Hitting the road and realizing you left behind your favorite lens is just about as tragic as leaving behind your best windbreaker. It’s essential.
But what about all the less obvious photographers’ roadtrip necessities? How do you get started on your first photo roadtrip? And what if a monsoon hits you while taking that 3-hour-long exposure? We’ve asked some of our favorite world-traveling photographers to share what’s in their camera bag, so you won’t get stuck whittling a tripod out of a tree branch.
Read on to find out!
Besides your camera, what are your top 3 photo essentials?
I really like tripods that fold down small, some kind of bag or backpack so that all my camera stuff is organized and easy to access, and extra batteries! – @Cameron_Gardner
A lightmeter or lightmeter app. Weird dolls or halloween masks. A cooler for film or snacks. – @JoshuaCobos
I always carry my military green backpack. It is very comfortable and has lots of space for some gear and other stuff. My 50 mm walk-around lens, perfect for low-light conditions and to capture some portraits on the go. A remote shutter release, because you never know when you’re going to need it… – @Juanzero
Compact tripod with a solid mount, camera app with manual control (ProCamera 8, Camera+, or Manual for iPhone and Camera FV-5 for Android), and good editing apps. – @PatrickGWalsh
These apply for both my iPhone and larger cameras: additional or add-on lenses (my favorites are my Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 for my D800 and the wide lens from Moment for my iPhone), tripods (Gitzo for DSLR, Gorillapod for iPhone), and protective bags and cases to prevent damage on the road. – @PKetron
What are your tips for someone going on their first photo roadtrip?
Use EyeEm. The “photos around you” album is a great way to discover what’s going on. You might find some good ideas, people to meet up with and new locations to explore. – @PatrickGWalsh
What made my trip through India so great was the fact that my traveling partner was a photographer too. Let your fellow road trippers know that you’d like to stop on the side of the road at a few locations to get some shots before you leave. There’s nothing worse than seeing a great shot from a car window but driving on because you don’t want to irritate your friends. – @DiaryofZach
Be open to taking detours when you discover something awesome along your route, whether it be a neat-sounding destination or an incredible weather pattern. – @PKetron
Travel with plenty of music. I find a lot of inspiration from music for my photography. I try to make a new playlist every time I hit the road. Pairing the tunes with certain places is also a nice way to keep the memories of a trip alive besides the photos I take. – @Juanzero
You’re stuck on a desert island. What camera do you bring?
I would bring my Sears rangefinder, fully manual, no batteries required, just me and the sunny 16 rule. – @JoshuaCobos
iPhone 6 with a Goal Zero solar panel to keep it charged. Aside from documenting with still photographs and videos, I’d use it for sound recording, write down the experience in Pages, listen to music and try and make my own tunes in GarageBand. – @PatrickGWalsh
I think I’d bring my first DSLR that I don’t use anymore. It would be like reuniting with an old friend (extra batteries and extra memories included). – @Juanzero
I’d go with the Yashica T5. It’s tiny, weatherproof and it can take a beating but it’s lens is so sharp. I love that camera. – @Mattliefanderson
Definitely would have to pick a polaroid camera with tons of extra film! – @Cameron_Gardner
Have you ever had to make a photo hack on the road? Did it work?
Nothing more exciting than needing to use the hood of my car for a tripod. – @PKetron
One assignment, I needed to photograph a band in complete darkness outdoors and didn’t want to use strobes or long exposure… A Mag-Lite and reflective surfaces makes magic. – @JoshuaCobos
A hack I use to capture a perspective that is “over the edge” is to extend my tripod all the way, keeping the legs together and hold it out by its feet. I set the timer on the mobile to delay exposure while I set up a shot. I use this method to get a perspective over the edge of a canyon for instance, or to capture a view from a slightly higher vantage point. – @PatrickGWalsh
I’ve definitely done everything from stacking rocks, to use backpacks or anything else to try and keep my camera steady. There’s so many ways you can do this and they can work well, it’s all just trial and error. – @Cameron_Gardner
What’s the worst thing that ever happened to your gear on the road? May we learn from others’ mistakes.
I did drop my 50mm lens and iPhone both off a cliff on the same day last year. They were both recovered luckily. The phone was fine, but the lens not so much. – @Cameron_Gardner
I once bought a Yashica 35mm that was corroded, so I used white vinegar and q-tips to clean off the corrosion. I took it on a trip through the Southwest after a test roll went fine… It had a mind of its own. The thing would turn on by itself, would snap a 3 second exposure for no good reason, double or triple exposures were the norm. It was a blessing and a curse. Truly an unpredictable beast. – @JoshuaCobos
I was at the Salton Sea trying to change lenses when it suddenly started pouring down rain. I ran to get back in my car and in the process dropped my 24-70mm 2.8 lens in a mud puddle. I picked up my lens and then discovered 10 minutes later that I needed to fish through the puddle to find my lens cap. – @PKetron
I had a close call in Death Valley. I set up a shot on a tripod, enabled the timer on my mobile and walked away from it. A gust of wind tipped it over. No big deal, but the surface temperature of the sand in Death Valley is very hot. Fortunately, it was ok. Since then, I strap on my backpack to weigh down the tripod. – @PatrickGWalsh
I was on a solo motorcycle trip from the South to the North in Vietnam where I had been living for 18 months. I took a flight into Laos for a few weeks and back to the States with a stopover in the Ukraine. Somewhere along the lines, I must have passed through an x-ray machine that ruined more than 30 rolls of film. I was devastated. – @Mattliefanderson
We can’t wait to hit the road soon.
Header image by @mattliefanderson