Your bags are packed. Your itinerary is printed out. You have your passport in hand and your climbing gear ready to go. By the time you are ready to leave for your big adventure, you’ve probably just about thought of everything. However, it’s surprising how many people overlook the one travelling essential regardless of whether you’ll be hiking K2 or kayaking through Chile. The camera can be a traveler’s best friend upon return home because when you’re back in your old familiar apartment, wishing you had another plane ticket in your hand, those photographs will at least get you through the night.
There are several different kinds of adventure photographers, namely four that come to mind. Below, I’ve outline the pros and cons of each type of photography in an effort to assist those soon-to-be and would-be travelers out there in search of what kind of cameras will suit their needs.
The Point & Shoot
This is the easiest, most versatile, and certainly most foolproof way to take photographs regardless of the adventures you have planned. Even cheap point-and-shoot cameras can produce great pictures when put on those Easy Bake? settings that do all the work for you. Furthermore, P&S cameras are light, reliable, virtually universally understood (something to consider if you’re looking to have an Inuit family snap a pic of you and your buds or looking for a camera shop in Hong Kong), and replaceable without too much damage to your wallet in case of flooding, dropping, acts of war, etc. So why wouldn’t everyone just go with the first P&S they can find? Some of us truly enjoy the more involved intricacies of getting the camera settings just right to capture unbelievable scenes think Ansel Adams.
The National Geographic
There are a lot of ways to capture moments through a lens, but the National Geographic tries to capture more than just a pretty scene; they capture the essence of a particular shot. And whether it’s a photograph of snow capped mountains or a raging river, the National Geographic always makes you feel like you were right there in that scene. These photos are masterpieces, but to accomplish such beauty, it often takes patience, money, and some heavy equipment. It’s a decision between how you want your travelling experience to go and what you want to bring home with you. One more thing to consider is that while all that heavy equipment might be okay for the regular traveler, an adventure traveler might have a difficult time carrying all those cameras, batteries, and tripods when planning an international skydive trip.
Sometimes, photos are just not enough. I’ve done my fair share of traveling with photographers of all styles and skill levels, but I’m always in awe of the ones who take it a step further and either pack an HD video capable DSLR or an entirely separate HD video camcorder. This isn’t just about photography, folks! This is about creating a movie to share stories from the road, interview locals, and capture breathtaking, 360-degree scenes that the rest of us can only dream about it. Furthermore, this requires a significant amount of editing once you’re situated back home, definitely more so than even a professional photographer shooting in RAW. However, if you’re looking to bring back more than a photo album, consider a lightweight but powerful HD handheld video camcorder to bring with you.
These days, all you really need to capture photos on the go, whether you’re suspended from a zip line or trekking through a mountain range, is something most us already have, a phone with a camera on it. Even better, most smartphones now have better cameras than many point-and-shoot cameras on the market. And even better still, those handy little smartphones will give you the ability to edit and share your pictures before you even return to camp. You really can’t beat the portability and ease that smartphones offer any traveler these days, but especially the adventurous travelers. The only downside is that if you truly take the minimalist approach and that smartphone is the only camera and the only backup of your precious photos, you’re basically tempting Murphy’s Law.