Top 10 Things to Bring on Your Next Photo Adventure

There’s always something exciting about planning your next photo adventure. Whether it’s that weekend getaway to your favorite location or a once in a lifetime trip on the other side of the world, having all of the gear we need is the key to happy photography and successful images!

So in the spirit of David Letterman’s return to the stage, this is my top ten for “Things to Bring” on your next great photo excursion.

  1. Back-up camera body: “It would be like going horseback riding without a horse.” Accidents happen, electronics aren’t foolproof and thieves will never return the goods. You may think none of these things will happen to you and they may not, but if and when they do you’ll be one happy camper when a stand by is ready to stand in and allow you to continue to work. The replacement doesn’t necessarily have to be as expensive as your pride and joy. In fact, many full-frame camera-using professionals own a cropped-sensor camera body as a backup to take advantage of the perceived increased in focal length, too. For more information regarding sensor size vs. focal length, click here.
  2. Carrying case: Whether it’s a backpack or shoulder bag made specifically for photo gear, make sure it’s comfortable, protective and easy to use! And if your adventure takes you through New York City, don’t forget to stop by B&H Photo/Video to see and try on nearly everything that’s available on the planet.
  3. Spare batteries and memory cards: “Murphy’s Law” states that “what can go wrong, will go wrong.” That covers a lot of stuff, and your batteries and memory cards are not exempt. Carry extras and keep them a safe place, because loss and failure are written in this law.
  4. Bulb Blower: Believe me you do not want to get back from your shooting vacation to find dust spots on all your image files. Yes, software can assist you in cleaning this up, but it takes time, and depending on how long you have been gone and how many images you’ve taken, the processing can be daunting. Yes, all DSLR and mirrorless cameras these days have an auto-clean mode built in, but this function isn’t always successful. The simplest cleaning accessory to bring with you is a professional bulb blower or syringe. Click here for a great video tutorial that Forest Chaput de Saintonge posted this February on how to use the blower and other tools for more stubborn sensor dust.
  5. Polarizing filter: If you only have one filter in your bag it should be this one. Polarization provides so many great enhancements to your landscape and architecture scenes that it can’t be underestimated. For example, the filter can darken pale blue skies, and remove haze and reflections on surfaces like windows, foliage, metal and rock, plus even more!. These filters can also function like a neutral density filter too by allowing longer shutter speeds of up to two stops. This is super sweet when shooting moving water like streams, waterfalls or the geysers in Yellowstone National Park and Iceland. Here’s a good buying guide from

without polarizer

with polarizer
  1. Remote shutter release: If you’re photo adventure includes any landscape or architecture photography, a remote shutter release is one of the most important little tools in your bag. You can shoot exactly when you want without touching the camera, and as a result, tack sharp images will fill up your memory cards. I’ve seen plenty of these fail too, so don’t forget a second one.
  2. Gaffers tape (high-class duct tape): G.M. Wellacher said it best: “One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go and duct tape to make things stop.” Gaffers tape is even better than duct tape, but it won’t mar your stuff! It has saved my rear end and others during workshops – temporarily fixing everything from tripods and lens hoods to sunglasses, backpacks and hiking poles. The tape even worked on someone’s heel blisters one time! Amazing stuff so don’t forget it!
  3. PhotoPills App: It’s 10 buckaroos and worth every penny. Here’s just a short list of what the app can assist you with; exposure, depth of field, time lapse, sun position, moon position and phases for any time? and oh there’s so much more! Click here to go to the PhotoPills website.
  4. Food and water: Your physical well-being depends on it! And emotionally no one likes to be hangry or dehydrated. If you’re happy, everyone is happy!
  5. Good friends: Sharing the experience just makes everything that much more awesome!

And what would a Top Ten List be without the bonus?

  1. Glass half full attitude: No matter how much you plan, things can go awry – whether it’s Mother Nature that throws you a curve ball or something else out of your control – be flexible, adapt and smile. Your photographs will show it, too!



  • Doug Johnson

    Doug Johnson is a Colorado native now living in Missoula, Montana. Before a life-changing pursuit of photographic art, he was an outdoor educator for more than 20 years, passionately teaching people backcountry skills in navigation, mountaineering, avalanche awareness and wilderness first aid. Since graduating from RMSP's Summer Intensive program in 1996, Doug's work has covered many diverse projects in the documentary, commercial, fine art and educational fields. Assignments have taken him from coyote shooting in Wyoming to the last stages of a woman’s life to the graffiti-covered alleys and abandoned buildings of Denver. He is currently involved in an ongoing project called Art Music, which fuses the art of photography with live musical performance. His educational philosophy is fun, intuitive and full of creative persistence. No matter where you are in your photographic journey, Doug's balance of the aesthetic with the technical can help you further express your unique vision.