I recently had lunch with a friend who is going to be traveling for at least three months around the world. She wanted some advice about what she should take with her and what she could expect along the way. She mentioned that she would also be staying in youth hostels and traveling light.
Whenever I speak with somebody about their photography I aways ask about their intentions and their end results. My friend would like to have photographs to bring home and she would like to have the option to enlarge some of her pictures to hang throughout her home or to sell after she returns. I agree with her that it’s important to have the option to enlarge photographs later.
Here’s the advice I gave her …
Select your camera now – she needs to get her camera and extra lenses now (some 3 months before she leaves) so that she will be able to practice using her camera. I suggested a used and inexpensive rangefinder camera like the Contax G1 or G2 with perhaps two lenses (a 35mm and a 90mm).
Stick with film … since her budget is relatively low, I suggested that she stay with film. While she could purchase a pro-sumer digital camera for the price of the Contax rangefinder, she would be limited by the size of the images and where she could store hundreds or thousands of images. Also most digital cameras are still very susceptable to drops and damage. There is a section in my Snap book where I talk about traveling with digital and film cameras and the pros and cons of each one.
Design a shot list … it’s great to have most trips open-ended, but since she knows the general area to be visited (Europe and the Mediterranean), it’s a good idea to have a ‘top 20′ list of those photographs that she must take before she returns.
Gather accessories … taking a camera and some film isn’t enough. She needs to take a few key accessories such as a tripod, cable release, a polarizer perhaps and a portable reflector. I would also recommend a flash. Plus having a strategy for each place will help her to maximize her photographic results.
Plan for the images … it’s important to have a system in place for how she will get the images back to her home base. She could take a chance and travel with the exposed rolls of film, but this may not be a good idea if she has to go through too many airports. It’s better to Fedex a few rolls at a time back home to spead her risk and ensure that she will have great memories.
With proper long-term planning, rehearsal, having a shot list and anticipating what to do with the rolls of film upon her return will increase her chances of getting very memorable images. These photographs will also give her a lifetime of memories.