Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based on the Tweed Coast in northern NSW, Australia. Mark is also the founder of Shotkit, an online resource for photographers to learn, be inspired, and to grow their photography business.
Most photographers have dreamt about being paid to travel and do what they love with a camera. I must admit, when I first saw the photos taken by a local photographer of an exotic ‘destination wedding’, I was eager to have a piece of the pie too!
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’ve shot weddings in over ten countries, from the apple orchards of Montreal to the historic mansions of Sri Lanka with hillsides in Malaga and mountain tops in Tokyo thrown in for good measure.
Nowadays, with three small ones and a wife whose patience is wearing a little thin of my overseas escapades, I’m happy to be shooting locally in and around Sydney. My travel consists mostly of interstate weddings, and the odd family holiday.
The tips below are relevant if you’re a wedding photographer, or just someone looking to travel more efficiently with a camera on their next holiday. I hope they help!
1. Minimise your camera gear
I spend most of my days writing about the latest camera gear on the Shotkit blog, so this may seem like a somewhat ironic statement!
Before you travel, have a good, hard think about what you need to pack to come home from holiday with some good photos. That travel tripod might be carbon fibre and pack up small, but couldn’t you rest your camera on a sturdy object to achieve the same result?
That big zoom lens – are you really going to be wandering around a foreign city with it attached to your camera?
With the Fujifilm system, of course, cameras and lenses are smaller. Everything is just so much more efficient to travel with, but even within the system, there are still sacrifices you can make.
My travel camera of choice has been the Fujifilm X100F for several years now – before that, it was the X100S. I love the limitation it imposes by being a fixed lens camera, and such a beautiful one at that.
I literally just pack the camera in my travel bag, and that’s it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love an X-T3, but the temptation would always be there to include just a couple of those gorgeous Fujinon lenses!
For minimalist travel, the X100F is an all-in-one system, and in my mind, it just can’t be beaten.
2. Do you really need a camera bag? Or only a bag for a camera?
This kind of ties into the tip above, and is equally ironic of me to say – I spent three whole months reviewing over 50 camera backpacks earlier this year…
The truth of the matter is, while I own 10+ camera bags in all shapes and sizes (and have a garage full of double that!) when I travel, I don’t even use a camera bag.
Bags designed for cameras are usually heavier, and more unwieldy than regular travel bags. Also, they typically look like – well, camera bags!
Next time you travel, I’d recommend you shun your favourite camera bag in favour of your regular travel bag, and carry your camera gear wrapped up inside items of clothing, for protection – a few rolled t-shirts will do just as good a job as some bulky foam padding.
Your travel bag will be able to accommodate all your usual travel essentials (obviously), as well as serve as a perfectly suitable `container’ for your camera gear, without being a target for thieves, nor being excessively heavy or bulky.
3. Unbranded everything
This tip follows on from the previous one and is a bit of a no-brainer. When travelling, minimise carrying anything that displays a camera brand.
While the camera strap that comes with your camera may look great (I especially like the rubberised GFX strap!), it quickly attracts the attention of thieves.
Get yourself an unbranded strap, and carry your camera in a way that it hangs in between your arm and your inner body. This will make it a lot harder for the old ‘motorbike-slash-and-grab’, that’s notorious in certain parts of Europe.
Another reason I love the Fujifilm X100F for travel is the fact that it’s just so stealthy. We all love Fujifilm’s retro branded cameras, but the X100 line takes the biscuit for its simplistic, unbranded facade.
From the front, it looks like an old rangefinder film camera, and the lack of branding makes it almost invisible to the inexperienced eye.
I find the X100F the most aesthetically pleasing camera on the market. It’s a bonus that its design is ideally suited to unobtrusive travel photography.
4. Multi-purpose everything
Back to the minimalist-travel-thing – try and make sure that everything you pack in your travel bag serves more than one purpose.
If I were to pack a camera battery charger for example, as light as that may be, it’s one more thing taking up precious space in my bag, and to make matters worse, it only serves a single purpose.
A considerable advantage of most Fujifilm X Series cameras is the ability to charge them using the micro-USB port. This nifty trick means that any powered USB port, such as the one found on your laptop, becomes a charger for your camera! (It also means that you can charge your Fujifilm using a portable battery pack, like the ones used to keep smartphones topped up).
When I travel, my laptop effectively becomes a charging hub for everything electronic I own – my smartwatch, my smartphone, my camera, my drone, and even my portable battery pack!
5. Backup starts on location
Back when I was doing a lot of overseas travel for wedding photography work, photo backup was always at the front of my mind. Being so far away from my principle hard drives and not having stable enough Internet connection to access the cloud, I needed to take a lot of care to ensure the safety of my clients’ images while travelling.
My methodology for this was simple – have backups in as many locations as possible, albeit close to my person. This meant backing up once to my laptop, once to a portable hard drive, then packing one memory card in my luggage, and carrying the other card in the pocket of the shirt I was wearing.
Seriously though, even if you’re travelling for fun, take steps to ensure safe backup of your precious holiday snaps until you return home.
If you’re shooting with the Fujifilm X-T3 or any of the other Fujifilm bodies with two memory card slots, copy my process above. If your camera only has one card slot, you can still do something similar, and have at least 2 points of redundancy.