Travel Security and Research
We're gonna be carrying expensive gear and some pretty bad places it from time to time how do I take care of myself? Well, here's, what I use I bring this is kind of surprising I bring a taser with me throwing stars num chucks and I always take guns lots of guns wherever I go okay, so obviously this is not something that's really acceptable for the traveling photographer and what we're going to be talking about is much more mundane than exciting gear like that we're talking about simple things like putting luggage tags on your luggage now the thief wants to steal your suitcase fine, but if it gets lost, let somebody be honest have a good quality name tag on it that people can get in contact with you and obviously emails a great way to contact uh, you know, putting your email on there that you can access from anywhere carrying your money in a way that isn't super obvious but there's different sort of fanny packs and neck pouches and all sorts of things, and to be honest with you, I real...
ly don't like any of them. I think I brought my travel wallet see if I have this in here pardon me while I rummage is it over there? I guess I didn't pack it along in any case this is what my wallet looks like, I I'm not a good seamstress but I did so my own wallet together problem I have with most wallet says they're very, very bulky and so first off get rid of the shopping card uh get rid of anything that you don't need out of your wallet except for the few basics one or two credit cards your I d and local cash maybe some of the other your home currency carry the absolute minimum and that way you could keep it in a very small wallet you don't wanna have the giant george costanza wallet for all my seinfeld fans out there you know sitting back pocket here it's a woman you're our miss social sore from carrying the heavy person you want to just trim everything down a small as it could be for your luggage using the locks these with locks that they are the only people that can legally steal your stuff that are earlier I can get into your stuff is the a at the airports but this is generally going to deter a thief if there's two bags and one bag doesn't have a lock on it which one are you going to go rummage through first and so it's a small token of effort that you're putting into protecting your belongings and if nothing else is going to keep the zipper's from separating and opening up so use him if necessary use him as a cz much as possible obviously you're going to be bringing passports if you're travelling to a different country, bring your local ideas. Well, is any sort of good documented picture id helps out, and what you should do with this is you should scan all these documents or at least photograph them, and then what you can do is you can email them to yourself. That way you have access to them almost no matter where you go. If you are traveling to remote exotic locations, I would bring extra two by two passport photos. Sometimes these air used for local reasons that you may not even contemplate at this point. But if you do a lot of travelling, we always traveled in our tv crew with just extra photographs here. And since how we're all photographers, we can take our own pictures. It's pretty simple requirements, you can go to the local agencies the u s passport, for instance, and check out what the regulations are on that next up bug elif, I all right, we're going to do a camera blackout on this. All right? So cameras have a lot of logos that are completely unnecessary, and so you don't need the name and the model number and the red stripe, yeah, you gotta nail lands, whoop de do alright gets him a little electrical tape and it's amazing how much it tones down your camera now for somebody who really knows what they're looking at I'm not trying to fool you you're not going to fool anybody like that but you know what when an idiot is looking his steal somebody's camera and they go ooh nikon who cannon you know that's more exciting than I don't know what that is but that person has a cannon I want that one so just trying to tone everything down I know here in the united states everyone seems to be like you'll make yourself fancy and makes them big and be a big boisterous now you wanna calm down and be quiet just kind of lurk in the background in some ways on this and so when it comes to this using electrical tape works really well sometimes you may need to use a little bit of gaffer tape and this also rings true with the camera strap I know you get a free camera strapped with your camera it's free advertising for the manufacturers and I like to simplify things with just a simple black strap and so I'm not going to be carrying a big logo that says an icon on it as faras the camera bags go you may have gotten a free bag that's his nikon or canon or olympus pentax on it on the side of it I like these other bags that are pretty subdued in their labels this is a think tank bag they make some really nice shoulder bags for carrying around the city and they just had a little tiny label in the back that's his thing you know it's like that's nice I like that uh the low pro bag here which is actually this bag the only real logo on it is this and I bet in most countries they have no idea what low pro is uh they make backpacks and that's about it and so just keeping a quiet simple bag that doesn't scream expensive camera gear in it is important so here's five tips on security split your money into two places don't carry all your money right here that you pull out every time you kind of keep your day to day a little bit of cash and then you're gonna have your backup stash someplace else never leave a bag outta sight this is why it's really helpful to travel with two or more people and just be aware that everyone's everyone's playing the game all right I'm going to the restroom would you watch my bag and so they're on alert there watching your bag for you next up give a copy of all your I d information too to whoever you're traveling with and so if something happens to their stuff or your stuff at