Photographer’s Vacation Packing List

Planning which photos you are going to take on a vacation can take almost as much time as planning your itinerary, but if you do it right, you will make things so much easier on yourself once you arrive -- and you'll be sure the pictures you take won't end up in a shoebox in the closet or unopened files on your computer.

From our 2010 Germany Photo Adventure
From our Germany Photo Adventure

One month before you go...

Check your equipment: Make sure you have new batteries (don't only bring one!), check your memory card supply, make sure your sensor has been cleaned, and determine which specific lenses, tripod, filters, etc you will need for the types of photos you plan to take.

Develop a Photo Game Plan: What will you be doing with your photos after the trip ends? Hanging them on the wall? Uploading to a website? Designing a photo album? For example, if you plan to create an album, you will want the photos to tell a story. If you're using the photos for a blog post or in conjunction with writing, you'll need to know a general outline of what you plan to write about and how you want the photos to correlate.

Create a Photo Itinerary: This will probably correspond a great deal with your regular sightseeing itinerary, but it helps to prioritize your list into necessity (I gotta see it), maybe (If there’s time), and back up.

Hearst Castle from a previous San Simeon Photo Adventure
Hearst Castle from a previous San Simeon Photo Adventure

During the Trip....

Back Up As You Go: If you plan on taking hundreds 0r thousands of photos while you're traveling, you should have a back-up strategy on hand to ensure you won't lose any photos, but also to start processing the photos as you go along so that you won't have so much work to do when you get back home. Alternatively, if you don't want to bring a computer along, at least bring several different memory cards so that if something happens to one of the cards, only part of your photo collection will be affected.

Stay Aware: Camera equipment is expensive, which makes it an excellent target for theft. Keep camera equipment near you at all times, and consider using a camera bag that doesn't necessarily look like a camera bag. Try to carry the smallest possible camera bag during the day with only the equipment you will need for that day.

Battery Charging: A good rule of thumb is to bring the amount of batteries you would normally bring on a daytime excursion PLUS one more. Also, if you bring enough  batteries, you can leave one or two behind during the day charging in your hotel room. Make sure you are prepared with the proper adapter and converter for whichever country you're visiting.

Group shot from our Eastern Sierras Photo Adventure
Group shot from our Eastern Sierras Photo Adventure

After the trip....

Storing photos: Organizing photos on your computer in a way that you can easily find and access them five or ten years into the future (this includes backing them up efficiently). This is also when you can finally delete any photos you don't want to keep (don't delete them on your camera during the trip!) Mark teaches an excellent class about organizing photos that covers everything from importing them into your computer to printing and sharing them with friends and family.

Editing photos: You have several choices for editing software: Picasa, Lightroom, Photoshop... whichever software you choose, make sure you are familiar enough with the program so that you don't get halfway through editing 500 photos and realize you've been doing something incorrectly the whole time. (Lightroom and Photoshop classes starting up again in the summer, just saying!)

Printing/Sharing Photos: Now your photos are ready to show off! Decide if you want to have them printed professionally, or if you want to invest in a professional-grade printer like the Canon M100 to do it yourself at home. If you want to print everything in an album altogether, it's easiest to bring your photos on a thumb drive into a print lab (like Paul's Photo) and use the in-store kiosk to design the layout of your album.

If you are posting photos online, make sure the image size and output sharpening are correct -- if the file size is too large and you are posting to a personal blog or website, the photos could slow down the loading time of the entire site.


Check out Creative Photo Academy for classes & workshops to help you prepare for your next big trip... or call us at 310-375-7014:

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