Planning Travel for Your Location Photo Shoot.

In part one of this series of articles I covered some of the basic pre-planning for your location shoot abroad, and some of  the things to remember to do as a photographer taking a team out of the country for some fun shoots.

When I left you last you were in the process of planning your shoot sheet, being what shots you were hoping to get while on your trip.

As important as this may be it is also very important to consider the other elements of travel.

And yes you will have a difficult time believing this BUT I am about to tackle some of the most vital elements to travel that are often overlooked!


It’s assumed that you’d have an itinerary, either from your travel agent or from resources like the Fodor’s Guides to places you want to visit.

These things help you get the most out of your trip and still be able to get good pictures of it without having the enjoyment of the place or location be sacrificed.

If not, then just be aware that you may need to make contingency plans for shooting purposes.

Planning Your Location Photo Shoots - DeaqonJamesYou should begin your planning with insurance of your cameras and equipment you plan to take with you with your insurance carrier.

Be up front and honest with them, and tell them that you want to insure it for your trip.

Most carriers will simply cover them on your homeowners/renters policy, and some with separate policies.

Either way you’re covered for loss or theft of the equipment.

You will need to get serial numbers, make, model and descriptions of all the gear you plan to take.

Digital photos wouldn’t hurt, either.

While I’m talking about insurance you should also make sure that you have insurance on yourself and every member of your team and models, regardless if you’re traveling to Ohio, Hawaii, Mexico, or Bahgdad!

Things happen and you should be covered!

Then, you’ll want to go down to your local US Customs Office and get what’s called a “Certificate of Registration” for personal effects like this taken abroad.

This is Form CF4457, and can only be acquired at the agency’s offices.

You can locate your nearest US Customs Office at the following web address:

Planning Your Location Photo Shoots - DeaqonJamesYou must physically bring the equipment you plan to take to their offices for their inspection, and they will then confirm the information on the form and stamp it.

This is done for the purposes of being able to get your gear back into the country without having to pay duty on your own equipment.

Their stand is that just because you say you left the country with it, doesn’t mean you really did.

This form proves that, and will make the possibility of potential problems go away.

Travel insurance for travelers outside the U.S. is highly recommended, for the obvious reasons.

You might also want to check with the CDC’s web site for health related issues, and the US State Department’s web site for travel advisories, and the FAA’s website for travel restrictions.


Credit cards for Traveling.Before leaving your home you should photograph all of the credit and debit cards you own and plan to take on your trip; along with a clear photo of your driver’s license. Once you’ve done that you can load those to your server or some form of cloud storage. This way if your documents are lost or stolen, having them like that will help facilitate replacement.

Plus it reminds you of what you actually lost so you can beware of what to monitor. If you only have one or two cards then obviously that isn’t going to be as big an issue but you should also have your insurance, medical, and any travel paperwork photographed and backed up as well.

Make sure you do this for everyone traveling with you, along with recent photos of them.


12667622It is extremely vital to make sure that your planning includes transportation. The obvious is usually air transport, but then what do you do once you’re on the ground? Making travel arrangements for your location shoot is vastly different than just booking a trip for yourself and maybe one other person.

There are a vast array of logistics you have to consider. If you’re going to be booking your travel let’s say as I do usually for around fifteen to twenty people plus gear you’re going to find that the expense to fly commercially is going to be astronomic!

Not to mention all the new albeit useless “security” measures that are in place currently could potentially make your trip a nightmare starting out of the gate. I maintain that the cost of private transportation is usually equal to commercial but with a lot less hassle and a whole lot of style!

But I digress.

Let’s say that you’re going to book with a commercial carrier, we use American Airlines or United because of their charter rates. For a group as large as the one we mentioned it will do well for you to check and see how much that is going to be versus individual ticket purchases.

OK so now you’ve gotten your air transportation set.

How are you going to get you, your team, and your models to the airport and from the airport. Whatever you do; don’t forget your gear has to travel with you as well. That is unless you ship it to where you will be staying.

Side note as I found out the hard way once years ago, make certain you have at least ONE of your cameras on your carry on list as if you recall I said that airlines tend to sometimes misplace stuff.

The Departure and Arrival:

It’s a good idea to establish a staging area to meet with your team before heading to the airport. This can be your home, a hotel close to the airport or an area in the airport itself. It is here where we take a headcount to make sure all our models and crew are present and accounted for. Also this is a great time to brief your models and your team on what exactly is about to happen when you touch down at your destination.

This is also the time where I take photos of each member of the team and what they are wearing. Now you’re thinking; paranoid much DJ? Well yes and no. Things do happen sometimes and it is better to be prepared for the possibility and have it not happen than not be prepared and the worse happens.

This is an especially helpful system when traveling abroad as well. Especially in South America. I also take photos each day at the start of the day and during any changes of clothes during the day, just to have the most up to date information. This is something I actually encourage parents of young children to do also.

I suggest that you have a professional car service send vans or a bus to come and pick you and your gear up and shuttle you to the airport. If you’ve booked a commercial departure you will want to report to the airport around three hours prior to the scheduled departure for international flights.

If you’re going to Hawaii then allow for at least two hours. If you’re traveling private then wheels up is when you arrive and say it is. Which is yet another advantage of flying private.

Once you’ve touched down at your destination; things can start going a bit bonkers. You’re in airports with a group of people you may have never traveled with before. Certainly; it’s easy to be tired from the planning and travel and this is where it is most critical to have a system or a plan of what to do once you get off the aircraft and possibly through customs.

Part of that plan should be to include rallying your troops to a staging area to make certain that no one is missing or still caught up in Customs or has wandered off; and yes it happens. A good idea to stress to your team is a buddy system.

Give every member of your team about 15 minutes to arrive at the rally point before you start being concerned about their whereabouts. It seems someone always has to run to the bathroom between the plane and customs or the baggage area.

By this time your baggage should be arriving and you will be able to retrieve it and move back to the staging area to wait for your transportation to the hotel you will be staying at. You did remember to book transportation right?

It is probably a great idea to have a car service waiting for you when you step off the plane to take you to the hotel. Often time people get so caught up in air transportation they forget all about ground transportation which is equally important.

Imagine getting to the airport of your destination with your team and a group of excited models only to find there is no way to get to the hotel. Yeah; not a good look.


PACKING: Is the topic I’ll cover in part 3 next week. It will include what and how to pack for your trip. I hope that you’re enjoying these writings.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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