photography mistakes maledive skipper
Don't let a full memory card get in the way of shooting this photograph on your next big trip! Photo © Stuart Schwartz.

Avoid These 6 Common Photography Mistakes on Your Big Trip

You’ve only got one shot at photographing the trip of a lifetime. Here are six good ways to blow it.

Here at The Image Flow our clients often bring in photos to print that were made during amazing trips to every continent. Many of the images we see are world-class and require very little adjustment before an excellent print can be made. But an unfortunate percentage of camera work was not completely successful, and the finished product is limited by one or more technical mistakes made by the photographer in the field.

No matter where your journeys may take you, a similar set of pitfalls can plague any photographer wherever she or he may go.

After many years spent reviewing results from far-flung photographic expeditions, we’ve come up with a list of the most common mistakes made by photographers shooting in the field. Here are six of the most common ways to blow it during your next big photo trip:

  1. Don’t bring enough gear. If you listen to the travel experts, packing light is a must, but on a photography trip packing too light may leave you without a long enough lens to reach out to the subjects you hope to capture, or leave you up a creek when the one camera you’ve brought along decides to stop working. The correct camera kit for your trip is just the right size, and you’ll need to think critically about what to bring along and what to leave behind before you go.
  1. Overdo it physically. Speaking of traveling light, a quick way to end a promising trip is to injure oneself while carrying gear. If you are planning to spend a lot of time on your feet with your camera gear, even a minor injury could force a change of plans. A 25-pound camera bag doesn’t sound so heavy until you try to lift it with a separated shoulder!
  1. Drop your camera. Gravity is always doing what it can to smash your camera gear into the ground. Why give it a helping hand? Using a camera without a strap means you won’t have a second chance when fate comes to call.
  1. Don’t do your homework. If you’ve never photographed a lumbering elephant herd or a lone cheetah running at freeway speeds, your once-in-a-lifetime trip is not the time to start. No matter the subject, you are unlikely to make many great photos the first time out. Traveling back to Namibia or another far-flung location for a reshoot may not be in the cards, so make sure you get your great shots the first time out.
  1. Shoot on automatic. Cameras have never been more sophisticated or better able to guess at the subjects you intend to capture, but auto exposure will only take you so far. Dynamic situations tend to provide amazing images only to those photographers who are well prepared to take advantage of the decisive moment.
  1. Run out of flash cards. Flash memory has never been more affordable, so only the unprepared are likely to run out. Switching to JPEG, deleting in camera, begging your traveling companions for a loaner, or paying extortionist rates for cards in-country are all easily avoided by spending a few extra dollars before you light out for the Territory.

Interested in learning how to avoid these mistakes? We’ll address these common issues and more in our upcoming workshop, Photographing the Trip of a Lifetime with Anthony Fendler starting May 5.

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