Anxious About A New Photo Trip? Here’s How I Handle It.

In Landscape, Photo Tip by Brian Matiash15 Comments

If you’re like me, you get anxious before heading off on a new photo trip and this anxiety seems to grow as the departure day looms closer. It gets magnified even more if it has been a stretch since your last photo outing. In my case, anxiety began creeping in a day or two before leaving for a 10 day road trip to Wyoming and Colorado to photograph the fall colors.

2017 has been an odd year thus far. The first half was spent in a big funk while working at Wacom and the best thing I did was quit. Doing so allowed me to return to focusing 100% of my efforts on my own company, which has clearly proven to be a better use of my creative energy. It also opened up my entire schedule to travel as I see fit and after taking a few months to move to Nebraska and get my business back on rails, Nicole and I packed the Jeep and headed out with our cameras for a good ol’ adventure. Our first stop: Grand Teton National Park.

The only problem was that I had this uneasy anxiety creeping in my mind during the entire 14 hour drive over. It has been a long spell since my last significant outing with my camera and, for some reason, I felt a lot of pressure to come home with some real winners. Don’t get me wrong. I think all of you can relate to wanting to walk away from a trip with photos that you’re excited about. But there’s a difference between being excited to get new photos and creating anxiety over it. When we finally arrived to the park, settled our campsite, and headed out for our first sunset shoot, I began rationalizing things. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, right? Sure, it took about 14 hours to drive out here but it’s not like I couldn’t return just as easily in a month or two and even if I was visiting a location that required more costly travel logistics, I would still ask, “What’s the worst that will happen?”

And that’s basically all it took. If you ask yourself that question honestly and answer it honestly, you should come to the same realization that I did. At the end of the day, I’ll still be fine even if I get nothing but turds for photos. In other words, if I allow myself to take everything in stride and GASP just enjoy the scenery for what it is, I may just allow enough clarity of mind to focus on the photography instead of the anxiety. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing and you know what?. So far. So good.

What about you? Does this tip resonate with you? Do you have your own ways of dealing with pre-photo trip anxiety? Share them in the comments!

 

Comments

  1. My solution to the problem you identify is find a good guide. One point of clarification, 95% of my trips are international. More than anything else, delegating decisions about where to go; when to go; how to get there and all the logistical trip questions to someone who knows the area and has demonstrated advanced photo skills via their body of photo work has greatly improved my satisfaction with trip experience.

    When I find a good guide, I almost always take more than one trip with them.

    1. Author

      I absolutely love your idea, Greg. Nicole and I are planning a trip to Vietnam in Q1’18 and we are strongly considering hiring a guide to join us for the entire trip. When we travel, we tend to focus on hitting up less touristed spots and a local guide would know that info better than any book or website.

      If you’ve had great experiences with guides and want to share their info here, please feel free to!

      Great comment, Greg. Thank you.

  2. Great article Brian and a subject I am sure we all think about. I approach my road trips with the saying: “They are like trying to push a chain”. They usually go in a different direction than planned so just push it back on track.

  3. Brian,

    My biggest problem when not shooting every day is forgetting to do something critical. Often, just as soon as I put a picture up on my screen, I too often say to myself, I forgot ….. Good picture creativity takes daily practice and I have recently found someone whom I trust to review what I have done. That is proving to be very educational, either I agree (most of the time) or silently disagree and list reasons to myself as to why.

  4. When I get like that, my wife is most often a source of comfort and reassurance. Talk over how you feel with Nicole; she’ll get you back on track.

  5. I have that anxiety right now. I’m two weeks away from a trip to Germany where I will be alone the first few days and then joining a tour group. I am working on making sure I have clear internal goals about achieving the purpose of my trip, balancing my desire to photograph, and yet be fully engaged in the moment with my fellow travelers and my interaction with the historical nature of the trip. I don’t want to come home second-guessing my decisions about the opportunities that arise.

  6. My biggest concern is bringing the right lenses. I went to Alaska a few years and brought every lens I had and only ended up using my Nikkor 28-300. The 80-400 was so darn heavy and hard to get out when I needed it. Since I can increase my 28-300 by 50% with by Nikon D750 by choosing DX mode I hardly need the 80-400 unless I will be going after wildlife.

    How about you and Nicole doing a workshop in Jackson nest year.

  7. My anxiety is usually caused by the need to limit what gear I take when travel involves flying. Some photos will be turds but the experience is more important than getting successful photos. I try to remember to relax enough to enjoy the trip and where I get to be.

  8. “…at the floundering company” – That last part of the sentence was not appropriate in my opinion. Bad mouthing a prior company looks poorly on you.

  9. You have recently moved. Instead of capturing the grandeur of a foreign land, try wandering around your new surroundings and discover what beauty and graphic design you live near? You probably did not move back into the same house. There has got to be some awesome finds within 30 or 50 miles from home. If not landscapes, an interesting rock or back alley, or a fence. You can travel at your lightest and if you need something it is not for away to return another time with it when the time, weather and inspiration is right, or better. I don’t know who is financing your trips, but I think you feel pressure to come back with “the goods” is a bit much for you at this time.

  10. I would love love love to travel and shoot abstracts and the stupefying beauty of nature …. but I’m older and have no one with whom to travel. I would prefer to have a companion… I don’t want to be alone in a foreign country with equipment and no knowledge of the place and no one to talk to or share my excitement at what I see.

  11. Yes, I feel the same way. We just came back from the Laguna Beach area in California. I brought my Sony camera with me and new 18-105mm lens. I also brought a polarizing lens which I wanted to use for the beach scenes. It’s very hard to get near the beach for starters, but we found a location ( finally)
    which was great. Guess what – I forgot all about the polarizing lens, until we got back to the hotel room. Well, it was too late.

  12. Yes, the feel is always present befora a dedicated photo trip. In particular anxius about what to bring when it comes to clothing and ends up with too much stuf. Another issue is to reduce the photo gear when flying; what lenses to leave at home and what to bring. ? Overload is expensive. And should I bring my back up camera body, During my last photo workshop my D810 dropped into the water and fainted so I was forced to use my old workhorse D700. Next trip goes to Cornwall – England so the nerves are gearing up right now…….

  13. We just returned from 2 weeks in Utah and Arizona. Besides having wonderfully flexible and patient travel companions, what helped me relax was all the research I did beforehand. Wherever we went, I knew of a photogenic subject. This allowed me to enjoy my companions’ company and drop some of my expectations.

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