Photography and adventure were made for each other. Yes, it’s possible to find adventure anywhere — from crawling around in your back yard searching for critters to wandering your city’s blocks. And it makes perfect sense to bring a camera along to document your adventures, whether to share with others or just to treasure as a little keepsake for yourself.
If you’re a particularly adventurous person, it’s likely you will eventually grow out of local treks and want to do something on a more grand scale. This means you will have to account for a few more factors than when you’re just drifting a couple of miles from home.
Here are 4 basic tips that will help make you a successful adventure photographer.
Prioritize Survival Skills
Apparently it is pretty easy for people to get in over their heads when embarking on an adventure. There’s no shortage of stories about hikers/climbers/campers who find themselves in all manner of peril in unfamiliar locations, often because they lack basic outdoor survival skills.
Before immersing yourself into the wilderness, it would be wise to acquire such knowledge so that you’re prepared to some degree for the unexpected. There are classes you can take or, perhaps better yet, someone you can take along with you such as a local guide.
I know that being spontaneous is part of being adventurous, but it’s not always a great idea to just wing it. At a minimum you should plot a beginning and ending point for each day of your adventure.
If you’re comfortable veering off course along the way, great. Just be sure you know how to get back on course so you can make it to your end point before sunset.
Speaking of sunset (or sunrise), this is probably something you’re going to want to photograph. An app like Gaia, PhotoPills or The Photographer’s Ephemeris can help you keep track of celestial events, follow the weather, record your tracks and so much more.
Making use of the technology that’s available to you will play a big part in ensuring you have a safe, enjoyable adventure.
Be smart about the camera gear you pack. Considering the amount of walking you will be doing, it only makes sense to pack light. Take what you absolutely need, not what you might need.
Do you need a big DSLR or will a lighter mirrorless camera do? The DSLR vs mirrorless debate is one worth knowing about for adventure photographers.
If you know you can photograph what you want with a single zoom lens, then leave all your other lenses behind. If you want to shoot landscape photography, you'll probably only need a wide angle lens. Same with photographing the Milky Way. Know what sacrifices you are willing to make and pack accordingly.
The one area you might forgo a minimalistic approach is with accessories.
Bring plenty of extra camera batteries and memory cards. These items are easy to pack and carry and they will provide the peace of mind you need to shoot as much as you want.
Don’t forget a power pack of some kind and charging cables and rain protection for both you and your camera.
Enjoy Your Adventure/Final Thoughts
If you’re adventuring, let that be your priority. As long as you’ve planned and packed well, the photography will fall into place. You don’t want to become preoccupied with photography to the extent that it ruins your trip.
Electronic devices seem to sprout a mind of their own at the most inconvenient times; if you find yourself in having to deal with an uncooperative piece of gear, don’t waste too much time on it. Get the shots that you can (even if it’s with your phone) and worry about just being present and enjoying your time.