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Top Ten Beach Packing Essentials

2014-02-13_0048This post is for all my photographer (“photog”) friends and followers. Yes, I realize it’s February and it’s not exactly beach weather… But I recently went to Cancun for a romantic getaway and I thought of some helpful tips that may help you for your next vacation!!

Normally I plan ahead with packing and I’m all ready to go roughly a week in advance before a trip. This time I couldn’t seem to get my act together — the cold Virginia weather must have been slowing me down — as I was still doing some last minute packing at 3:30AM before leaving the house at 4AM to catch our flight. Luckily, I didn’t forget to pack anything major (like a bathing suit!!) but I did forget 1 essential thing but I was able to make due with what I had.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog post. Other than telling you the basic essentials on what to bring to a beach vacation (like flop flops, a camera, suntan lotion (SPF 30!), bathing suits, toiletries, a straightener to tame the curls in your hair from the humidity!!, etc.)… I’m going to give you some tips on some key photog essentials that you may not initially think to pack when getting ready for some fun in the sun!!

1. Tripod. This is always nice to have! Somewhat of a pain to pack but it can usually fit longways in your luggage bag (squished next to your 12 pairs of wedges, heels, and flip flops!). Sure, you could ask some random tourist to take your photo but we all know how those pictures turnout (and what if you want more than one photo?!). With a tripod, you can set it up, put someone in the frame so you can set your focal point, set the self timer (or a have a remote!), and snap away! Below is one I shot on the beach one morning. I brought a tripod along to my honeymoon and it was like having a photographer traveling along with us. Yes, we probably looked silly having our own little photo shoot on the beach with our tripod but we got some memorable photos nonetheless. It’s also great for those group shots!

2. Wide angle lens. Remember when I said that I forgot 1 essential thing on my recent getaway?? This was it. I had a newborn session the day before leaving for Cancun so I still had my 50mm f/1.8 on my Nikon. As I said, I was last minute packing so I forgot to switch lenses before leaving. I wish I brought my 35mm f/1.8! This lens would have been great for taking pictures of our hotel room (I always quickly snap some when we check-in before we get it messy!). With my 50mm I couldn’t get the whole room in my frame nor could I get the whole patio. Instead I used my point-and-shoot for those shots. I was even limited with the 50mm for the landscape shots of the beach, resort, and tall palm trees — with the 35mm I wouldn’t have had a problem. A macro lens would have been fun for snapshots of food, flowers, etc. (A macro lens is in my gear wish list!).

3. Remote clicker. I highly recommend this. They are very affordable and it’s always nice to have. Sure, the 10 second self timer is convenient but with a clicker you can set it to two seconds (so you have time to hide the remote) and you can already be in place for the shot. They are also fun for those casual laughing shots too (not staged at all, LOL!).

4. Zip lock baggies. Not much explanation here. I brought some gallon zip lock baggies to put my iPad, point-and-shoot camera, money, etc. in my beach bag. The easiest way to avoid sand or lotion damaging your valuables 🙂

5. Extra battery. This was definitely nice to have! I was able to use one battery during the day while the other was charging in the room. Then when I got back to the room later that day I grabbed a freshly charged battery and off I went!

6. Point-and-shoot camera. I rarely use mine anymore these days but it’s really nice to bring on the beach during the day (instead of your $1,300 DSLR!) for some fun pictures. It’s compact, can fit in a zippered pouch (inside your zip lock bag), and you don’t have to stress about it getting damaged. It would be a bonus if your point-and-shoot was waterproof (mine wasn’t but it would have made for some fun shots in the clear Caribbean water or in the pool). It’s also nice to put in a small clutch purse on the way to dinner instead of lugging around your big/expensive camera.

7. Plan your carry-on bag. On most flights you’re allowed to have your purse and one other bag. For this trip, I didn’t want to hassle with my camera bag nor did I want to bring all my lenses so I just put my DSLR with my 50mm already attached and put in in my purse (make sure it’s protected from lotion, keys, etc. damaging it). Some photogs may check their camera bags but with my luck I would never chance it! When I travel with my camera bag it doesn’t leave my sight!

8. Clear your camera. It’s always a good idea to back-up all the images and delete them from your camera so your memory card has a clean slate and your ready to rock n’ roll once you’ve reached your destination. There is nothing worse than getting ready to take a great picture and you get the “memory card full” error message. Also, since it’s a vacation and you’re not shooting a wedding or portrait session — you probably don’t need to shoot in RAW as it will quickly eat up your memory card space.

9. Take pictures of the un-posed everyday. So, this isn’t really a “packing” essential but definitely a good tip once you get there! While busy taking family photos don’t forget to snap some photos of the everyday simple things that can quickly go un-noticed — mangos in a tree, flip flops in the sand, flowers around the resort, the lime on the edge of your margarita glass. These are the fun photos that you’ll look back on and they’ll make you smile (or crave a margarita!).

10. Set a wake-up call. Another good tip while on vacation! I’m usually an early riser at home but when your on Mexico time, at an all inclusive resort, eating and drinking mojitos all day… You may slightly oversleep in the morning. Of course, this is OK to do. However, for one of the mornings on your trip, I would highly suggest setting a wake-up call. Capturing a sun rise over the Caribbean is absolutely breathtaking!!! Below is a shot that I took when I was in Cabo a few years ago (gorgeous!!!). As an early bird photog, you’ll have the added bonus of taking pictures of the resort and the beach without a bunch of people in your pictures. And! An added bonus, you can put a towel or a beach coverup under a beach cabana hut to reserve your spot on the beach before they’re all taken!

PS!! Bring an extra pair of sunglasses… My pair broke on the 1st day in my beach bag. They have shops at the resort but everything is triple the price!! Also, don’t forget to use your in-room safe to lock up your valuables (passport, camera/lenses, money, etc.) while you’re out soaking up the sun!

Hope this was helpful for my photog friends!! Now… Hop online and book your next tropical designation!!!

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