Travel Photography – Why Packing Less Means Achieving More

Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
  By Jonathan Ma
Travel Photography – Why Packing Less Means Achieving More

Travel photographers always have tough decisions to make regarding how much to bring on a trip. Because photography equipment can both take an up a lot of physical space and weigh a substantial amount, bringing too much equipment can actually hinder a photographer from being able to pack other essentials. In this article, we will discuss why the principle of packing as light as possible in order to achieve your purpose is better than over-packing when it comes to travel photography equipment.

Let’s be honest – how many of you have brought a DSLR plus multiple heavy lenses on a hiking trip before and regretted it? Maybe you didn’t even end up using the DSLR or swapping out the lenses because of how bulky and cumbersome it was. Or maybe you were traveling through a new town with a DSLR and wanted to do some street photography, but ended up not taking any photos because the large DSLR would have attracted too much attention. These are common scenarios which illustrate that it is possible that having too much equipment can limit your opportunities for photography – especially when you are on travel.

Thinking Ahead and Planning Ahead

To be able to figure out what equipment you should pack for an upcoming trip, you will need to anticipate the type of shots that you want to be able to take. For example, will you be visiting an area with lots of beautiful landscapes such as waterfalls, mountains, and beaches? If so, a wide-angle lens would be necessary to capture those scenes. Are you looking to do some street photography, maybe even close-ups of street vendors without attracting too much attention? In that case, a long telephoto lens would be able to do the job. Do you anticipate a lot of hiking or walking on foot? If you do, it is probably best to go as light as possible in order to prevent fatigue.

Thinking ahead also means thinking about how safe the areas that you will be traveling in will be. In some areas of the world, walking around with a large DSLR or even a camera bag means you are walking bait, just waiting for a theft or mugging to happen. When traveling to such countries, it is best to carry as small of a camera as possible and to strap your camera bag securely to your body.

Travel Photography in Action

When considering the principles and questions listed above, you may find that a small point-and-shoot will cover all of your bases when traveling. This is okay! As photographers, we sometimes develop a strong attachment to our DSLRs. But it doesn’t mean that it is wise or even practical to lug our heavy DSLRs everywhere. And even if you still want some manual controls on your camera, some point-and-shoot cameras come with manual controls. For example, the Canon S120 has a control ring around the lens to let you adjust the settings while shooting. It even has Av (Aperture Priority) and Tv (Shutter Speed Priority) shooting modes for those of us who are used to DSLR shooting modes. At the lens’ widest setting of 24mm (35mm equivalent), the aperture can open up all the way to f/1.8. This enables the camera to take in quite a bit of light, which makes it possible to even do some night photography with this small point-and-shoot camera.

As you travel around with a small point-and-shoot or other small cameras, you’ll find that the size of the camera can make a big difference in deciding whether or not you decide to bring it along for the day. Ultimately, you can’t take photos with a camera that you don’t bring! This means that it is better to bring along the smallest size camera that will get the job done when you are traveling because that increases the chances that you will actually bring the camera along as you take on the world. Even if it means bringing along just one less lens, packing light will mean you have more energy and opportunities to take photos instead of wasting time and energy on unnecessary equipment. Next time you pack for a trip, ask yourself if you really need that piece of equipment!


Happy shooting!

Rating: 5.00 based on 2 Ratings
The following two tabs change content below.

Jonathan Ma

Jonathan Ma is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. The natural beauty that surrounds this area has helped him to learn to appreciate art and photography. Jonathan's favorite styles of photography are nature and sports photography. He enjoys learning and teaching others what he knows.

Comments (1)

  1. Alex AINA Guest

    Hi Jonathan, I totaly agree with you.
    After 28 years on (d)slr I’ve switched to µ4/3 system: now for the same quality of pictures my equipment is less than half the weight and the volume!
    µ4/3 is very versatile and the several cameras and lenses I own allow me to choose alternatively a very light and tiny GM5 + 12-32 mm, or for wider range an EP5 + 9-18 + 14-150 mm, or for higher quality an EM10 + luminous prime lenses, or even an EM1 + handheld + pro zooms for professional works… and all the various combinations we can mix. This modularity added to the awesome quality is the reason why I choose this system in particular!
    Now I always hold a tiny camera in my pocket or my everyday bag, wich wasn’t easily the case with my old dslr…
    So I recommend such a system more than a simple point & shoot camera for all those who don’t want to sacrify a lot of image quality, even if the 1″ ones will also be a good alternative when they’ll become cheaper!