How to Plan Photography Trips

I try to travel as much as I can. I love exploring places and making images of said places. There's a lot of planning that goes into travel these days, we need to be up to date with a lot of things. With that said I want to share how I plan photography trips. Photographs inspire us! We see a beautiful image in a kitchen magazine and we want our kitchen to look that way. I recently got married and my beautiful wife spent hours in wedding magazines and pinterest clipping out things she wanted for our wedding. Well this basically is how I figure out where I want to travel.

Usually the first thing that gets me to a place is seeing an image of a location. I see an image of lets say, a mountain range, I say to myself, I want to go there! Little else is a determining factor. Of all the images I see that inspire me, I make a list of all those places. My list is rather long and I will be very surprised if I ever get to all of them, but nonetheless I write them down. From there I start planning my photography trips.

First thing to look at is weather and season. Some parks and places are closed in the winter, and are impassable. Some have a great spring, and the rest of the year is a bit dull. As an example, the smoky mountains are on my list, but I probably won't visit unless it's in the fall. Mt. Rainer is great, but to get the wildflowers you have to go in summer. You get the idea. To get the most out of your photography trips, the time of year is one of, if not the most important factor.

Second, I look at the images that inspired me in the first place. Where, when, and how the image made. I look for other images of the same location using flickr, google, or an app made by travel photographer Trey Ratcliff called "stuck on earth". You can find his app by clicking here. This step helps me plan my "attack" if you will. What looks good in what light. If its a clear day, I want to go here. If it's cloudy I will go here, sunrise, sunset, and so on and so forth. I plan this stuff out knowing I must be as flexible as possible. One thing you can't really plan on is mother nature. I compile a list of images I want to make and when I want to make them. I then work with mother nature, on a day by day basis,  to get those shots.

Then comes my actual trip. Which airport to fly into? How far do I have to drive to get to the location? Campsite, hotel, or sleep in the rental car? Are there stores nearby I can buy food, or do I need to pack it? What apparel do I need to pack? Bear spray, chains for the vehicle tires. Camera stuff. It's very beneficial to make a checklist of all the needed items. It's nearly impossible to remember everything you need, so a checklist is highly recommended. It's never fun forgetting an important element, which could be the difference between success or failure when trying to reach your goal for the trip. It's also important to decide how much are you willing to put up with. If you stay at a certain campsite or hotel, it might be a hour to get to the trailhead, and an hour hike into the wilderness. Maybe you want to backcountry camp. You will need a backcountry permit. Both have pros and cons, but must be taken into consideration when planning your trip.

I also recommend using some of the rewards membership programs. Airline miles, hotel points, rental car points, and other perks. Even a punch card at your favorite food chain is helpful. Most often these are free and easy to set up and in the end, they can have some pretty significant benefits which will reduce the cost of travel.

One last thing I strongly recommend is that you keep your most important photo gear with you at all times. I travel with my photo backpack and my tripod. My clothes and misc. items get checked. My backpack will fit under the seat in front of me on the smaller planes, its tight but it fits, and I put my pack overhead on the bigger planes. I am never more than an arms length away from my photo gear. This assures me that nothing should get lost, stolen, or damaged.

I hope this article provides some resources and tips when planning your next photography trip. If you have some that I missed, share them in the comments below!