Travel Tips for Nature Photographers (Part 4)

Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag on luggage wheels is relatively inconspicuous and looks a lot like an ordinary roller bag.

Travel Neat

Story and photo by Kathy Adams Clark

I’ve learned over the years that airline employees seem to ignore “neat” travelers.  The employees at the check-in counter and gate tend to look right past a passenger with a small backpack and legal-size roller bag.  It seems like every business traveler has them.  For females, sometimes it’s that stylish tote and roller bag.  My camera gear now mimics that business look so I don’t standout during check-in or at the gate.

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Travel Tips for Nature Photographers (Part 3)

Your bags are packed and you're ready for your trip. How can you make your travel experience stress free?

Your bags are packed and you’re ready for your trip. How can you make your travel experience stress free?

The days when travel was glamorous are long gone.  Nowadays, heading to the airport is more likely to elicit a sigh of nervousness or frustration than it is to make you purr with pleasure.  With all the gear we need to bring along, what can photographers do to make the travel experience a little safer and less stressful?

From the Editor: We recently started posting a series of travel tips about making the life of the traveling photographer smoother and easier. This is the third in that series. You can find part 1 and part 2 in the blog archives.  In this installment, NANPA members Gustavo Costa and Donald Dymer talk about traveling safely and protecting your gear. If you have a favorite tip, share it with us! Send it to publications@nanpa.org and we’ll post it in a future article.

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What Not to Bring through Airport Security

Home-made bounce card on flash.

Home-made bounce card on flash.

From the Editor:  We recently started posting a series of travel tips about making the life of the traveling photographer smoother and easier.  In this installment, F. M. Kearney’s inner MacGyver inventiveness comes back to bite him. If you have a favorite tip, share it with us! Send it to publications@nanpa.org and we’ll post it in a future article.

Story and photographs by F. M. Kearney

Life can sometimes be a challenge. Much of it is beyond our control, but every now and then, you can do things to make the journey a little easier. Whenever possible, I try to streamline repetitive tasks. For instance, I always keep a self-addressed, stick-on label in my wallet in the event I need to fill out a form or have something delivered. Each time I hand one over, people marvel at my ingenuity in quickly getting through what could otherwise be a time-consuming process. I see it more as common sense. If I know there’s a high likelihood that I might need something shipped or delivered, why would I want to waste time by repeatedly writing out my name and address on one of their blank labels?

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Travel Tips for Nature Photographers (Part 1)

Your bags are packed and you're ready for your trip. How can you make your airport experience stress free?

Your bags are packed and you’re ready for your trip. How can you make your airport experience stress free?

The days when travel was glamorous are long gone.  Nowadays, heading to the airport is more likely to elicit a sigh of nervousness or frustration than it is to make you purr with pleasure.  With all the gear we need to bring along, what can photographers do to make the airport experience a little less stressful?

From the Editor: This is the first in a series of travel tips from NANPA members. If you have a favorite tip, share it with us! Send it to publications@nanpa.org and we’ll post it in a future article.

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Photographer Arrives.  Gear Doesn’t.

Gate checking photography gear when flying.

Having to gate check check your photography gear is a traveling photographer’s nightmare.

Have you heard about the award-winning professional photographer who lost $13,000 worth of photo gear while flying from Chicago to DC?

Gate agents at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport insisted that photographer Michelle Frankfurter gate check her carry-on roller bag, which was full of her equipment.  After arguing and pleading her case, and against her better judgement, she complied.

Somewhere between leaving the gate at O’Hare and arriving at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, the bag disappeared and has not been found.

Most US airlines cap baggage liability at $3,500.  What’s even worse, Frankfurter’s photographer’s insurance had lapsed!

We’ve all heard horror stories about lost luggage or damaged contents.  There’s even been a You Tube music video about an airline breaking a musician’s guitar!  How can you prevent it happening to you?

We all have our own strategies for traveling safely with our gear, and there is a whole range of roller bags and backpacks designed specifically for air travel.  I have a photo backpack that’s compatible with airline carry-on size limitations.  While I’ve seen gate agents requiring passengers to check bags, I’ve never seen them make people check reasonably-sized backpacks.  I have frequent flier accounts and airline credit cards with the two carriers I most often use, which allow me to board before overhead bin space gets scarce.

But what do you do if you have more gear than can fit in a backpack, or if your gear is too heavy or bulky?  What’s your travel strategy?

One other thing: Insurance.  Pro photographers rely on their gear to make a living.  No gear equals no income.  Losing your equipment can be catastrophic for amateurs, too.  Do you have insurance on your gear?  Are you aware that your homeowner’s policy may not cover all your gear?  Did you know that NANPA members can get special rates on equipment, professional, travel and health insurance?  Sign in to the members’ area to learn more.

Being a little OCD about insurance can be a life saver in a situation like this.