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Traveling with non-photographers – Photofocus Inspiration

Whether you’re a serious hobbyist, semi-pro or pro, traveling and going on outings are part of our lives with our friends and loved ones. As a photographer, this can sometimes hinder our efforts to get the shots we want but it doesn’t have to.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you all have a successful trip.

Plan your travel

One of the easiest ways to alleviate the stress that sometimes happens when traveling with non-photographers is to plan. When you plan your travel itinerary, sit down with your fellow travelers and discuss what everyone would like to accomplish. Talk about the sites to see, restaurants to check out and touch on what everyone’s expectations might be.

As plans are made you may find that there are people who have different itineraries in mind. It’s going to happen, trust me.


You, as a photographer probably already have a list of what you want to photograph. Your family and friends have their own ideas and may even be worried that your photography will hold them up. Discussing this upfront will help considerably to make the trip a little more stress-free.

Map it all out. Break up into groups if need be. Make sure you also leave free time for everyone. Don’t schedule and map out every single detail and minute or you’ll end up stressed while trying to keep to the schedule. Allow time for just wandering or lingering in a cafe. One of the best things about traveling is being in the location you are. This allows you to get a feel for the place, the people and the culture. It’s hard to do that if you have tours and sightseeing planned every moment.

Create a travel shot list

For your own sanity, create a list of the places you want to take images. Having this list as a base will help in the planning process. This way you’ll know locations, distances and whether or not it will be possible to actually get to everything you want to. If not, prioritize your list. What shots are most important for you to come away with and tell your travel story? Make sure you are able to get those or you may come home disappointed.


If you are taking any sort of tour on your trip let the tour guide know ahead of time that you are a photographer. Ask them, if at all possible, would they be able to make sure you have time to get to the right location for the images you want to take. Can they do this without interrupting the planned route and time schedule? Better yet, if you are able, take a private tour as a group or even on your own. This is a fantastic way to be able to suggest and guide your own itinerary while still learning and seeing the local area.

Take time to be on your own

I know it seems counterintuitive to go on a trip with friends and/or family and take time for yourself but it’s necessary and will benefit everyone on the trip. Go off on your own strictly to take photos. You won’t have to feel rushed or be aware of those who constantly wander in front of you and are getting in your shots. Plan a morning or afternoon where the rest of the group is on a tour, at a museum or heading off for some other planned activity. Spend some time winding down and going through the day’s images in a quiet cafe or your room. This helps you not feel so overwhelmed with all the images you have to go through when you get home.


Include fellow travelers

Make sure to include “vacation” photos. Take images of your friends and family. For one, you’ll be expected to have some of these as the photographer of the group. Secondly, you’ll be glad when you are sharing and going through vacation photos years down the road that you recorded the people you shared the trip with as well.

Don’t forget to hand the camera or phone to someone else to make sure you also have photos of yourself from your trip.

Another way to include them is to help them with their own photos (if they are open to it and want help). Share some tips for better photos, phone shots or otherwise. Maybe they have a new camera they need help with, do what you can to make them more comfortable using it. You may find they might be too intimidated to ask you questions because you are the expert. Show them how just moving two steps to the right might make a little bit better image. Again, be careful with this so you’re not telling them what to do, just little bits of advice to help them come home with better images.


Step out of your photographer role and relax. Yes, you can still take photos but put the camera on auto, let it do the work or just use your phone at times. Take fun shots on the fly and maybe out of your norm. Doing this allows you to also loosen up and just enjoy the trip without the worry of making the perfect shots at all times.

Give yourself a break. If you’re traveling with children, even better. Give them cameras, and phones and take them under your wing. Let them take photos of whatever they want, you’ll be amazed by the images they come back with, and what and how they see.

Traveling with friends and family doesn’t have to be strictly non-photography for you. Communicating and planning make it work for everyone involved to make a successful trip for everyone. Safe travels!

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Rafael Jones

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