least there's some sort of backup documents to go along that you khun you can use if you are going to leave your equipment in your room, which you often have to do in hotel rooms, don't just leave your cannon one dy ex sitting out on the counter there you're just inviting problems from somebody who works in the hotel and generally you're not going to have problems, but if you hide that in your suitcase there's just a little bit less chance that they're gonna go rummaging through your suitcase or potentially if it's lot you know they won't be able to get into it and so just be clean in your rooms and keep things put away and when you go out to lunch and dinner and you have your camera bag with you be really aware of where you set and where you put your bag and so when you go to the restaurant and you're sitting down at the table here like this, you don't just hang your bag off the back of the table and sit down like this because you have no connection to what's going on on the bag. And so if you have a little bag like that would all typically dio is I'll just kind of just put it between my feet like this and then I'll just give it a squeeze every once in a while just to see that it's there or you can wrap it around your knee or put it through um put your leg around the strap or something like that just so that it's not really easy I mean, the thieves were pretty good they might come through and that might cut cut it I've heard of thieves cutting straps off of people's arms and taking their camera. There was very scary video I saw and where was it? I think it was in russia where a bunch of thieves gathered around somebody and they were distracting him and they would put something in his face like this someone would come in press the lens release, take the lens off the camera and then suddenly everybody would do security had looked down and he's missing the lens on his camera. And so you have to be careful about what sort of groups you're getting encountered with heading the other direction and not going down that one alley. Perhaps you know, photography totally rules oh, these type of rules, right? There are rules about photography, right? I think there's like there's the rule of thirds, but we're going to talk about other rules here. There's rules for taking photographs and there are rules for publishing photographs and these air two completely different worlds and you should be vaguely aware of what's going on so first off let's talk about rules for taking photographs when is it legal to take a photograph and when is it illegal well, first off before I say anything else, it depends on where you are okay, slightly different rules in north korea and northern california. Okay, but in general, most countries in most places you go it's going to be okay in public places like streets, sidewalks and parks. And so if you want to just take a picture in a park, you're probably going to be okay almost anywhere you go now. The obvious restrictions to that sometimes governments don't like their buildings photographed or their people photographed, whether it's, the police or the military so you should be checking with what the local customs are of where you are going now. Photography can be ok on some public property. It depends on the type of public property it isthe here in seattle, at the tourist destination of the pike place market, it is private property, but it is open to the public and you're free to take as many photographs of anybody they're doing anything you want all right, but when you go out to the mall that is also private property and anyone can go there, but they don't allow photography in the maul and they often have signs that say that and if you start taking pictures, a security guard will probably come around and so there's also restrictions on sporting events, performances and museums, but it depends on it it varies from place to place and so you have to check to see what's okay and what's not okay there's many museums that will allow photography but you got to turn your flash off and you can't use a tripod and if you have image stabilized lens you can still get some pretty good pictures in there if you have the right technique and the right equipment and so you can still get away with some pretty good stuff completely where it's legal and so basically what you want to do is you want to check out the local rules and you could do that with guide books for that particular area they always talk about photography and, um, talk to your local travel guides in that location. Talk to your locals, the concierge at your hotel to find out what's appropriate for that location and it varies tremendously. Now there is some confusion between rules about taking photographs and publishing photographs. All right? If if I was to encounter you on the sidewalk outside of creative live and I took your picture that's legal all right now what I need do with that picture does matter whether it's for personal purposes or it's for something else and so when do you need a model release for somebody that you're just photographing in another country? Will you need it if you're going to use their image for advertisement endorsement or trade so if you're going to use their image to promote a product you need their permission okay now if you are just taking personal photographs that you're gonna put on your website which is publishing them in some ways but you're not really selling anything that's totally legal you could in fact take a picture of somebody put it up in your gallery and sell it and you're selling a piece of artwork and that's legal as well. So there's a lot of reasons why you don't need permission to photograph now generally I like to get permission if I'm going to photograph a person in a portrait type situation more for social reasons than legal reasons but as faras just somebody say you can't take my picture you may not want to get into an argument with him about it but yes I can unless you're in a place where it's illegal to take photographs and so just be clear that there is a distinction between taking