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Planning a photographic trip

Australia on the road.

Prepare a photographic trip

– Planning and research for a photographic trip 

[  Photos & text by Lorenz Berna  ]

Before embarking on a journey where you want to devote your time and energy to Travel Photography, it is always a good idea to do some home work. Doing research and planning ahead will surely create the best photographic conditions.

All this article is about helping you to make things simpler once on location, as well as enriching your experience by understanding better the place you will go to. That is to say, get to know the geography and nature, the people, the culture, the traditions and habits, the way of living and thinking of the country you will visit.

“Failing to plan is like planning to fail”, Stephen McCraine.

Old tibetan woman lighting candles for Losar, the Tibetan New Year - A Lorenz Berna Travel PHotography of Nepal

Research is the key to make good pictures

Most of us are fascinated mostly by a couple of aspects of the country that we chose to visit while remaining ignorants of so many other interesting points. That’s why is so important to plan ahead. Professional travel photographers spend a lot of time researching. All the inspirations, facts, news and suggestions you can find before you leave will be extremely useful once there.

In my opinion, one of the best way to get to know a country in visual terms is to, first, study existing photographic books on the chosen country. In general, photographers do not just stop at the most popular attractions but make us know about places and situations that are often unknown. Take notes of what seems to be more interesting for you and dig deeper on the theme or subject. If your budget is limited for you to purchase books, you’ll still find some interesting ones in libraries and public collections.

Street Photography : Shadows against a colorful wall in the night - A Lorenz Berna Photography of India

Inspiration widen your photographic creativity

To be inspired by the work of others does not mean copying it, but rather, considering how someone has already photographed this subject. In travel photography it often happens to photograph very famous places which have been portrayed millions of times. So looking at what has already been done before, will help us find creative ideas and not necessarily fall into clichés… Try also to search for the image agencies such as Natgeocreative, Corbis, Gettyimages and many more on the web. You will surely find some photos that will be able to inspire you and widen your imagination and creativity.

A 12 years old girl is performing tightrope walking at the Desert Festival in Jaisalmer - A Lorenz Berna Photography of India

Plan you trip to get the best situations and conditions that make great photos

Even in the early stages of your travel planning, you will learn many things about your destination. Try to collect news about potential photo subjects and take a look at the Holidays calendar of that country to see if your stay coincides with some festivals or celebrations. Find out where and when local markets take place, which are the best panoramic points and at the sunrise and sunset time.

Worker in Kampot salt fields at sunset - A Lorenz Berna travel photography of Cambodia

Organise your trip around your photographic itinerary and schedule it

If photography is really the driving force of your trip, then once you have created a kind of photographic itinerary, everything else will be a consequence of it. You can book hotels or guesthouses near the planned places, you will know more or less your daily expenses, the high or low seasons, the political situation. Important thing too is, before leaving or even in the plane if you didn’t get much time before, try to learn a few words in the local language. It will always help you to get things easier and relations with locals, friendlier!

Hot Air Ballons in Bagan, for the transport of tourists on sunrise tours, Myanmar

Categorize your subjects

Usually when I prepare a photographic trip I create ahead, a lists of the must-see on my pocket notebook which I organise into categories such as natural landscapes, urban landscapes or cityscapes, portraits, street photography, festivals and events, aerial photos, sunrise and sunset…
Obviously, I use it as a starting point that will be re-adjusted once there.

Portrait of a Tuk Tuk driver in Phnom Penh - A Lorenz Berna Travel Photography of Cambodia

Concentrate and limit your focus on precise themes

Even if you travel for personal pleasure and have not been commissioned by someone else, I think it’s a good idea to imagine to be so. This can give us a grade focus, helping us to concentrate our energies on a more precise theme as there are thousands of possibilities on which to structure a story while travelling. Moreover, the more clarity you will make, the easier it will be to choose the right equipment for a photographic trip.

That’s it! I really hope that these simple yet essential advices, will help you prepare your next trip in the best way and maximize the opportunities to capture great travel photos.