In the past couple of years since we made a conscious decision to travel more, I’ve been dabbling in photography and have been loving it. Most of the photography I do is geared towards travel, but once in a while, I also try my hand at photojournalism, fashion, and creative/abstract photography.
For a while, I captured photos with just the current iPhone version I have since it was the most convenient option for me. The cameras in iPhones have definitely improved, but as my love for photography progressed, I realized I had to invest in equipment that would allow me to do more photography experimentation especially as a beginner.
I sought advice from a friend in the Philippines who has been a professional photographer for a few years and who owns a photography equipment retail business. As a rooted wanderlust, I gravitate towards items with multiple capabilities in one package. I shared that I needed something lightweight yet still high quality with similar customization capabilities as an entry-level DSLR that easily connects to my iPhone and/or iPad for quick editing and uploading. He suggested checking out a few mirrorless cameras and we landed on the Fujifilm XT-20. It has the qualities I need for a travel camera, plus I think the silver finish I chose gives it a bit more personality.
When I purchased the Fujifilm XT-20, it came as a kit with an f2.8 18-55mm lens, which I used solely for a year. Even with just one lens, it already allowed me enough flexibility to capture the types of travel photos I wanted. A year after, I then purchased f2.0 35mm and f2.0 23mm prime lenses. I chose these lenses because I wanted to push myself creatively. Having fixed focal length lenses forces me to move around and explore different angles and distances, which gave me a more intimate relationship with my subject. It made me move and think more when capturing photos. The larger aperture (f2.0 > f2.8) also gives me more flexibility with the depth of field and lighting.
I can’t emphasize enough the need for a tripod. It is great for capturing those soft-textured waterfalls, star-filled night skies, and busy streets with people zooming around. It basically makes the camera more stable to lessen the “shake” or accidental blur in photos. As with all of my travel gear, I wanted a tripod that was both lightweight and sturdy, something I could bring with me at all times, and would last a while. I opted to purchase the MeFOTO Backpacker aluminum tripod, which according to the website, weighs 2.60 pounds with a maximum load of 8.80 pounds and a maximum height of 51.60 inches. There were definitely more tripod options available, but the tripod I purchased already had the qualities I needed for a more reasonable price.
The camera kit I purchased came with a standard neck/shoulder strap, but I decided to buy a few more straps that will make it more comfortable to carry my camera around while exploring. All the straps I own are from Black Rapid. I have the Breathe editions of the Street, Wrist, and Backpack straps. The Street strap is a basic shoulder strap, but with a more comfortable shoulder pad. I use it more than the others, especially when I only need to bring my camera without my backpack or the rest of my gear. I rarely use the wrist strap because it’s difficult to multi-task when I have my camera dangling from my wrist. However, it is useful for times when I know I’ll be snapping photos quickly and constantly. The backpack strap is great for my travel photography since I almost always have my backpack on me when I go on hikes or walk around cities. By attaching my camera directly to my backpack (which comes with waist/hip straps), it lessens the load on my neck or shoulder.
Perhaps one of my most favorite purchases is my Matador Camera Base Layer. It’s a thin, yet cushiony protective covering that comes with a built-in rain cover and fits most cameras. With it and my shoulder or wrist straps, I am able to carry my camera around like a purse whenever I don’t need to bring all of my other equipment.
As for my bag, another favorite purchase is my 31L Wandrd PRVKE backpack with the Photography Bundle. The backpack itself was definitely created with the travel photographer in mind, with its water resistant material and multiple easily accessible storage compartments for both photography and other personal items. The Photography Bundle adds a rainfly, waist straps, a zippered and compartmentalized camera cube, and two accessory straps.
I currently have two memory cards (32GB and 64GB) dedicated for my camera. I also almost immediately store my photos in my 256 GB iPad Pro and Adobe Lightroom CC account. Then as soon as possible, I also save the photos into my 1TB hard drive that I bring with me when I travel. Redundancy is essential for photo storage.
Photo Editing / Uploading
As I mentioned earlier, I bring my 10″ 256GB iPad Pro when I travel because it’s lighter than a laptop with more capabilities than a smartphone. I am a fan of the Adobe Lightroom CC software for editing my photos before storing / uploading them and the iPad app has great mobile editing capabilities. With a Prime subscription, it allows me to sync my album and edits in all Lightroom platforms. I do use other iPhone and iPad apps to edit some photos that I upload on social media, but my primary editing software is Lightroom.
I currently have my Apple iPhone 7+ and it is still a great backup camera, especially with the camera updates and the convenience of having it with me at all times. I will probably upgrade my phone soon, though I’m still not sure what to get next (probably another iPhone).
There are definitely a lot more items that could be added to a travel photography kit, such as filters, but as a beginner, these items have already helped me tremendously. What gear do you bring? Do you have any other suggestions? Please share below!