photographs and publishing and be clear about what you're going to do with your photographs. One of the more interesting places I was at that was terrible for photography was a little city kind of the venice of africa called gandhi a benin in west africa and it's a village that's built on a shallow lake and at some point in the past a photographer came through took a photograph and according to the fork folklore made a lot of money selling this photograph and they didn't give the person that they photographed any of that money and so the entire city has taken a very dim view on photographers now the kid's quite don't understand this so you could get photographs of kids occasionally like this but the adults just completely don't look at me they turn their hats down and they just didn't want to be photographed in any way and you ended up with all these pictures that show some buildings and canoes and just you've never got a good picture of people or you were shooting like the backs of heads and so forth and it was just a place that he just weren't gonna get good photographs and there will be places that you go it just doesn't work out when I was in jordan a couple years ago leading a photo tour you don't just take pictures of women walking down the street it's not in the culture to do that don't do it they're other cases that you might be able to get to petty on who you talk teo where you will be able to photograph a woman but you're just not gonna be able to do that work on something else you know that that will happen from time to time let's touch on research that photographers can do so obviously you're going to be going to the standard places you're going to be learning about. Destinations from the guidebooks there's lots of different guidebooks there's tons there's never been a better time for envy s a gating someplace you've never been but one thing that photographers could do that it is very helpful is doing your local google or being or whatever search and notice there are different tabs that you can search for not just web information. For instance, when I went to egypt I wanted to photograph the pyramids but I wanted to see where could I get two in what could I do so I put in egypt pyramids what comes up okay, well, these are the standard points of view I can probably get there. Ooh, this one's taken at night this is what it looks like a night how come nobody's ever been over to this side? Um oh, maybe this one person has over here. What does it look like in the morning? What does it look like in the evening? And you can also go in there and if you go into the search tools you need to be, you know, a little bit inquisitive going and finding these different areas you khun look under videos as well, and sometimes that helps you get the logistics and the layout of something better than a still image does and so using all of those tools is very important something else that I'll use is google maps when I went to the pyramids, I wanted to find out where the roads are where does the sun rise according to these? And then I can go over here and there's a number of cool aps I don't have a moralistic but there's a number of aps we're figuring out where the sun will rise according to specific monuments and that'll put you in, so doing a little bit of that research ahead of time is important because that's good information that's going to help you out and make your trip as efficient as possible. Another great photographic website is flicker and there's tons of people who love to post their great travel photographs on there, and if I am bringing my computer with me, what I'll often do is grab some quick screenshots of some of the images that other people have taken and it's not my desire to copy their image, but I need to keep it as a visual reference. I'm a very visual person and it helps me look at that image because sometimes I go photograph something you know, like they got something really good that I didn't yet and then I'll go back, look at their photograph and realize, oh, I needed to be in this other area where I needed to be aware of something else and so I'll create a shot list and so this is good for anyone travelling is to put together a list of images that you would like to get your not going to make him all happen. But the good thing is, is that you'll make things in addition to that shot list happened, but haven't idea of things that you want to do when I would go on my big adventures with my buddy tim, we had a very detailed shot list. Okay, we need a cover shot that needs to be a vertical, and we want to have a cyclist like this with we want to have this glacier in the background, and we were having all sorts of ideas and that just keeping that mixing in your brain just keeps you ready for whatever might happen. I now realize that when you do, look at these photographs, you were looking at pictures from photographers, and we need to address the travel vision of what you imagine a place to be like and the reality of what it's actually like to be there. Uh huh. And we all know we like to post our best photographs, and we like to pay, uh, post the most ideal iq photographs. This's wait. What makes travel so alluring is it looks so perfect, and you're seeing one photograph of one hundred and all the other ninety nine or terrible shot when you go to africa on safari it's like you're in this little jeep surrounded by animals when in reality you're surrounded by suvs and minivans in jordan one of my favorite places uh going to petra I was amazed to find that right around the corner it was a gift shop selling postcards right there just feet from this beautiful beautiful uh carving into the wall uh in india you'll see pictures of tigers that you get to take and then you realize how many people are driving around in little four wheel drive vehicles trying to get a picture of the tigers. This is where it really helped to have the elephants the extra well extra fee for this one but you could get on elephants and then you can go chart tramping right into the forest to take pictures down in antarctica. Great