A tourist is a fellow who drives thousands of miles so he can be photographed standing in front of his car.”Emile Ganest
Funny quote.. but do not be that person! Get out of the car and explore whats around you. And do not be part of the herd. Find a different angle, different perspective, different location.
For a road trip, you really do need much gear anymore. I did a trip of 1,500 miles in my Tesla and it was a lot of fun. The newer phones have some very good cameras built in and with a few tricks, they take excellent pictures. All the pictures below were taken with one of my iPhones.
You need some basic stuff for photography on a road trip. Chargers, adapters, a couple of small power bricks can be a lifesaver when on a tour and the phone starts to chew through the battery. I have a small travel tripod, a sharpe marker, a bit of gaffers tape and a decent selfie stick. I’m generally not a fan of the selfi stick but they do come in handy at times and so I would recommend one to be used with common sense and courtesy. Why I say to bring tripods, gaffer tape and such is a whole another article about how to take creative pictures with a smart phone. There are all kinds of hack using different filters that you can tape onto the phone, different gels and other cool things. But we are talking about road trips today and a key here is to travel light. My one concession to extra hardware on a road trip is a pair of Moment glass lenses and the adapter case.
In the gallery below, who knew there was a metal T-Rex at the souvenir store? Or a Smokey the bear :). This store was by itself and a bit off the road. I had to make a U turn just to get to it. I’m glad I did. I ended up finding a cool opal ring for a gift, some hot sauces and some fun pictures.
Sometimes, unplanned stops can lead to dividends like a killer cheese melt sandwich that I didnt know I needed to eat 😀
Road trips can be short.. or long.. or very long. This is where you want to be something of a “Boy Scout” by ways of “Be Prepared”. Nothing ruins the good vibs of a road trip than sitting on the side of the road with a broken car that could have been prevented or easily fixed.
A road trip does not have to be a long multi-day affair. The pictures below were from a day trip to the Monterey bay Aquarium a few years back and I took them with an iPhone 4S.
Which brings up a point about road trips. Use what you have and do not blow a bunch of money on stuff you probably wont end up using. While on the trip is not the time to learn a new phone or camera or accessories. Bring what you know and use it effectively. Besides, the road trip is not really about geeking out, it’s about time with the family, time for yourself and maybe some time just to get away from the day to day grind.
This was a very fun trip to San Diego to see a real circus. Again, this was a day trip with the family. I used the slow shutter speed to my advantage by waiting for the performer to hold still, take my picture and let the rings blur a bit. The added motion really adds a nice hook to the image.
This image was taken on a 1/2 marathon “road trip” 🙂 I took a few moments to catch my breath and snap a pictures as I walked along. I intentionally shot into the morning sun to get the high contrast image with the mist.
My last four years of road trips have been 100% smartphone photography. To the degree that I have sold off most of my DSLR gear I used to drag along with me. On my last trip which are the first few pictures of Sedona, I had my Canon G16 camera packed and I never unpacked it. Not once. I used my iPhone Xr the entire time and I am perfectly happy with the results.
When you take your pictures, make sure to include yourself a few times, the family will appreciate having your picture with them despite being the photographer. Trust me.. it matters to your SO and family to see YOU in the pictures too 🙂
Road trips offer many, many opportunities for creating art. Often times while waiting to eat or go into some place, I will just take shots of whatever is around me. Much of the time, I find great images in the plants around where I am. It is all about looking at your environment with a creative eye. Often times, I will intentionally shoot images for cropping for phone background. By playing around with different modes, I have learned that you can get some pretty awesome floral images using portrait mode which is intended for people but works really well for artistic shots.
This article just scratches the surface of road trip photography. I hope you try a few things and put on your creative hat while traveling around. Even if it’s just to a local eatery to have a dinner. You can find and create art just about anywhere when you leave the house for the road regardless of how short or long the trip is. Enjoy the trip!