Your photography gear packing list for a cycling and photography tour is pretty simple. It's not really any different than what to pack for normal photography tours. Here are the photography essentials to bring in your travel gear and what to leave at home.
When you're done here visit the travel planning page for other planning tips and articles to prepare for your cycling vacation.
Make decisions about your photography gear packing list in three ways:
- What kind of photos do I want to get, or what kind of photos will be available during this trip?
- What lens/lenses would I need for coverage based on the photos I want to get on this trip?
- What specialty lens would I like to have in my bag: portrait, architecture, landscape, etc?
- A sturdy bag to carry your camera, lenses and tripod
- At least one camera, with full manual controls preferred
- Wide angle lens: 10-16mm range for APSC bodies or 16-35mm range for full frame bodies
- Standard range zoom: 24-105mm
- Mid range zoom: 70-200mm
- Camera strap
- Specialty lens like an 85 or 90mm prime for portraits or a 35 or 55mm prime for street and general walk-around compositions.
- Neutral Density Filters - at least 3200 and 10000 stop filters and lens mounting system for lenses you want to use them on.
- Tripod, with a head and camera mounting plate of course
- Memory cards and card reader
- Extra batteries plus battery charger and cables
- Laptop with your choice of photo editing software
- Backup hard drive or something like Gnarbox. 500GB of space is plenty for photos on a 2-3 week trip. If you are doing a lot of video then you might want a 1TB hard drive.
- Remote shutter release or intervalometer
- Lens cleaning cloths
- Small rocket blower or sensor dust cleaner
- Waterproof baggies for rain or sand conditions
- Flash - personally I don’t like it for travel photos but I also know a lot of pros who do travel with it.
Recommended items not to bring
- Off camera flash
- Light modifiers
While a light/reflector disc is far less intrusive than a flash; and can be a good choice in a pinch, both are distracting and detract from the authentic nature of making good travel photos. You don’t want a subject looking unnatural because they’re paying attention to what you’re doing with your gear instead of just having a normal conversation with you. I am most definitely not a gear head. I don’t take anything just so I can look I’m a photographer. In addition, I like to travel light whenever possible. I only bring a custom piece of kit if I feel like I can create a unique photo with it because of the location I’m traveling to. That includes super zoom lenses, flash, light modifiers, drone, etc.
Photography Gear Packing List on a Supported Cycling Tour
As a general rule you want to bring lenses to cover the range of photos you will commonly shoot. Always consider the weight of your gear and whether or not you really need to have a lens with you. You don’t have to bring everything just because you own it. You might bring a specialty prime lens like a 35mm or 85mm instead of a long range zoom or vise versa.
Don’t plan to photograph during the rides. If you wish to take photos during rides, a small pocket camera or even phone camera is recommended as part of your cycling kit. The support vehicle carries all gear for us, and while they are with our group at all times we don't stop during the rides to take photos. We photograph before and after the rides; not during the rides.
When time, conditions and location are right; we will stop and take turns photographing each other on our bikes. If you’re riding in an exotic location with other photographers, of course you should return home with some professional photos of yourself on your cycling vacation right?
If you’re accustomed to practicing your photography in a studio setting with access to every tool you own, travel photography might be a new challenge for you. Know your gear and do a dry run. Pack a bag as if you’re preparing for this tour and then go out and shoot for the day with just that bag. When you're on tour it's time to enjoy using your gear, so make sure you've learned how to use it and know what to expect from it before you arrive.