware, adventure travel photography has a strong focus on the adventure aspect. For that reason, being in shape is of paramount importance, especially if you plan on working with athletes in the mountains, you will not only have to keep up with them, but in many instances you will need to keep ahead of them to get the shots you want, so remember this phrase; Train hard, travel easy.
Warm Those Spare Batteries
If you’ve done any shooting out in the cold, i’m sure you have experienced a dead battery or two that you know you charged the night before. Keeping your batteries warm will help keep you shooting long into those cold days, no one wants to miss a shot because all of there batteries died. What I’ve found that works best is to keep your batteries in a pocket close to your body, Preferably a pocket on an interior layer of clothing. Another additional way to help keep your batteries warm is to add a hand warmer into the pocket where you are keeping your batteries. As you shoot, rotate your batteries out to keep rewarming them, and you will be sure to shoot longer!
Bring Only What You Need
I’ve always been bad at following this advice, and when it comes to adventure travel photography, packing light is your friend. I always seem to pack way more than I need, then never even end up using half of it. Having a solid idea of what you plan on shooting will help you get an idea of what you actually need to bring. Try to stick to bring only equipment that you know you absolutely need. If you can’t 100% come up with a reason you need something, it is probably safe to leave at home. Having a lighter load will make you much happier when you are twelve hours into a day and your energy is waning.
This is a big one! Your camera may be able to capture photos and video, but it can’t capture the exact idea you’re are trying to convey as you envision it in your mind. Jotting down some quick notes about a location, feelings, or a particular shot can help you a lot in the long run when you are trying to put your story together, whether it is a collection of photos, or even a video.
Take More Photos Than You Think You Need
We live in the digital age! This means that if you want a particular photo from multiple angles, go for it! That way you have options when you get to the editing room. Though I think it is a good idea to shoot many angles of an image, keep in mind that the more photos you have, the more time you will spend culling through images.
Play With Composition
Composition is your most powerful tool for telling your story and should be used accordingly. A great place to start is by working with the rule of thirds. By using this rule, you will be able to create stronger compositions that emphasize the subject of the shot. For those unfamiliar with the rule of thirds, it is where you divide your scene into thirds both on the vertical and horizontal, then use the intersections created to position your subject. More on rule of thirds can be found here.
Research Your Destination, Extensively
Adventure travel photography is about the journey and the destination. The more time you put in researching your intended destination, the better off you will be, and your photos will definitely reflect it. Most locations change throughout the year, so getting yourself ahead of the curve and planning for any seasonal changes that may affect your shooting plans will help you avoid wasting time, In addition you will also be able to plan shots ahead of time which will certainly streamline the process of shooting on the move. I like to do a combination of Googling my destination, and checking out what others have done in a particular location on an app called “Stuck On Earth” which over lays geotagged photos onto a map.
Scout The Location
Once you have arrived at your destination and you have a few locations or objectives picked out, take some time if it is a reasonable undertaking and scout out the location. Take notes on lighting in regard to time of day, and how it might change throughout the day. Note any obstacles that might hinder your ability to get the shot you need so that you can plan accordingly. Take some sample images with a cellphone or other camera to use as a planning aid for your shots.
Include People whenever Possible
Having people in your shot not only adds interest and a focal point to your scene, but they also help to add a sense of scale to your image as well. Sometimes with landscape photos, it is hard to really get a sense of how big a feature really is, but if you have a human element, it adds a familiar frame of reference in which to judge scale.
Get out there and refine your adventure travel photography!
I hope that these tips will help you improve your adventure travel photography game, or at the very least, become more conscious of your process and approach. As I mentioned before, Planning is a big part of this process, and not to be taken lightly, so with that in mind, start putting pen to paper and planning your next adventure shoot. As always, if there is any thing you have of value to add to this, feel free to discuss it with us in the comments, we love to talk shop!