I recently took a trip to western Pennsylvania for work. It is a beautiful area, and I wanted to get some photography in. I was able to bring along enough photography gear to get out a couple of mornings and evenings to get some great photographs. Here are some things to keep in mind while taking a non-photography trip to get the most out of your opportunity.
An Important Disclaimer
If you are traveling for business, someone is paying for you to do it. It is more than reasonable to use your non-working time to do other things, like photography, but you need to make sure it is not impinging on your primary reason for traveling. If you are not, you may find yourself traveling a lot less, and if it is really bad, you may lose a job. So use the opportunity, don’t abuse it. If you add significant costs, such as an extra day of hotel or rental car expenses, make sure you disclose it, and cover the extra expenses.
Researching the area you will be in thoroughly allows for the best use of your time. There are a number of good ways to research the area you are going, including a Google image search, or searching sites like 500px.com (are you following me there yet? I would really appreciate it if you did.) On Google, I found the Walter Dick Memorial Park, where I took this image
Using 500px, I found Freedom Falls, about 20 minutes from my hotel.
Without the searches, I would never have found the falls.
Some of the research was done during the trip, however, it is always best to have your ideas researched before hand if possible. For some more ideas check out this post on Digital Scouting, which discusses more ideas for scouting, as well as apps and other resources.
Minimize Hotel Time
I resolved a while ago to spend as little time as possible in hotel rooms, choosing instead to use the time for sight seeing, photography, and other opportunities that travel provides.
Try to avoid just going back to your hotel room. Get out as much as possible.
If you reasonably have the option, plan your flights and driving to allow for a little more time. Flying in a few hours earlier or out a little later can give you some extra time.
Be reasonable about this, and don’t cost your clients or company money or time to fit your schedule.
Traveling with gear.
One of the challenges I had is that my primary reason for traveling was business, and I had requirements to bring equipment for work, so a dedicated camera bag was not an option. I also tend to travel carry on only, which limits the gear allowance more. The following is the equipment I took, and why.
I carry a computer backpack which did not have dividers or anything for a camera, so I got a Tenba BYOB 10 (Amazon – This and following are affiliate links, you will not be charged any more, but I get a small commission for sending them business.) insert, which carries my camera, lenses, and some accessories quite well. The BYOB in a backpack is not really a good replacement for a dedicated camera bag, but it works quite well to stretch the functionality of another bag.
Camera and Lenses
I was carrying my Nikon D610, a 24mm PC-E, 60mm Macro, and 70-300 zoom. All of these fit in the BYOB, so long as the 24mm was attached.
I carry a couple filters and adapter rings (I love the Breakthrough Photography rings – Amazon Affiliate).
I use 82mm filters and a step-up ring so that I only have to carry a few filters. I had a six-stop ND, and a circular polarizer, as well as an 82mm lens cap so I can leave them mounted while moving around.
To carry the filters, I have a MindShift Filter Nest Mini (Amazon Affiliate), which will carry up to four filters. Using the step-up rings, this is all I need.
I recently got a 3-Legged Thing Travis (Amazon Affiliate) for traveling, and it fits perfectly in my roller carry-on. 3LT also makes a number of tripods that fold up even smaller, but Travis is as compact as I need, with fewer leg locks.
I use an IR remote rather than a wired cable release, since they are cheap, crazy small, and do not require anything to touch the camera or tripod. While I tend to stay with Nikon original stuff for most of my gear, the Amazon Basics remote (affiliate link) works just fine, is less expensive, and I think actually feels better.
A pile-o-cards, in ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (Amazon affiliate)
Add a couple microfiber lens cloths, and I had a pretty good traveling setup.
Business travel can be a great option to photograph in new places if you are able to do it. A little prep will go a long way in terms of getting the most out of your travels. Remember, though, that you are there primarily for business, so don’t do anything to get yourself fired.
Have any tips to share? Please leave them in the comments below.