Pack Light, Shoot Well! Travel and Blogging Camera Strategies

Elaine Masters, author & freelance writer and IFWTWA member shares her valuable knowledge and insights during the #IFWTWA2019 Conference Workshop: Making and Editing Videos: Demystifying Video Storytelling - Shortcuts for Travel Writers. 

Elaine Masters taking pictures with gimble and cell phone in Petra, JordanPetra, Jordan ~ Image by Elaine Masters 

As we all know, the weight of our luggage and travel gear has become a big issue when packing. With baggage fees tacked on, it can be quite expensive.  Elaine Masters is an avid photographer, videographer and travel writer. She has created a step-by-step guide on her best-practices when packing for a trip.

What to bring, what is essential and what can just be left at home? We all want to bring the gear, the lenses, lights and memory cards. But what are the “must haves?” Also, what to carry-on vs. pack in the suitcase?  There is a wealth of information and tips on just how to navigate this process. Thanks, Elaine, for sharing your tips today at our professional development conference. For those who could not attend the Conference, here are some of Elaine's tips and strategies.

Pack Light, Shoot Well! Travel and Blogging Camera Strategies

Packing light is an eternal challenge. Reams have been written about how to roll your clothes, how to use packing cubes and what roller bag or backpack is best. Add a bagful of camera and video gear and you have even more weight to juggle. Taking pictures or video to share with family or on social media is a huge task on its own whether you blog or not. As a freelance travel writer, videographer and after nearly a decade blogging, I’ve struggled with how to do it best. I’ve also spoken with and observed other writer’s strategies, which blogging camera they use, and what other gear is in their carry-on.

Elaine Masters taking image of plaque on stone wall in South Pass City, Wyoming Elaine Masters, South Pass City, Wyoming 

Luckily the overall trend is towards lighter, more durable, and faster gear. Battery life keeps getting better too. My goal is to keep the tech to a minimum so I can travel light and stay flexible; to capture decent images and video on the fly. I don’t claim to be a pro but work to document moments and love video storytelling. How to do it best is an evolving task. Here are some tips that I hope will be helpful. Feel free to gloss over the geeky parts!

What is your end goal?

Not every traveler is interested in toting around the best blogging camera but no one, amateur or professional, wants to invest the time, effort and expense into taking vacation or assignment shots then end up disappointed or worse, without pictures and video to match the experiences.

Decide how you want to share your shots first. Are you only posting on Facebook or are you building up a YouTube channel? That helps determine what gear goes with you. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have options for uploading ‘natively’ onto each platform. Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook you can share on both instantly which is a time saver but much depends on your goal. Facebook no longer shares every video link (especially if you don’t pay for advertising,) so uploading onto the platform directly is best if you want more of your friends to see your videos. I understand that Facebook Live videos are shared the most (Facebook is after the Tik Tok and Snap Chat crowd) but I’m perhaps too vain or too much of a control freak to go live – yet.

Much has been written about which format, shape, is best. Do you shoot landscape, vertical or square? Juggling between those is a headache, so I suggest deciding which works best for you and sticking with that. I love framing my videos as landscapes and post mostly on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook. However, I shoot photos with an eye to posting in square format for Instagram (wider shots for editing later) and when I think about it shoot video vertically for Instagram stories

Elaine Masters taking image why scuba divingElaine Masters Underwater 

Plan by Destination

If you’re taking a cruise you’ll unload your luggage once and not have to worry about it again. That’s a luxury I haven’t indulged in much (see this post about my short Galapagos cruise.) Will you be trekking with a backpack? Scuba diving in the tropics? Adjustments need to be made to protect your gear and take only what you need to keep the weight down for comfort and to avoid extra baggage fees.

A few years ago I had the great luck to travel to Lembeh Straits in North Sulawesi with a group of die-hard underwater photographers. The resort had a sweet, dedicated camera room close to the dive dock. Each diver had their own table with electrical outlets and shelves in an air controlled environment. Several dive buddies hauled heavy camera cases and multiple cameras. Over five days I watched the dance as they serviced their gear, switched out batteries and memory cards, lenses and lights. By the end of the trip my boyfriend’s camera was soggy and undependable. He started diving with his GoPro and a single light attachment. He loved the freedom from toting all the gear and got some great images. Were they National Geographic worthy? No, but that wasn’t his goal and the pictures grace the walls of our home nonetheless.

Elaine Masters Digital Nomad

Elaine Masters Digital Nomad 

IFWTWA appreciates Elaine allowing us to reprint a portion of her article here. Discover more of her expert advice as she delves into the following topics in her article, Pack Light, Shoot Well! Travel and Blogging Camera Strategies published on her travel blog:

  • Who’s going with you?
  • What are you shooting?
  • Are you shooting inside or out?
  • Professional vs. blogging Camera and Cell Cameras
  • Gear
  • Software and Editing
  • Audio
  • Editing Software – A Minimalist’s List

You will also enjoy Elaine's article, 10 Reasons to be a well traveled global citizen.

Elaine Masters AvatarElaine Masters
If a passion for culinary connections, unusual destinations, and soul-touching, conscious travel excites you, Elaine is ready to develop stories, videos and pictures for your readers.

Editor of, author, and a freelance writer, Elaine has written for magazines, print and online as well as travel outlets. Embracing an active Boomer lifestyle, she plays well with others - no matter their age or ethnicity. She blends several past careers into her stories and in over 100 YouTube videos, incorporating award-winning audio skills as well as voice over and graphic design into her story-telling (she produced the Indie Excellence Audiobook - Drivetime Yoga and won a Woman in Radio and TV Commendation for the short radio play, The Postcard). An international scuba diver and seafood fanatic, she agrees with Helen Keller (who she once played onstage) that, “Life’s an adventure or nothing.”

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