Ok, so you've made that leap of faith and actually find yourself in a foreign country and ready to take all the noteworthy photography you've been dreaming of. Months of waiting, saving, and busting yo' booty has finally paid off.
This is your moment. Camera in hand, butterflies in your belly....and TOURISTS EVERYWHERE. Like I mean everywhere-left, right, totally and completely in your every shot. Oh and you have no idea how to get back to your air bnb, and where the f*** can you get some wifi around here?!? Your phone is about to die, no one speaks english, and you're quickly realizing that everyone online who traveled here before you-well they totally withheld sharing this stressful portion of their trip abroad.
Well don't you worry my friend-I got you. Here's some tips on how to travel abroad to a foreign country as a photographer (or blogger):
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Like really though. Go on Google maps and Trip Advisor-figure out how far away your destination is from your hotel. Is there parking available? Do you have to pay to get into the national park? Do they charge for the bathroom? You're going to get hungry-are there cafes nearby that you could swing by on your way from the Eiffel tower to the Louvre? Sure you could wing it in most European countries-but most likely you wont have internet service to 'yelp' something, you're on a time crunch, or your destination is a lot harder to get to then you thought. The more you research in advance the more smooth your traveling experience will be-which means less stress 🙌
2. GET THERE EARLY. I honestly can't stress this enough if you're traveling abroad solely to capture photography/create content. Most tourists sleep in and get a late start to their mornings-because they are on vacation!! If you want that epic shot of Big Ben without all the selfie sticks in the background-get there as soon as the sun rises. Literally every time I travel abroad, I'm up at 5am, out the door by 6am, and on location by 7am (or earlier). No tourists in sight, I have the whole monument to myself, and oh yeah the place is filled with that beautiful sunrise lighting 🤤 You're welcome.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR LIGHTING. Ok so let's be honest, maybe you can't always get to your location during that golden hour of sunrise/sunset lighting. You are traveling abroad, and well, shit happens. That doesn't mean you can't make amazing photography!! It just means you have to get creative with your camera settings and angles. Don't get scared of harsh lighting, you could make a really dynamic photo just by playing with shadows and getting artsy with your composition. Backlight your subject, find a shaded area, or go inside and play with artificial lighting. You have no excuses 😉
4. DON'T FORGET. The most obvious things to bring-but I forget back up batteries, memory cards, and phone chargers alllllllll the time. Charge them while you sleep, set a reminder on your phone, bring extras, and back up your photos. I always bring two hard drives with me while I travel just in case some terrible freak accident happens to one of my drives-I still have all my precious photos saved on the second drive. Don't think it won't happen to you-because it will eventually. I've cried too many times over a crashed hard drive and if I can save you the tears, please BACK UP YO' PHOTOS.
So there you have it-some sound pieces of advice for creating content while abroad. Have you ever traveled abroad? Or ran into any of these situations? Hit me up on Instagram and let me know your experience! @champagneunicorns
Here it is gang: my list of best places to get that perfect photo in Iceland. And all that extra advice that comes with traveling to a foreign country with gear. 😬
1. BLACK SAND BEACH. Favorite place to photograph portraits by far. Its a scene out of a movie: long stretch of sand as far as you can see, with this giant cliff over-looking the ocean. The side of the cliff has these amazing hexagon shaped stones-and hundreds of puffins sit on the top of the peak. I will recommend though getting there super early before the tourists because we had a hard time getting our shots in-between their selfie photos. LOL
2. KRYSUVIK-SELTUN GEOTHERMAL SPRINGS. The colors of this place make me feel like I'm on a Star Wars set. Not to mention the natural steam that rises out of the springs-perfect for shooting high fashion or moody portraits. I will warn you though-the sulfur makes it smell pretty terrible (but so worth dealing with to get that shot).
