Travelling With a Photographer — What’s It Really Like?

Real Talk: What’s It Like Travelling With a Photographer?

Here’s a no-frills account.

I’ve been travelling with a photographer since 2010 when I met my boyfriend, who is a photojournalist and professional lensman.

Also read: I Saved Up to Travel Abroad For the First Time When I Was 25 & Here’s What I Learned

Somehow when people learn this, they ooh and ahh. They expound on how lucky I am to be with someone who’ll “always make me look good”. If I’d earn a dollar every time that (or something similar) is said to me, I’d probably have enough to buy a high-end mirrorless camera.

jilson tiu

Here he is during our trip to Taiwan. In almost every photo I take of him, his trusty camera makes an appearance.

I can’t blame them though. In the digital age, where social media aesthetic reigns supreme, there is a premium placed on anything Instagram-worthy. Even if at times, this “Instagram-worth” unhealthily becomes an extension of a person’s actual worth and self-worth — but that’s another story.

Point is: Yes, travelling with a photographer can be awesome… but it also has its quirks and kinks. Here’s what it’s really like travelling with a photographer — no-fuss, no frills, no-bull.

1. There are instances you’ll suddenly be left to your own devices

One minute you’re walking alongside your photographer companion and the next thing you know, you’re traversing the streets alone. You’re careful not to stray too far, though, because you don’t want to lose each other in the crowd. Even if you both have access to the Internet, locating one another could be a pain, depending on circumstances. Better safe than sorry, right?

travelling with a photographer

Travelling with a photographer is pretty much like this: There are times when you’ll be left all by yourself. This is great if you appreciate alone time, or if you’re travelling with the mutual understanding that you don’t have to be together all the time. But if you’re the clingy type, travelling with a photographer may not be for you. Because if they see something they like, and they have to chase after it to photograph it, they will. Regardless of where that puts you.

Luckily, my photographer travel buddy is also my boyfriend. So when this happens, he makes sure I’m safe and happily fed to avoid the dreaded state of being hangry!

2. You’ll be waiting A LOT

Much of photography relies on patience. If you’re not into the art form, you might not be aware that beautiful shots take time. These breathtaking images are often born out of talent, skill, and a truckload of patience. Going around with a photographer means you’ll be waiting a lot too. And if you’re a stickler for precise itineraries, travelling with a photographer might not be your cup of tea.

travelling with a photographer

On any given day, we would hang out in a certain spot for more than an hour to wait for the right light to hit a certain area of whatever it is my boyfriend is photographing. Lucky us if we can pass time in a cafe or while shopping. Sometimes, I can explore and do my own thing, too. Or I actually shoot with him. Either way, you can’t be impatient. That’s just not an option.

3. But you’ll also be on-the-go

Sure, there will be a lot of waiting but you’ll always be on-the-go too. Which is totally understandable especially when you’re travelling, right? I mean, that’s the main goal after all — to go around. But there are times you’ll have to chase the shot with your photographer companion, whether or not it interests you.

Case in point: Most travellers will be ready to climb into bed after a full day of walking the streets. But not us. During Chinese New Year in Taiwan, we headed to a temple and stayed there until past midnight… even after touring the whole day. Aside from patience, you’ll also need stamina if you’re to keep up with a photographer travel buddy. Even with the lack of sleep, chances are they’ll want to catch the sunrise as well. Dawn’s creeping light makes for gorgeous snapshots, after all. Are you ready to give up sleep for that?

4. Nothing is set in stone as far as your itinerary is concerned

trip planning

On top of being patient and always ready-for-action, we normally have to adjust our itinerary along the way. Which is why I always end up crafting a flexible itinerary during our travels. Actually, the same goes for dates in the city back home.

Also read: Travel Itinerary or No Travel Itinerary? That is the Question

5. You’ll be lugging around a lot of tech…

how to pack gadgets

…and you’ll actually understand what everything is for. Your photographer companion will most likely have the camera body, a couple of lenses, chargers, batteries, adaptors, and maybe even a drone. If you’re at the beach, I wouldn’t be surprised if a GoPro is added to the arsenal. Believe me, there WILL be times when you’ll find yourself carrying some of these around.

And you’ll actually have your own equipment to bring if you’ve picked up the hobby as well. So that means you’ll have to make more space in your luggage. Or get extra luggage allowance.

6. Charging your devices is a top priority

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. My boyfriend always says that his camera is already part of his body. So if it’s not charged, we ain’t going nowhere.

