What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Travel Photography

Last year during a deep-water soloing excursion in Thailand I lost a week’s worth of photos when my precariously placed SD card fell out of my pocket and into the ocean. The year before that, I got chased down by a small Peruvian girl in Cusco who wanted me to pay $10 for taking her photo. And before that, I got my camera and iPad stolen by a herd of vicious small children in Chile.

I’ve made A LOT of mistakes in regards to managing photography while traveling. The good news is, this means you don’t have to make the same mistakes- hopefully!

Let me start with a disclaimer. I’m not a professional photographer; this isn’t a post about how to take pictures or use your camera. I really know nothing about that. If you do, please fill the rest of us in so we stop taking pictures of our fingers…

Here are the tidbits of my photography knowledge that you might find valuable:

Saving Photos:

Nothing is worse than losing months worth of precious travel memories. The key to mitigating this risk is saving your photos in multiple places as often as possible

  • Flickr- this is my favorite online photo storage site. Online photo storage is muy importante because it completely eliminates the risk of lost photos if your gear is stolen. It also allows you to easily share your photos. Feel free to use One Drive or Google Drive if you are already familiar with those.
  • USB- Every so often I like to back up my SD cards on a USB. You can store the USB stick in a safe at your accommodation while you are out and about or just keep it somewhere safe and dry.
  • SD- I recommend bringing multiple smaller SD cards rather than one with a ton of space. This way you will only have a week or two of photos on each one. Also, make sure to upload your photos as often as possible!

Good Cultural/Privacy Practices:

  • Ask permission to take a picture- if you are taking a picture of someone who isn’t part of a general crowd or setting, it’s polite to ask if it is okay. This goes for taking photos of their products/goods as well.
  • Offer to send pics via email- If you are taking staged photos of people or families, ask if you can send them the final product. Many people in developing countries don’t often get the chance or have the funds for family photos and would appreciate the gesture.
  • Know which sites allow photography- don’t be the gringo in the sacred church who is using flash photography during Catholic Mass.

My Favorite Equipment:

  • Sony a6000 mirrorless camera w/ kit lens, prime lens (amazing for portraits) and a zoom lens
  • iPhone with Lifeproof Case

Basic Editing:

  • Shoot in RAW- Rather than JPEG, which compresses your image, RAW allows tons a freedom during the editing process. It also means that the overall quality of your photos will be better- especially if you plan on printing your images. (Keep in mind that RAW files take up more space and require processing.)
  • Canva- Great website for creating marketing content with your photos. And it’s FREE! It has basic editing features, but I mostly use it to add text for blog titles and to create image size templates.
  • Lightroom- Awesome editing software that is much simpler than Photoshop. If you aren’t looking for super intense professional-grade editing, Lightroom will suit every single one of your needs!

Other Important Things To Keep in Mind:

  • Make sure to put the camera down every once in awhile. Spending your entire trip behind the lens is pretty lame. Go into each day with a general idea of the shots you’d like to get. This will save tons of time!
  • Your camera turns you into a big giant “rob me” target. Sometimes that photo of the drug cartel street fight just isn’t worth the risk- be smart and be safe with your gear.
  • Don’t forget to get some shots of yourself!
  • Take pictures of things you’d like to remember later, like restaurant menus or names of streets.

Photography is a beautiful way to save and share priceless memories from your trip. I hope these tips set you up for creative success and save you from hours of stress! Good luck my friends.


What are your “go to” photography tips and tricks while traveling?

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