As a photographer, exploration is imperative for your work and artistic growth. Embarking on a road trip where you can visit a large array of destinations that provide diverse photo opportunities only adds to your progression in life and work. Take into consideration your road trip essentials, photography practices and the sights you wish to see.
With the right preparation and frame of mind, you’ll experience a memorable road trip that will have inspired some of your best photographic work. Here is a road trip guide — of preparation, planning and destinations — for the passionate photographer:
Road Trip Essentials
Before you hit the road, make sure your car’s mechanics are in optimal condition. Take your car in for a tune-up, where your mechanic can change the oil, refill coolant, test your air conditioning, ensure your brakes are in working order, rotate your tires, and assess the overall functioning standards of the car.
Make sure you are prepared for any emergency situation. Keep a spare tire in the trunk of your car, with all the tools necessary for changing a flat tire. Make sure you have jumper cables and other car safety accessories. Store in your trunk a solid stock of water and food provisions and have a thoroughly assembled first-aid kit.
A car accident or driving infraction would put an unfortunate damper on your road trip adventure. Make sure you stay safe on the road. Brush up on each state’s traffic laws, so you will lessen your risk of a traffic ticket. Exercise caution when you travel in harsh weather conditions.
When you encounter heavy rain, for example, make sure to turn on your headlights and keep a safe distance between your car and the others on the road. Frequently check your tire pressure and oil levels if you are on an extended trip. Poor tire inflation can lead to a blowout, which will put you at great risk for irreparable car damage and passenger injury.
Amongst all the travel excitement, don’t forget the essentials! Make sure you pack all your basic photography gear for your trip. Bring along your battery chargers and a few extra batteries. Also make sure you have more than enough memory cards; the more storage you have, the higher resolution photos and videos you can capture.
Take only the lenses you think you will use. You don’t want to be lugging around expensive lenses that will sit in your car for the duration of the trip. A tripod is an imperative tool, as one is necessary for long exposure shots and time-lapse video.
The Perfect Shot
Don’t be afraid to halt your driving progress and get out of the car for a photo opportunity. It’s best if you find a scenic spot that allows for exploration of the entire area, rather than simply shoot from the roadside. Stop at a trailhead, for example, so you can go deep into the forest and discover a scenic viewpoint. In addition, make sure to plan your accommodations strategically, so you can have a central hub that allows for exploration of nearby sites.
Your accommodations should be in a spot that has many nearby photo opportunities. North Bend, nestled beneath the Cascade Range in Washington state, is a quaint city that was the setting for the TV series, Twin Peaks, and is near the noteworthy Snoqualmie Falls. The easy access to the Cascades — where you can take outstanding nature photos — is another attractive feature of this destination. The area has many facets for exploration, making it a great photo stop.
Design your route and itinerary around the photos you wish to take. If you’re interested in nature shots, find roads that wind through national parks like Zion, Yosemite or Yellowstone. These destinations are ideal for the adventurous photographer who isn’t afraid to get dirty and is eager to have a full immersion into nature.
For the photographer who appreciates the coastal landscape, the southern Oregon and northern Californian coasts provide outstanding ocean views. This route also has a sprinkling of quaint, seaside towns that have picturesque buildings and interesting locales. If food photography is on the docket, head on down to the South. Make your way from New Orleans to Charleston, South Carolina, where you can capture photos of all things gourmet, as well as regional, street food specialties.