7. Honestly, you’ll really end up with nice photos

travel photography tips

But you have to remember it’s not the sole purpose of your trip. When on a leisurely trip with a photographer, it’s all about striking a balance between travelling for photography and taking some photos while travelling. Of course, it’s a different matter when we travel for work. When that’s the case, our priority is to get the job done.

But when we travel for recreational purposes, we make sure we take in the experience. Don’t forget: Some things are better seen with your own eyes than through a viewfinder. I’m sure you’ll still get to take a few snapshots after appreciating the view with your own two eyes. Also, keep in mind that you’re travelling with an actual human being; appreciate the company. Otherwise, you should have just booked a solo trip with your camera in tow.

8. It doesn’t matter if you’re not ready for that close-up

First of all, to the people who tell me that I look good thanks to “the HD shots”, are you insulting me or are you complimenting my boyfriend’s camera? Think about it: Did you even think of the implications of what you were saying? Or is mindless blabber your kind of conversation?

I know I just said travelling with a photographer means you’ll have great pictures. But you won’t be photo-ready 100% of the time! There will be shots of yourself that you won’t like, especially since a powerful camera will pick up Every. Little. Detail. Surely, there will be times when you just want to shy away from the camera. But that won’t matter. Travelling with a photographer means having to accept the inevitability of photos that make you look at yourself and say, “Ewww.”

By the way, please don’t forget to thank and credit your photographer friends when you post their work. That’s the proper thing to do. Especially when you’re travelling with a professional photographer, keep in mind that they usually get paid to click that shutter. In essence, you got that Instagrammable pic for free.

9. You’ll have to get over the fact that their eyes are drawn to anything (and ANYONE) beautiful

This is more of a concern for those who, like me, are in a romantic relationship with the said photographer. It’s not a bad case of a wandering eye, if you know what I mean. Photographers are artists, and things they find beautiful will naturally catch their eye. And they will act on it if they think it will make a good photograph. But don’t worry. By “act on it”, I mean they’ll simply take a snapshot. And maybe post it on social media too. No room for jealousy here.

10. People will be curious

Some strangers are entranced by the mere sight of professional camera gear. And they won’t hesitate to show it. Be prepared to deal with this curiosity — some people will even ask for their photos to be taken and sent to them!

11. Sometimes people won’t be able to hide the fact they want you around for “great photos”

This one’s a real bummer for me. Even some of my friends and family (and my boyfriend’s friends and family) are guilty of it. When people find out that I go around with a professional photographer, some of them take advantage. Having you around means having your photographer friend around, and so begins this cringe-worthy cycle. Do I even need to say how wrong this is on so many levels?

Know that I secretly mark people who invite us somewhere, only to ask if we brought a camera. And when we take rainchecks and you suddenly say, “Aww, too bad, we were looking forward to the photos”, know that’s just as irritating. If that’s the basis of your invitation, then we’d rather decline, thank you very much.

12. Every day’s a school day

If you hang out with a photographer all the time, you’re bound to learn something new every now and then. You’ll pick up the lingo and maybe even the hobby. Who knows, with enough practice, you might even develop the eye for great shots!

13. Surprise — you’re the day’s photo assistant!

travelling with a photographer

Alongside the waiting, there are times you’ll have to help while your photographer friend is shooting. Be ready to carry equipment or maybe even stand in as a model. There was a time I had to watch over my boyfriend’s hefty camera bag while he hurried to shoot something that caught his eye outside. Without explaining, he just bolted out of the coffee shop with a quick “Be right back,” camera in hand.

14. You’ll learn to spot nice scenes and angles

Like I said, if you practise enough, you’ll get better at photography too. You’ll learn to see great frames with a photographer’s eye. You’re bound to surprise even yourself; you might just pick a skill that comes extra handy these days.

Also read: Travel Photography: 7 Ways To Take Better Photos With Your Smartphone

15. You’ll also fall in love with photography

As cheesy as it sounds, I must admit I fell for the photographer before falling for photography. And, if like me, you end up loving photography, I say just let it happen.

photography

Photography is a great tool for telling stories and expressing yourself. It’s therapeutic and there’s just something magical about preserving a memory by simply pressing on that shutter. Plus, you’ll get to shoot alongside your photographer companion on your next trips. It’s a win-win.

Also read: 12 Signs You’re Ready To Have A Travel Grid On Instagram

Have any travel photos to share with us? Tag us on Instagram! We’d love to share your work with our community!

About Author

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularized by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.

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