Travel Tips!

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feb 04 2015
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After all those years of travelling that I’ve done, I would like to share some of the experiences that I had as a travelling wildlife photographer.

Travel Tip 1)
Make your equipment look like it’s cheap and broken

As a travelling photographers your first concern is the theft of your gear. There are thieves in every part of the world, not just in the developing countries. They know how much your shiny and new camera can fetch on the black market. When travelling, I make it a point to make my equipment look inconspicuous. I cover it with duct tape, carry it in a normal, black backpack, and make sure all recognizable logos such as “Pentax” or “Hasselblad” are hidden. A nice looking pelican case is also a red flag. I prefer typical “consumer” travel packs or using older weathered bags that have seen better days.


tip 2) Keep at least two hard drives safe

When I travel with a goal or assignment, I know that the most valuable things I have are not my cameras or equipment. The most valuable thing I carry are the images I am creating. Gear can be replaced, (get it insured worldwide), but the photographs I made not.

I have a very simple formula. I travel with a macbook pro, and put the images to two different hard drives. Each drive is an exact replica of the other. I then always keep those two hard drives in different places. For example, one is in my pocket at all times and the other is left in the car or goes into the bag my partner is carrying. Or, perhaps one drive is in a piece of checked baggage being chucked in the bottom of the plane, and the other is safe with me in a carry-on bag. With this system, it is very hard for both drives to go missing.

As you photographer you know when you’ve made that cracking image that only happens “once in a lifetime”, those images are uploaded to the cloud as soon as I’ve got mobile data coverage.

Camping in the Kgalagadi

Camping in the Kgalagadi

Travel Tip 

Make notes about the area’s you visited

I always make notes about the seasons, lighting conditions, vegetation, interesting areas and general situations I’ve encountered during a trip. When you have visited South Africa 15 times, it becomes hard to keep those details clear. Having a little black book helps me to refresh those memories and getting around is easier during these follow-up trips.


Tip 4)
Hire Locals

I can’t stress enough how important it is for photographer’s to hire locals when travelling.

I realize that not everyone has months to spend when travelling getting to know people, so I always suggest involving the locals as much as you can in your work. Hire a local guide and fixer from the same area or culture as you are photographing.

Random gadgets and thoughts

Car DC to AC 220V adapter:  I always carry a DC to AC adapter to charge my laptop and batteries in the car. When you are travelling to remote areas like I do, it’s not certain that you will have power at the next stop.

Powerbank:  Flights and long walks are done better with some music from the iphone, but my iphone battery only lasts a couple hours… Plugging your phone into one of these external batteries can recharge it up to 4 times.

(Flash)lights: Being able to work in the dark is a must, especially as there is no certainty that you can flip on a light to get some light in the wilderness. So I also pack a LED head light and a torch.


A turbulent North Sea


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