“An army marches on its stomach.”

~ Napoleon Bonaparte


Photography is an art, no question about it.  Perhaps not at all levels (see: lousy cell phone images), but certainly at its heights.

However, it is not all artsy-fartsy-ness!  Or if it is, you will seriously miss out on what it could be.

I am speaking, specifically, of the critical nature of logistics and planning.

Consider the following scenarios: you arrive for a shoot after a four-hour drive, only to find the sky has opened and it is pouring rain.  Instead of tromping about merrily, rig in hand, you get to spend the next few hours sitting in the car, hoping against hope that the weather clears.  Or maybe, you didn’t think have a spare battery when doing star trail photography and wind up with only enough juice for one shot, after which of course you find a brilliant second shot, only to be stymied by lack of power.

Or as my perennially-erudite senior English teach put it: PPPPPPP, or, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (he was also the wrestling coach).

Or consider the extreme case: you run out of water while on an expedition in Death Valley.  Not only is your photography compromised, you’re now potentially at risk of injury or death!

But on the flip side … when you do plan ahead, it frees you up to be creative in the field.  You’re not wondering how much battery life you have, or what you might’ve done with that other lens that got left at home, or if you have enough money for gas without going to the bank.  Leaving all those worries behind, you are free to think instead of things like “what if I get closer to that log and use it as a foreground?”  Or:  maybe this will be a great spot relative to the azimuth of the setting sun for a sunset shot.”

So here are a few tips on things to remember when planning your photography, aside from the artistic side of things.

  • For anything outside, weather!  Check on the web, or if you have an app on your phone.
  • Location: make sure you know how to get to/from the places you’re going.  Think maps, GPS, compass, phone apps and so on.
  • Time: when’s the right time to get the photo you want?  Sunset? Midday?  3:24pm Eastern?
  • Batteries: particularly if doing long exposure or cold weather, take extra (batteries drain faster in the cold).
  • Selection of gear: take what you think you’ll need, and if you can swing it, take extra if it won’t kill you on weight or luggage restrictions.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be, especially if going alone and/or in the wild.  Think of it as filing a flight plan … it’s insurance you’ll hopefully never need.
  • Food and drink!  Can be either knowing what restaurant you’ll hit up, or what chow you’ll take along.  Remember water, especially if it’s hot or you’re lugging a bunch of gear around.

There’s lots more to think of as well (there will be future, more specific posts on the topic), but bear the general idea in mind, and you won’t find yourself short on cannon powder while you’re busy bombarding Austerlitz.


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