place to go and they tell you when you travel with us you get a red parka oh, great everybody on the crew has a red park I and so you have a background filled with red parkas everywhere in the background of every shot you take some place where you have really good wildlife up in alaska with the caribou you might get up there and see nothing ever the entire time you were there and that happens you know you try to go during the best time of year you have to be prepared they may not be there when we're there and this happens when you're traveling all the time. All right, so five more tips on just planning your trip pack light you really just got tear it away what's the absolute essentials of what you need I keep saying this stay healthy, stay happy whatever it takes and this is kind of a nice thing to say whatever it takes to keep me happy we're keeping me happy and different people have different levels for some people it's this level of stain happy means I'm going to bring the thicker air mattress with me that's going to make me feel good for other people it's like, hey, we're spending the night in the five star hotel that's going to make me happy, you know, whatever it takes to keep yourself healthy and happy there's lots of great movies and books about locations. A lot of times when I'm travelling, I like to read a book that has kind of just a little bit about the location that I'm going tio I remember when I was in iceland I was reading one of the oh tom clancy novels that dealt with people going to iceland and deal and it was kind of fun to say we were in that town where those people were at so that's just kind of a fun thing to dio get inspired, but don't be a copycat. What I mean by this is when you're looking at other people's photographs, you know it's nice to say, I wish I had taken that photograph, but try to be creative and do your own thing, and sometimes you are so limited there are certain locations where there are, try potholes three inches deep and you know exactly where you have to be to get the shot, you get your shot and then try your different angles and do something unique. Do something that you have using somebody else dio and don't over plan I I've seen some people who over plan their trip, they know exactly where they're eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they know what they're doing every hour of the day, and that leaves you no chance to just free your mind and think and be creative, and so you need to schedule just open time. Well, we got this half day and we don't know what we're going to dio if the weather is good, we'll go here if the weather's bad, we'll go here and allowing that freedom is really, really nice. One of the mistakes that I had made on some of my earlier traipses I had very hard plane flights that I had to meet you, I gotta leave on thursday. At noon on this plane and everything revolved around it and you have to start compromising everything and on some of my bigger trips, what we did is we scheduled as far, often advances we could, knowing that we could move the date up any time we wanted, and then just a we're gonna leave on saturday, that's just what seems right? And so if you could have that flexibility it's going to help you out and so it's very hard to plan a flight and then take it afterwards, but if you plan a flight that's way out, you can often move it up. You may have to wait a little bit may not be the perfect flight, but then you can kind of leave whenever you want to, and we're getting close to our ten thirty break and we're going to get into the equipment cameras, signs so this might be a good time. Tio hit our first break that is absolutely right. Before we go to break, we have time for a couple questions for the section drop up. First question, some good simcox from colorado asked john dubai special insurance when traveling with your photo gear and then a follow up to that, what would you do if you're here was stolen while you're out of the country? Insurance is a wise choice for many people I have made the radical decision a long time ago after I ended up I was in a job where I had to sell extended warranties and uh very early on in my twenties I decided what if I never bought an extended warranty? What if I didn't try avlynn shirts and I'm not saying this is for everyone what if I took all the money that I would spend on insurance and I just saved it and what I have found out that the way that I travel with gear I have yet to have a single piece of camera gear ever stolen I've never had a peace stolen I've dropped a lens once and did a hundred dollars worth of damage I've had a couple of hundred dollars repair bills maybe hundred fifty dollar repair bills so I've had I take good care of my stuff and I watch out for my stuff and I travel safe with my stuff and so I know that my risk factor is relatively low so no I don't have special insurance when I'm travelling I if all my stuff got stolen I have the money in the bank to go out and buy it all again not everyone can say that and if you don't have that money for some people travel insurance makes sense you have to be that your own judge on that and so I am my own insurance company one of the things that I don't do is I don't travel with one camera. I travel with two or three cameras. I will carry the extra weight it's a little extra weight on the shoulder, but if something happens to one camera, I want to have a back up to go to nowadays. For most people, the phone can be a backup to the backup. You know, for some people that is the backup camera and that's fine, you're gonna have a dedicated camera. If something happens to that camera drops or get stolen, use your phone. Um, I don't know what I would do if things got stolen. I would probably either just go buy another camera in some situations I would call home, tell my parents to go over to my house, grab this particular camera, package it up and send it to this location and send me a camera. I've not had that happen, been in some fairly awkward situations, you might say, but I haven't had anything stolen thankfully.