About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

The Three ways that I Screw up when Shooting Travel Photography

The Three ways that I Screw up when Shooting Travel Photography

There are articles you see all the time on Photography blogs and websites that go something like: “5 Common Mistakes Photographers Make when…”. You’ve all seen them. I hate those pieces, as they always come off as patronising and insulting to other photographers, even though they mean well. So, instead of telling you all the things that you’re doing wrong, I’m going to tell you the stupid things that I do on a regular basis, so you can avoid my mistakes.

Charge the damn batteries

This seems like an obvious thing, right: make sure your batteries are charged? But here’s the thing. Sometimes, especially with mirrorless cameras, it’s actually easy to look at your camera and check the night before that it’s charged, and it looks charged, but it actually isn’t fully. I have been bitten by this numerous times when shooting with my Fuji X-Pro 2.

In my mind, I’ve only done a couple of shots previously with a full battery, so I think that I don’t need to re-charge it for a full days use, only to go out int the field and have it drain in no time. So if you’re planning to go out shooting a lot the following day, charge your batteries fully the night before, even if they are 90% full, or you’ve only shot a little with them. This isn't as much of an issue with a DSLR, but if you're shooting with a mirrorless camera then this is really worth doing.

Be ware of the allure of “Travelling Light”

I’m not referring to the sun suddenly moving across the sky here, no, instead I’m talking about the temptation to only bring the minimum amount of equipment that you think you’ll need. I think that part of the initial allure of mirrorless cameras is that because they are smaller, we think we can get by with less, and sometimes, its easy to think that you only need the one lens and one body, and you’ll be set. I do this on a regular basis, not just when travelling but also when shooting street photography. However, when travelling, if you haven’t brought it with you, it’s a lot harder to go back for it. Of course, there are setups which are ideal for this.

My usual travel go-to kit used to be my Nikon D700 and 28-300mm lens, as this pretty much covered everything I needed. I could shoot long, wide or anything in between. It’s a big setup, but was still only one lens, and I would get great shots with it, as I generally wouldn’t miss an opportunity.

On a recent travel shoot, I just brought my Fuji X-Pro 2 and 18-55mm lens, because I wanted to “Travel Light”. To be fair, it wasn’t an official travel photography tip, but you know yourself, as a photographer, it’s always a photography trip.

I figured that as I had a 24-70mm equivalent, I would be set as this would cover most scenarios, and I didn’t think I would need a telephoto. As soon as I got to my destination I regretted the decision. I saw lots of opportunities where a longer lens would have helped me. Of course, If I had the Fuji 18-135 that would be a better scenario, and in that case I could get away with just the one lens. But I don’t. So the moral of the story is to be sure that you take with you what you need to cover any kind of shot that you might see, as otherwise, you’ll be kicking yourself later.

If you see something, shoot something

This is another one of my bad habits that I’m always trying to break. Here’s the scenario, you may be familiar with:

You’re on your way to a location, or coming back from one. You’re in a hurry, and your camera is in your bag. You see something that looks cool, but you’re too tired (or lazy) or are in a hurry, to take your camera out so you say to yourself: “I’ll come back and get that shot later”

You probably won’t. I almost never do. Even if you do come back, the chances are what you saw will be gone. Either the light will have changed, the subject may have moved or any number of things will mean that the scene that you saw will be gone. I once read another well known photographer talking about this on a podcast, and they said that this was the reason the they never brought a camera bag with them, because once the camera goes in the bag, there are times when you’re either too tired out too lazy to take it out, and you end up missing something. If you have it out all the time, you won’t think about it, and just shoot it.

So the lesson here, which I still can’t manage to learn, is: “If you see something, shoot something”

I’m sure if I sat and thought about it some more, this list would get even longer. I’m not the most orthodox or organised when it comes to shooting, and I have picked up a lot of bad habits over the years. But still, recognising that you have a problem is the first step to a solution, right?

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this attempt at some light hearted self deprecation. Right, now back to shooting….

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All of the work I do here, and the information on this blog is done entirely free of charge and takes quite a bit of work. I want to spend more and more time on this blog, and offer more and more of this kind of information, tips and so on. All of this is funded exclusively through my Digital Download store, so If you like what I'm doing here and want to show support, then you can do so by buying something from my Digital Download Store where I have Lightroom Presets, and e-books available for download.

If you're a Fuji X-Trans shooter and Lightroom user, check out my guide to post processing X-Trans files in Lightroom. I also have a guides for processing X-Trans files in Capture One and Iridient Developer.

For Sony Alpha shooters I have a new guide with tips on how to get the best from processing your A6000 Images in Lightroom.

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