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Planning A Photography Trip - Logistics

Planning A Photography Trip – Logistics

This post will cover the non-photographic but essential stuff; accommodation, food, travel, medical, cost, etc.
So, you have decided where you are going, and more than likely have some ideas in your mind of the images you want to achieve whilst you are there. Unfortunately, even if you are wild camping, there is still a lot of research to be done.

Accommodation- hotels, bed and breakfast, camping, caravan site, wild camping, friends and family, etc. Wherever you stay you will need to book so get this done as soon as you know your location. Your priorities will be dependent on you as an individual. If you are camping will you wild camp? Are you allowed to wild camp where you are planning to? If you are booking onto a campsite, what amenities do you want? With hotels and B&Bs check online for reviews and availability, sites like; www.trivago.com, www.lastminute.com, www.travelodge.co.uk, www.premierinn.co.uk, www.booking.com will all allow you to research and book online, and generally allow you to pay by credit card to protect your payment.

Food – what times will you be eating? If shooting golden hours then you will most likely not be eating at usual times so you need to make sure you have provided for this. Lunches when you are halfway up a mountain, hunger pangs when the nearest shop is three miles across boggy land, running out of water, etc are all situations you need to be prepared for so make sure that you plan ahead. I always keep a six pack of bottled water in my car boot, along with snack bars for a high energy and quick feed. My wife has a great motto “I would rather be looking at it than for it”. Pack more than you think you will need, keep spares in the car, carry extra bars, etc just in case.

Travel – how long to get there? How long between locations? Type of roads? Toll charges, ferry costs, road closures, etc. When I drive to the Lake District my satnav says it takes six hours but when I factor in that I will need to stop at least twice (recommended to stop every two hours)for maybe half an hour each time then I am looking at seven hours minimum to get to my first location. I also like to allow for unexpected situations e.g. accident on motorway, road works in town centres, tractors on country lanes, etc. So now it is around eight hours to get there.

Obviously I cannot change sunset time, or the time it will take me to walk from where I have to park my car to where I want to set up, so I have to work backwards to establish a time to leave. Travel time between base and locations is a huge factor to be considered and will undoubtedly take up a lot of your time. On some days I have spent four or five hours just driving between locations and covered a few hundred miles. If shooting during the golden hours this will mean getting up at stupid o’clock, going to bed at a ridiculous time and only getting three hours sleep (when you get back to base you need to prepare for the next day – prepare food, download images from day, recharge batteries, etc). I think my worst stint was in the Lake District recently; between 0700 on a Friday to 2300 on the following Monday I got around ten hours sleep and drove a thousand miles. Experience taught me to take the Tuesday off !!
Check for car parking at each location and the distance and time you will need to walk to get to the specific location you want to shoot from, allow for car park charges as well.

Medical – make sure that you take sufficient medical supplies for what you need. Whether this be headache tablets, plasters for blisters or bandages, make sure you have enough for what you need and then some. For example, I am a type 1 diabetic so I need to take enough insulin and tablets for the days I am away, but I also need to take spare pills and syringes in case I lose any, or break any whilst out. Apart from this being very sensible, my wife won’t let me go unless I have packed the spares and she can see them in my camera bag!! I will also include under medical, to make sure that someone knows where you will be at any given time. I text my wife whenever I leave and arrive at a location. We have an agreement that if I cannot get a signal that she does not panic until after 11pm that evening, which means that I have to make sure I get somewhere with a signal by then – even if that means cutting my shoot at a location short. No photographs are worth risking my safety or making my wife worry. If she doesn’t hear from me, she always has a copy of my itinerary so she can contact emergency services. Also, if you can, get a GPS unit and set it up so it can be tracked online – this will literally be a life saver in an emergency as the emergency services can track your location.

Cost – obviously everyone will have different budgets and what they can afford to spend on a photography trip, and different tastes or standards they will live to. For example, I am happy to eat very basically for a few days and wild camp to keep costs down but other people will want to stay in a hotel and eat a proper dinner. Whatever your preferences are, make sure to budget for it and also to carry plenty of cash as cash machines tend to be rather scarce in some locations. Also keep plenty of change in your car for car parks, tolls, etc.
I will discuss Photography Trip Equipment in my next post.

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