I enjoy traveling, I enjoy photography, and I enjoy planning my photography trips. I admit, I'm a compulsive planner when it comes to travel, though not elsewhere in my life. I've learned how to wring the absolute most out of my trip; this is the planning process that works for me.
Pick a location: I have a list of places I want to shoot, a list that only gets longer. I have found that photographing a location makes me appreciate it more than if I just visited. I fell in love with the Southwest after I went to Arizona for a conference and had a free day to shoot in the Tucson area. I had been to the Southwest a number of times, but having a camera helped me really see it.
Pick a time frame: Most people take vacations in summer; I prefer to travel when most others have to stay at home (i.e., after school starts). First, it will probably be less expensive. In many areas hotels want to fill empty rooms and they offer attractive rates during the off-season. Since lodging may be my single greatest expense, this can make a real difference in my travel budget (my hotel bill is often half what it would be during high season.) Airfares may be a bit lower as well, although I'm not sure I save much. Car rental rates are usually lower. Finally, and maybe most importantly, popular destinations will often have many fewer visitors, which can mean better photo opportunities and quieter locations.
The cooler seasons provide other advantages. Winter skies are usually free of haze and the days are shorter. That may sound like a disadvantage; however if I'm shooting sunrises, sunsets, and throughout the day in between, it's nice to have a shorter day. Otherwise, I'm getting up at 0400 to catch the sunrise and returning to my hotel sixteen hours later after sunset and maybe some night shooting. I've done it, but I prefer a more leisurely day. Finally, because the winter sun is lower on the horizon I can get some interesting light and shadows, and backlit scenes that would otherwise be flat and uninteresting.
|One of SunSurveyor's Screens|