A Comprehensive Guide to Traveling as a Photographer

A Comprehensive Guide to Traveling as a Photographer

Traveling with photography gear can be rather nerve-wracking and a bit of a logistical nightmare. Fstoppers alumni Clay Cook wrote an ultra-comprehensive guide based on his extensive experience traveling for work, and he offers numerous tips and guidelines for helping you get to your destination and enjoy your trip as much as possible, while accomplishing all your professional goals.

Clay Cook, the star of our tutorial "Fashion and Editorial Portrait Photography: Lighting, Retouching, and Shooting for Magazines With Clay Cook," authored the guide based on his long experience traveling for his professional work with tons of gear. One thing that has always helped me is to purchase priority boarding. You should always carry on all your fragile equipment (especially camera bodies and lenses), but overhead compartment space tends to be limited and is normally on a first come, first serve basis. Getting priority boarding will allow you early access to that space and help ensure that you can properly transport your gear. Even if I end up on a less than full flight, just having the peace of mind of not wondering if I will be asked to gate-check my expensive gear makes a huge difference. You can read Clay's full guide here.

Log in or register to post comments


Sergio Miranda's picture

A mix of paranoia and the male version of Monica from Friends...what a level of obsession man! tags on the pills! Join all the lounges? print everything? I'm sorry for the person that has to date this guy, I'm sure he's more neat than marie condo.

Some valuable information from years of experience. I feel like two thirds of it could’ve been edited out though. This post can also help with traveling with gear and its documentation. https://antoniocuellarphotography.com/photographers-travel-advice/

Clay Cook's picture

Thanks for reading! These aren't designed to relate to everyone, it's ala carte. Bottom line: Its not paranoia. A lackadaisical approach in a conflict zone or a dangerous area in a developing country will put you at risk. Obsession for safety, efficiency, speed, all traveling while comfortable, absolutely.

Robert Nurse's picture

A lot of that information is good to keep in mind as a regular tourist. You can never be too safe/secure.

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you friend! You're right!

Clay, I am 100K a year traveler and I recognize the real deal here. Of COURSE label the pills in the bag. There are a number of reasons for it the least of which is not having to think after 14 hours travel and you only having 4 hours to hit the hay and be at work. The main reason is when customs picks you and it will be much easier to go through the questioning and testing. I have switched from my blessed Airport Security bag which for no good reason won't fit on certain large jets, yet a one inch shorter bag will. I've moved to a couple of the Think Tank 21" bags which are great but that Airport Security was perfection for years. Tip for those TSA combo locks: People will open a TSA combo lock at the hotel and leave it on the combination. All a thief has to do is check the open lock bag for the number and he can use it to open all the others. We use different numbers like you do (based on a formula) but if all your combo locks have the same number then spin the dials on the open locks before you leave the room to go work. Nothing you wrote about is overboard, or too much, or crazy. Travel for work is a fun game and every step you take to make it dependable, easier and smarter is a positive. Rock on!

Clay Cook's picture

Thank you for the comment, friend! Safe travels out there, Jim!