As a photographer, everyone expects you to come up with amazing travel photos. You have the equipment, you are in a new location where there is inspiration everywhere, your unique perspective can breathe new life to places that locals take for granted and not see.
All these statements are true. But for my trip, my camera was almost a hinderance. Why would I say such a thing when my business is taking photos?! It’s absurd! Let me explain.
I knew that Canada and the USA are spectacular. There is diversity in the people and places I went to and it was like visiting seperate countries within the same country. Vermont is as different to Boston as Romania is to China.
I had with me my camera and 3 lenses which I thought would cover all aspects of this trip: 10-18mm, 35mm and a 50mm. Landscapes: covered. Street photography: covered. Portraits: covered. I had extra batteries and extra memory cards. Everything was ready to go… except I chose not to take them out with me. Why?! Well, it was the weight, mainly. The first time I took the gear out with me, I was fresh and excited. The weight didn’t bother me and I had the opportunity to photograph places while I was out and about in Toronto, quickly taking shots of street scenes and finally at the top of the CN Tower. Great!
The next day, I didn’t want to be burdened down with all my camera gear as we were moving from place to place and I knew I didn’t have the time to slow down and think about shots, trying to “get” the shot. So I used my iPhone 6S instead. This turned out to be a revelation to me. I had my phone on me everywhere (for Google maps) and it was quick to access the camera. OK, it didn’t have the wide aperture of my 35mm or 50mm (f1.4 & f0.95) but it captured everything I wanted it to.
With edits done on SnapSeed, the pictures turned out great and are perfectly acceptable for the website. I did have concerns about low-light performance, and the tonal and dynamic range, but having no extra weight to consider, I was happier and more mobile, quickly framing shots and angles that would’ve taken me a lot longer to get with my dslr.
So what is the perfect camera for travel? For me, it was my phone. Which leads me to a question that shaped my photos throughout the trip: what do people look at when they see your travel photos? Is it the aperture settings? The scene? The funky filters? Is it properly exposed? Is it sharp? Well, it may be all of those reasons, but I think its about the story telling. They may or may not have been to the same places as you, but they are interested to learn about them. If there is an interesting tale about a location, could you relay that effectively and simply in the photo you show them? Does the photograph help support the story and fill in the gaps? Can the listener picture themselves in the photo? If the answer is yes, it doesn’t matter what you took the photo with. The story is the interesting part and the photo justifies it.
Am I going to sell my camera gear after this? No. I have jobs to do that require it. But when I travel, I’m not going to think twice about taking my phone and ONLY my phone to capture everything!