Never Travel With a Photographer

Kauai Coffee Plantation
Yes I will spend ten minutes taking pictures of this

Let me just begin this with the caveat that I don’t really call myself a “photographer”, I’m not sure what I would need to do to be comfortable with that, but I play with cameras and make pictures.

Today we woke up to a downpour as the last of the tropical storm rolled through, so we decided to do some shopping in Hanapepe. I did take a few photos of the swinging bridge, but because of the conditions those need a little tweaking, probably at home, before I upload them. So, instead, I’m going to use today’s update to talk about why traveling with someone who takes pictures will annoy the hell out of you.

I was originally going to frame this subject as “why no golden hour?”, referring to the notable lack of shots around those magical times right after sunrise and right before sunset, when the natural night is nice and soft and casts a mellow tint that makes everything look better. But I think showing it from the other perspective, the poor, hopefully patient people around us, makes more sense.

The first big reason you should never travel with a photographer is exactly that, because we love golden hour. And you aren’t going to want to get up before dawn and drive to whatever the day’s destination is, or head out to a vantage point as the sun is sinking, just so we can get some great shots. No, you want to hit a few sights after the sun has come up, maybe shake off your hangover my 10 or 11 am, get some lunch, and then see the sights at noon or the early afternoon. And this is exactly when we don’t don’t want to shoot anything. The sun is too high and bright, the light it casts is too harsh, the shadows on people destroy facial features. Then you’re going to want to get dinner around 6-8 pm, maybe someplace nice where the setting sun can enhance the atmosphere of your meal. But the entire time we’re going to be trying to rush you so we can catch maybe the last fifteen minutes of gorgeous light and get those shots that can never be reproduced.

In short, our schedule will be completely different than yours, and you will hate it.

The second big reason is that a photographer is going to be in photography mode, and look for interesting photos. Things that are interesting to most people do not necessarily make interesting photos. You may want to look in the souvenir shop, but we want to head down the alley behind it and talk to the local who is running the food truck there. You want to relax on the beach while we want to climb up a bunch of rocks looking for the perfect vantage point. And when interests do intersect, you’re going to need all of the patience you can come up with because we might take ten or fifteen minutes walking around, say, a monkeypod tree, looking for the right angles, searching for the right lighting, and waiting for the rapture before we’re satisfied with a photo or two. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll probably just keep walking and lose us — and we won’t mind, because we’re too wrapped up looking for photos that we don’t even notice you’re gone.

The third big reason is that most of a photographer’s vacation downtime will still be spent with photography. We’ll be charging our batteries, checking our gear, and inevitably we’ll bring or search for a computer to view and edit our photos. We’ll be wrestling with dodgy internet connections and seriously considering if $32.99 is really too much to pay for 24 hours of internet access. I mean, if I prepare all my photos ahead of time, I can probably get three day’s worth of work posted in that 24 hours… right?

No, traveling with a photographer is not worth it. Do yourself and them a favor and don’t let them travel with their good equipment. Bring a small, cheap, compact camera. Force them to use that, or if they’re such a photo snob they won’t, thank yourself and take all the pictures on your own. Will you miss out on the one or two postcard photos you’d get? Sure, but guess what, you’ll actually get to enjoy that view instead of holding expensive electronic equipment while lenses get changed or watching someone climb into a tree where who knows what rabid animals are living, just because “there’s a great angle up here!” Seriously, we apologize, we just can’t help ourselves.

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3 thoughts on “Never Travel With a Photographer

  1. Stacy Baugher

    I’ve actually had my wife make comments like this! “The (insert interesting sight here), why are you shooting over there!?”

    It took her a while, but she gets it now. Doesn’t always like it, but she gets it.

    Great read, thanks! Wish i could see the photo at the top, it says it is unavalible. Oh well, this post is from last year… :)

  2. B Post author

    Thanks for the heads up… I fixed the exposure up on all of my photos from that trip and used the “replace” option in flickr, but that still seems to break the link. I’ll have some tidying up to do.

    The best is when people want to stand in the brightest, harshest, sunniest spot possible for scenic family pictures. And wear hats so you can’t see their faces. Or they assume we want sixty shots of the same famous landmark that everyone else has already taken the exact same shots of. They mean well, I know…

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Pingback: Not enough time!!!! « Stacy Baugher, Photography

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