Safety Tips for Travel Photographers

Posted on 30 June 2019


At Steinberg Photography, we take experienced and novice photographers all over the globe on guided photography tours. We go to some of the most gorgeous, wild places on earth (this fall we’re heading back to Oman!). Underpinning all our adventures is safety.

Unfortunately, part of the nature of being a travel photographer is that you are in unfamiliar locations. And that means taking on a certain amount of risk. We mention risk not to deter you from travel photography, but to encourage you to be mindful. Following a few safety precautions and being aware of the perils that can ruin your trip is often enough to keep you from harm.

Protect Your Equipment

Your equipment is highly valuable. When traveling by plane, carry it with you onboard as much as possible. That is both to prevent damage and theft. Invest in a hard case that will fit in the overhead bins. Be prepared to pack your tripod in your checked luggage as most airlines will not allow it as a carry-on.  If you must check your equipment, use one of the baggage wrapping services available at some airports in the States and most overseas. This makes your bag as tamper proof as is possible.

Once you arrive at your destination, keep your equipment and valuables on you. If you take a taxi, don’t store anything of value in the trunk. 

When you arrive at your hotel, use the safe. Test it first to make sure you can get back into it once it’s closed! If you want to leave the room without your equipment, keeping as much locked in the safe as possible is additional protection from potential thieves. Also, unless you need to have your passport and additional money, these too should be stored in the safe. 

When you go out, take only the equipment and money you will need for the next excursion. 

Once out, never leave your equipment unattended. In some places it is advisable to never even let go of your camera bag!

Get Insurance

Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Make sure that you will be covered in the event that your camera is lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip. The cost is worth your peace of mind when should the worst happen, you can at least replace what was physically lost. Travelling to some of the more “off the beaten path” locations can prove tricky with many insurers, so check your policy to make sure you’re covered.  Having trouble finding insurance for Africa of other locations? Check with USAA as they cover equipment world-wide.

Know the Lay of the Land

Before heading anywhere, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research beforehand. Get a sense of the area you’re visiting, and if some areas are safer than others. Avoid the areas that are known for being less safe. Check out travel warnings and make sure you heed them and be sure to enroll in the State Department’s STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) program. Have a map of the area you are visiting in case you get disorientated as well. 

Understand Local Culture and Customs

You should always respect local culture and customs; failing to do so could land you in unnecessary hot water. You may want to consult with locals before taking their photograph to make sure that you aren’t disobeying unwritten (or written) laws. 

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

As a tourist toting around expensive equipment, you are somewhat vulnerable. Try to maintain an awareness of your surroundings. Carry your equipment in front of you as opposed to on your back or shoulders, and consider investing in slash-resistant camera straps. Be mindful of purse snatchers on motorcycles riding too close to the sidewalk or pickpockets distracting you in busy streets, train stations or other public places where there are masses of people.   

Join Us for a Photography Adventure in 2019

  • Southern Colorado High Country – July (2 spots left!)
  • Oman – Late Fall 2019

Visit our Workshops & Photo Tours page to tell us which trip you’re interested in, and we’ll send you more info!
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