3. BLUE LAGOON. So this isn't somewhere I would recommend planning a fully produced fashion shoot-however defs go check it out, get yourself an insta' photo, enjoy a facial and order a cocktail. Lockers are available, so you can store your expensive camera and phone safely while you enjoy the lagoon free from feeling like you constantly have to watch your stuff. There's also a lot of people who visit, so expect tourists in the background of your photo. Buy your ticket in advanced though, you won't get in if you just show up.
4. LAVA FIELDS. Basically lava fields are everywhere. The whole country is an island made from lava. Drive out from Rekyavik to the Golden Circle and you'll pass by plenty of pull out spots to take pictures. The cool thing about Iceland is that there really isn't fencing blocking you from just hiking into the wild from the main road. Just don't be dumb and litter or trample over the nature. Moss takes HUNDREDS of years to grow.
5. JOKULSARLON-GLACIER LAGOON. This was my 'silent heart' moment. Everything was quiet and I felt so small and in awe of the giant glaciers surrounding us. Not a lot of tourists travel out to the Glacier because it's almost 6 hours away from Rekjavik. So if you're up for the drive, I highly recommend visiting. It's an experience I'll always remember.
So, here's my extra credit I'm writing into this blog post: traveling with photography gear in Iceland. Be prepared for the headache. Weather in Iceland is UNPREDICTABLE. The running joke with the country is, "If you don't like the weather in Iceland, just wait 5 minutes". Seriously-don't even bother checking your weather app! All you can do is plan ahead and pack everything you might need, aka: waterproof gear. Spray that water repellant on yo' shoes, backpack, purse, jacket- whatever, it's going to rain. Wear layers, comfortable hiking shoes, gloves, scarf etc. Get your gear insured before you leave and spend the extra cash on a waterproof backpack and memory card case.
Are you traveling to Iceland soon? Drop me a DM on instagram if you have any travel/photo questions-I always love sharing my experience 💕 @champagneunicorns
When we entered the Amala we were immediately blown away-bamboo lined all the walls and a quiet pool of trickling water led us straight to our villa. Our room had an outdoor area that consisted of a beautiful stone carved bathtub, jacuzzi spa, lounge chairs, and an outside shower/sink area for getting ready. Oh and did I mention the shower also doubled as a sauna? Yeah. We felt like queens. Inside was just as lovely-with all the amenities-TV, bathroom, wifi, desk, and the most coziest beds. And air conditioning so perfect after a long days travel and shooting in the heat. We felt totally pampered-breakfast outside surrounded by water and flowers-yoga in their studio-and a full body massage that put me in a deep trance.
After our stay at the Amala we headed into town to stay at the IZE. This hotel is located so perfectly close to all the markets/restaurants/shopping in Seminyak. I highly recommend staying here if you're in the area and are looking for more of a 'westerner' type feel to your hotel experience. The room was completely indoors, filled to perfection with cool air conditioning, and staff beyond friendly. They also have a fun rooftop bar and pool area that over looks the whole city area. Its the perfect spot if you're looking to enjoy yourself some shopping and R&R :)
I think I'm going to lay my cards on the table and just say that Iceland is my favorite place to visit in the world thus far. Our experience in Iceland was literal magic-but that doesn't go without a huge thank you to Icelandic Air Hotels, because otherwise we probably would have been sleeping outside in the cold inside a tent. Don't get me wrong-I LOVE camping and experiencing nature first hand-but this trip to Iceland was not completely a 'dirty boots' type adventure. We were shooting almost everyday and I had to keep my crew warm and happy with a fresh bed, shower, and coffee every day. Enter Icelandic Air, Reykjavik Marina.
Our hotel was set in Reykjavik-the capital of Iceland-overlooking the ocean and very close to all the downtown shopping/restaurants. The architecture and art of Iceland holds a very Scandinavian influence mixed with medieval roots-bold colored cement buildings mixing with grass roofs set in the farm lands. Reykjavik Marina had a mix of modern and contemporary accents in their design-very cozy, warm, and filled with fun art installations. Definetly worth a check out if you ever find yourself in Iceland-or least drop by for a fish n'chips in their restaurant :)