take a camera or not is no doubt a personal choice. Some backpackers
consider photographing every new and interesting thing they
see as essential to their trip. On the other hand, some backpackers
find that the effort it takes to photograph manyS of the things
they see and do, as a 'record' for later, ruins the initial
Take some time to think about why you will be taking pictures.
Is it to show your friends and family what you have seen?
To look at years later and 're-live' the experience? Perhaps
you are a professional photographer (or plan to be) and hope
to make a profit by selling your snapshots? Or even all of
the above. These are all legitimate reasons to take pictures.
But sometimes you have to just travel for the experience and
not worry so much about the future. Take pictures, sure, but
know when to draw the line and just let the experiences happen.
If your travel
experience is being hindered by the constant 'need' to take
photographs, you may want to re-evaluate the importance of
recording your trip via camera. Don't sacrifice your journey
so you can look at the pictures later. Over-use of a camera
can take away from your travel experience by removing some
of the spontaneity as you continually look for 'the perfect
Camera prices and quality vary widely. From $5 disposables
all the way up to multi-thousand-dollar tools, you can spend
as little or as much as you want. Spend too little on a camera
and you may be in for a disappointment when you get your pictures
back. However, you really don't want to spend too much on
a camera either. Expensive cameras will leave you constantly
worried about it getting stolen or damaged.
More money does
not necessarily buy you better photos however. Find your own
happy medium between affordability and paranoia. If price
is an issue, you can't really go wrong with something in the
$100 range for the average traveler. It should be reliable
and offer a few basic features, yet won't leave you in tears
if it goes missing. Remember that the pictures you take will
be irreplaceable, so do it right the first time by spending
a little bit more on a quality camera.
There are generally two types of cameras: point-and-shoot
and SLR (single lens reflex). Point-and-shoot cameras are
small and easier to use (but may have fewer features) while
SLRs, with their interchangeable lens options and the like,
are bulkier and require more photo know-how to be used effectively.
We'd choose a small point-and-shoot camera with auto focus
so you'll be more apt to pull it out and use it. Added features
like a zoom lens for improved long-distance photos and a timer
to take self-photos of you and your traveling buddies are
Your basic film
options include either 35 mm or APS (Advanced Photo System)
and will depend on what type of camera you have. 35 mm film
is most common and comes in over 120 different formats. APS
film is 26mm, smaller than the standard 35 mm, which allows
for even smaller and lighter cameras. APS cameras also provide
additional features like easier film loading, mid-roll change
and date encoding. However, because the APS system is relatively
new, film and developing facilities can be difficult to find
in less-traveled areas. For detailed advice on film speeds
and formats, visit Photosecrets.
the quality of photos that a disposable camera can take. They
are remarkably inexpensive, lightweight, and worry-free and
take excellent photographs. I suggest taking your regular
camera, plus one of the waterproof 'disposables' made by Kodak
or Fuji. This way, you can take photographs while on the river
safari or near the waterfall without worrying about destroying
your more expensive camera.
Here are some important points to remember when preparing
for and taking photographs:
- take lots of
film. Carrying around a couple rolls too many is not that
big of a deal. But paying up to $10 for one roll of film
when you need it is. Film can be very expensive in developed
and less-developed countries. Even in Japan you can expect
to pay a lot of money for film (camera prices here are a
different story however). If it's your first trip and you
like to take pictures, six rolls will suffice for a two
month travel adventure. If you have too much, sell it to
other travelers for what you paid for it (or be real popular
by giving it away).
- don't take pictures
of every mountain and building you see, expecting them to
be fabulous photos when you get home. At the very least,
get one of your friends or travel companions in there too
so it is more memorable. This may be one of those tips that
you have to learn for yourself, but when you get home and
ask yourself "what building is this?" or "where
was this?", you will have learned better. Of course,
some things just beg for a photo, like the Leaning Tower
of Pisa, but try to keep these shots to a minimum.
- don't be shy
about asking a stranger to take your picture for you. If
your are traveling alone, this may be one of your few options.
But be careful who you ask. If the person looks like a faster
runner than you, don't bother. A quality camera may be worth
more than a years wages to people in some countries. You
could take self photos by holding your arm straight out
in front of you and attempt to get your face in the center,
but these usually don't quite turn out as planned.
- replace your
battery with a new one before you go. Buying some batteries
abroad (like the new lithium ones) can be difficult and
- get to know
your camera before you go. Making sure your new camera works
properly and learning how to use its new features is best
done at home.
rolls save volume and weight, but you're 'putting all you
eggs in one basket', so to speak. If something happens to
that one roll of film, you loose 36 pictures, not just 24.
- take a small
tripod (about 4. tall) that is made with thick form-able
wire legs, available at many outdoor stores. This handy
tool screws into the bottom of your camera and, presto,
- rather than
carrying around your exposed rolls of film and risk ruining
or losing them, mail them home.
- use anything
to prop a camera up to take your picture, from a rock to
a box of crackers. Of course, you will need a timer option
on your camera to do either of these methods, which is definitely
a worthy option to consider when buying a camera.
- when taking
your camera on the airplane, keep it in the day-pack you
are carrying on the plane, including all the film you are
bringing, instead of keeping it in your check-in bag. You
do not want to know what those baggage bashers at the airports
do to your bags, and having your expensive camera in your
check-in bag is asking for trouble. By keeping it with you
in your carry-on bag, you know where it is at all times.
Also, you can ensure that your film avoids the X-ray machines,
which can damage your film. Ask the security person if film
is safe to pass through the machine and/or pass it around
the machine in one of those cute little trays.
- when you are
taking pictures of anything that is behind a piece of glass
(for example, a painting or a suit of armor), do not stand
directly in front of the glass. Instead, stand at a slight
angle to the glass. This way you will avoid the reflection
of the flash as you take the picture. If you stand directly
in front of the glass, you will simply get a picture of
your flash and the picture will not turn out.
- in some countries
you may be required to pay extra money to bring your camera
into certain buildings or areas. This is true in many places
in Egypt for sure. If they see you carrying a camera they
will try to charge you extra. To avoid the hassles to begin
with, keep your camera in your pocket (if it is small enough)
or in your bag and do not make it too noticeable. This is
a good opportunity to use your tiny disposable camera. Often
there is not a genuine charge but simply a ticket-taker
that is looking for more money from you. Do not, however,
try to smuggle your camera into churches or places of worship
where there are signs asking you not to! You may get your
camera taken away permanently and/or offend their culture