7 Travel Photography Workflow Tips to use on the road

Death Valley NP California, USA. Click on the image for a larger view

In the last couple of posts the travel photographer destination part I and part II, we discussed what to do when you reach your destination. 

But what about your travel photography workflow whilst you are on the road?

Follow me as I give you some tips and tricks on how to handle the photos you are taking whilst you are on the road.

A Recap

You’ve learnt in the last few posts about being prepared and ready to take travel photos. Making sure your camera equipment is always set up correctly, clean, has the correct lens and plenty of memory and battery power.

So now you are out there taking images, how should you go about it.

1. Keeping tabs on what you are taking

Newer cameras have GPS tags and dates. 

So you could be thinking that taking down details of the photos you take is a no longer necessary

But, if you actually want to relive the experience of when you took the image, then note taking is essential.

It doesn’t have to be ‘war and peace’. It can be as simple as “Sydney Harbour Bridge taken from the Rocks area”. You could go into more detail like: “Sydney Harbour Bridge taken from the Overseas Passenger Terminal Quay on Circular Quay West. Time 4Pm 27/05. Weather was overcast and the sun was a few minutes from setting.”

7 Travel Photography Workflow Tips to use on the road
Sydney Harbour Bridge taken from the Rocks area

Taking notes can help:

  • As a backup for the metadata that’s captured in the photos itself. Locations and even times are not always accurate
  • To add a caption to the photos if you are going to share and/or display it.
  • As a record of where you took this photo. If you ever return and that could be a few days or years later, you know where you’ve been and whether it’s worth going back to the same spot.

2. Making sure you are secure.

Depending on where you are in the world, security is something to pay attention to.

There will always be someone who is keen to steal from you as a tourist.

There are countless stories of tourists having their bags, cameras and other items ripped from them.

However, whilst there’s never a guarantee that you won’t find yourself in that situation, you can definitely minimise the chances.

  • If you want to have your camera ready to go, make sure you have it around or across your neck.
  • Carry your bag across your body or if it’s a backpack carry it as a back pack.
  • Keep all your bag pockets and openings firmly closed.
  • And speaking of bags, it’s best to have a non-descript bag that doesn’t shout to the world “CAMERA”!
  • There will be times when you need to put your bag on the ground. A foot through one of the straps is always a good idea.
  • Beware of what and who is around you. If you see anyone suspicious move away.
  • Keep away from the kerb if you are in an area that’s known for motorbike thieves.

3. Subjects

Whilst strictly not part of any travel photography workflow, I’ve included it here. Without thinking about subject matter then you’re not going to create great images.

As you roam the streets of your destination, always look for something interesting and unique.

That can be anything from the usual famous Icons to much smaller obscure subjects like rubbish on a street, or street art, even a close up of the bark on a tree.
The list is endless.

7 Travel Photography Workflow Tips to use on the road
Street art in Perth Western Australia

Whatever subject you choose to take, play around with different settings, angles and positions.

The goal is not to copy what everyone else is doing but to be individual.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever take a straight forward image of an icon.
After all, you may be able to bring a different style to a subject even if from the same position as everyone else.

Often you will think that these different experimental images didn’t work. 
Because of that you will be tempted to delete it after looking at it through the camera viewfinder.

Don’t do it.

In fact, don’t look at what you have taken at all until you have moved away and are resting somewhere away from the subject.

4. Reviewing through the viewfinder

There are few times when you should review what you have taken.

The most important being if you want to make sure you captured something that you may never see again.

Even then it’s only worth looking if you have the opportunity to retake it, otherwise what’s the point.

If you missed that multi coloured Aston Martin with a James Bond look alike standing up through the sun roof, then that’s too bad.

The thing is that looking through the viewfinder at what you have taken, can rob you of any other photo taking opportunities. 

Things can move quickly, light changes, people and vehicles move, and the weather can change in a instant.

The time to review, as I said is away from the action. You are only doing it for some immediate gratification and to show others anyway.

Of course, in the present-day social media share society, you may want to share some images that you have just taken immediately.

That’s all down to personal choice.
Personally, I don’t share anything publicly until I know the image is at it’s best.

5. Back up

The best time to review the day’s images is when you get back to your accommodation.

Before you do anything, you need to back everything up.

If the only copy of your image is on the memory card, then you are playing with fire.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to have a least 2 other copies in different locations.
If you’ve copied all your images to both a hard drive and your laptop then store the hard drive in a different bag to your laptop.

For more on backing up your images go to how to back up you travel photos.

6. Reviewing correctly

How much you can review is dependent on what other equipment you have with you.

If you have a laptop with processing software, then you can start by picking your keepers or at least allocating stars.

You can even begin post processing if that’s what you want to do.

But there’s no point in starting to post process if your laptop screen is small and/or hasn’t been calibrated

Any adjustments you make are likely to be inaccurate.

You can of course still review and maybe go through and rate them or select the keepers.

I’ll cover that process in another post.

7. Deleting

So, let’s say you have backed up the days’ shooting and have gone through them and rated them.

What do you do with the ones that are no good?

In general – nothing!

Unless you have images that are totally out of focus or you’ve had a few accidental hip shots then don’t delete.

I’ve actually had a couple of good shots that have been accidentally taken from the hip.

My final note on this travel photography workflow is that it’s a personal choice on how much time you spend on your images when you are back at your digs.

But I would again recommend that if you are not travelling alone then do the minimum or be prepared to suffer the consequences of being anti-social.

Travel Photographers Workflow on the road – Summary

The wonders of having dates and even Geo Tags on each file are great. But it’s still essential to keep a written, whether electronically or by hand, record on each image or batch of images.

It’s essential to keep a low profile if you have an expensive (even if it’s not) looking camera.

Pay attention to who and what is around you.

Don’t rely on others but don’t obsess either. You are there to enjoy yourself.

Look for individual shots that speak to the viewer and give you a sense of satisfaction.

Only review through the view finder when you believe you really need to.

The world keeps spinning while you are looking at the viewfinder.

Once you are back at your accommodation back up first, then review and finally start rating.

But make sure you have a big enough screen to give you plenty of detail.

Don’t delete anything unless it’s obvious that you will never see the image again.

Finally remember you can review, rate, delete and post process when you get home.

Nothing like relaxing with a beer at the end of the day at a place you like or have never been before with friends and/or family.

What’s your workflow?

I’ve come clean and told you what I do. What about you? Do you have a travel photography workflow that’s totally different from what I’ve mentioned in this article?
Leave your comments below

And while you’re at it why don’t you pop your email in the box below. Not only will you get content that’s not always posted on this site, but you will get my free e-book “9 ways to improve your Travel Photography”.

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Melbourne skyline from Hawthorn

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