You have decided to embark on a new adventure and joined a photography workshop or tour. There are several preparations you can make in advance to make the most of it and maximize your experience. We compiled a list of suggestions for you. Read them carefully and try to apply them on your next journey.
- Know your camera – Knowing how to operate your camera, mastering its settings, getting familiar with menus, histogram, focusing and shooting modes can save you precious time while on location. Having done that, you can concentrate on learning new skills and capture more images. It would be misfortunate if you missed a rare sunset or a posing animal in the wild just because your camera is set to the wrong mode.
- What camera gear to bring – Contact your photography workshop/tour leader and ask what to bring along. It sounds obvious but your workshop leader is experienced and may have some good ideas about things you haven't thought of yourself. A basic setup would include a camera, lenses, protecting filters, tripod, and a comfortable bag to carry your gear around. As a general rule of thumb, bring along as much as you can. A wide selection of lenses can result in shooting a wider range of subjects. Don't forget to check that ALL your gear is in good working order.
- Essential accessories – While packing your bag, it is important that you make sure you haven't forgotten any crucial accessories. Battery charger, card reader, cable release, filters, sensor cleaning kit, cleaning cloth, spare batteries, extra memory cards, can all contribute to a successful journey. You wouldn't want to find out you ran out of memory cards/storage or a battery failure in the middle of a trip. If you plan to bring along a laptop, make sure it has installed all software needed to upload, process and display your images (including cables).
- Clothing and field equipment – Appropriate clothing for field conditions is most important. Waterproofs for wet weather conditions can save your day. Boots can keep your feet dry while shooting on a beach especially during tides. Flashlight can be of great help when shooting pre dawn or after dark. Some areas are very cold at night especially in deserts and seascapes with strong winds. Good gloves that keep your fingers warm and at the same time allow you to operate you camera smoothly can make all the difference. Bug spray, umbrella and sunscreen are always welcome on your bag. Consult you workshop/tour leader about proper clothing for your destination as s/he knows them best.
- Learn about your destination – Explore locations to be visited, read about their history, nature and climate. Look at magazines and online website galleries to get inspired and open your mind to new ideas. The internet can be an extremely useful tool for this task. Many photographers share online technical aspects and tips about photos they have taken near or around your destination.
- Prepare yourself – Make sure you are physically prepared for your journey. Many photography workshops have very busy schedule, spending long hours in the field, sometimes from sunrise to sunset. Other photography tours spend many hours traveling between shooting locations and may become a stressful and exhausting experience at the same time. Long evening photo critique sessions and early wakeups often result in less than normal sleeping time. Get plenty of rest before you start.
- Set your goals – Take the time to think what you want to accomplish, which questions you'd like to ask, what you'd like to learn and get better at. Making a list of these key points will help you make the most of this adventure. Many participants bring along a set of photos for evening critique sessions. You may consider doing so as well.
- Last but not least – Insure yourself and optionally your gear. Traveling in the field is quite different than shooting in your back yard. Sometimes you'll find yourself traveling to foreign countries far away from home. We all want to depart on a thrilling adventure but not least important, return home safely.