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Tips & Tricks

Joey L’s 5 Critical Tips for Travel Photographers

By fotosiamo on December 2nd 2012

Traveling as a photographer, especially into foreign land, often requires special attention to gear care and logistics. For example, you have to make sure that you have extra gear such as batteries and hard drives. You also have to know how to interact with the locals, as well as deal with thieves and even airport officials.

Joey Lawrence may be young, but he is seasoned travel photographer, having been to the far-off corners of the world such as the jungles of Ethiopia and Indonesia, the Ganges River in India, and the villages of Tanna Island.

Joey L posted a very helpful and thorough article on his 5 Critical Tips for Travel Photographers. These are great tips to know whether you’re travelling domestically or internationally.

Here are Joey L‘s 5 critical tips:

1. Make your camera look like a heap of trash
2. Don’t put “Photographer” on customs forms when shooting for personal photo trips
3. Keep at least two hard drives safe
4. Stay in touch with the people you photograph
5. Hire Locals

The first tip is about making your camera and camera bag not look so shiny and new in order to deter thieves. Thieves in every part of the world typically know that a nice looking camera and lenses can sell for a lot of money in the black market. Joey L covers his own camera with duct tape, carries it in a weathered-looking bag, and tapes up recognizable logos such as “Canon” or “Phase One.”

In developing countries particularly, fancy-looking gear can also cause problems with custom officials. The presence of professional-looking gear raises questions about the purpose of your visit. So to save your self the headache during your trip, don’t stand out with your expensive, nice-looking gear.

To learn more about this tip and rest of the tips, be sure to check out Joey L’s 5 Tips article. It’s a great read!

One of my tips is to use a mirrorless camera such as one of the Olympus OM-D or the Fuji X-Pro 1 in order to take your photos. Both cameras provide excellent image quality in a smaller package that doesn’t attract as much attention as a full-frame prosumer camera.

Additionally, when you get a location, don’t just start taking photos of the locals. Talk to them first and make them feel comfortable with you. Not only will this help you connect with them, but they may be more willing to help you get a stronger image either. You may even get access areas that are not as open to foreigners.

One of readers, Edward Millership, also advise to not use the stock camera strap because they advertise the brand and model of your DSLR.

Readers, what are some of your best traveling tips?


Joe is a rising fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs. Be sure to check out his work at and connect with him on Google Plus and on Facebook

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Privatebydesign

    Anybody that believes a bit of tape will change the prospect of theft is naive in the extreme. To a thief in a country where average annual earnings are well under $1,000 a year the difference between a Rebel and a 1Ds MkIII are insignificant, they will both get $50 on the local black market. Oh, and they are very wise to the need for specialised battery chargers!

    Opportunity is the key, and vigilance, along with a strap you will use, are far more effective deterrents. Having said that, and having traveled with expensive camera gear for tens of years, I would point out that in my experience populous Western cities and airports are far bigger risk factors for gear theft than poor countries and isolated villages, where many thieves simply wouldn’t know where to fence such a stand out item as a dslr.

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