Go On A Photography Vacation This Year!

Dec 31, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Go On A Photography Vacation This Year!

Dec 31, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Thinking back over this past year, there’s one thing that stands out for me as something that was immensely enjoyable, fulfilling and really helped me to forget about the day to day grind of running a photography business…I went on a photography vacation.

For one week in July I clocked over 3000 miles on a rental Kia compact travelling across the US southwest.  Using a good old fashioned paper map and sticking to the back roads as much as possible, I started in Albuquerque New Mexico, made my way up through Bisti/De-Na-Zin, past Shiprock to Monument Valley Utah, back down through Arizona and eventually to White Sands in New Mexico (I will publish a more detailed account of this trip in a future article).

I didn’t have any particular itinerary or schedule in mind except to make sure that I was at the right place at the right time to create the best photos I could. I was solo for the first half of this trip and joined by my wife for the second half.

This is the first time I have travelled somewhere solely for the purpose of photography – and if you’re a photographer its something that I highly recommend.

In this article I thought that it would be fun to post a few of my favorite photos from the trip and try to inspire you to try something similar.

A Sightseeing Vacation Vs A Photography Vacation

The big difference between a sightseeing vacation and a photography vacation is your day to day schedule.

During this trip, every day started with getting up a couple of hours before sunrise to photograph blue hour and golden hour around dawn, then packing up, checking the map and driving to my next destination during the day (and possibly a nap). I tried to arrive wherever it was I was going by mid afternoon so that I would have time to scout locations and possibly hike into a more remote location and set up camp if necessary. Then I would photograph evening golden hour and blue hour and well into the night.

shiprock new mexico JP Danko
The Mighty Kia Crapola at Shiprock, New Mexico

My entire schedule from meal times (mostly peanut butter and jam sandwiches) to travel times (driving and hiking during ugly daylight) to campsite locations (staying as close as possible to locations I wanted to photograph) revolved around making sure that I was at the right place at the right time to maximize my chances of capturing an amazing photo.

I did take a day to relax and cool off up in the mountains but for the most part the entire trip was focused on photography.

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park New Mexico
Camping at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico

Highlights

My goal here is to hopefully inspire you to get out there and do something similar – so I thought that I would just share a few of my favorite photos from the trip.

Hiking and lookout at Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sandia Peak Golden Hour, Albuquerque, New Mexico
bisti de na zin backcountry camping milky way
The Milky Way in the Bisti Badlands, New Mexico
Man (40) hiking in Bisti/De Na Zin Wilderness Area in New Mexico at sunrise.
Hoodoos at Dawn in the Bisti Wilderness Area, New Mexico
Man (40) hiking at Monument Valley Utah at dusk under colorful evening desert light.
Monument Valley Utah at Dusk
Man (40) standing on sand dune with Milky Way galaxy in White Sands National Monument New Mexico
The Milky Way in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Man (40) hiking on white sand dunes with vibrant clear blue sky in White Sands National Monument New Mexico
Early Morning in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Woman (40) walking in White Sands National Moument, New Mexico in late afternoon with vibrant blue sky (polarized).
Late Afternoon in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Where To Next?

As I have said, I found the entire experience to be extremely liberating and it helped me to rediscover the pure joy of photography

On a normal vacation, I always feel guilty about staying up all night to take pictures and then wasting the next day napping – but on this trip my primary reason for being there in the first place was photography, so I felt like I had permission to put in the work that it really requires to come home with the kinds of photos I had envisioned.

My kids are still a little young to appreciate the kind of schedule that a photography vacation requires, but I’m thinking once they gain a little bit more of an appreciation for photography and hopefully their own interest in the craft of photography, a family trip to Iceland or southern Africa will be in order…

Man (40) jumping off of top of sand dune in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico with pure blue sky.
Dune Jumping in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

What Do You Think?

Is this the year to go on your own photography vacation?

Have you already done a trip like this? What was your experience?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

Very Large Array Socorro
Make sure your rental has a full size spare tire and lots of gas if you take this road to the Very Large Array Radio Observatory near Socorro, New Mexico

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 responses to “Go On A Photography Vacation This Year!”

  1. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Great article. I have a photography bucket list of places that I want to visit and photograph: slot canyons, the aurora. I checked off a 30 year old bucket list on July 8, 2011, when I saw the final Space Shuttle launch and took photographs of the Final Four launching on Atlantis. I was back at KSC to photograph the final landing from the Shuttle Landing Facility; I was 200 yards away from the runway. I used Kodak Ektar 100 for the launch and since the landing would happen during the pre-dawn hours, Kodak BW400CN pushed 2 stops to 1600; in hindsight, I should’ve ordered TMAX 3200 and express shipping.

  2. Mike Avatar
    Mike

    A great article to start the year with. Are you going to post more shots elsewhere?