How incredible would it be if my job also could take me around the world? I think my first step towards it being reality started when I got my first booking in Cairo. Carol, the bride, wanted to celebrate their wedding in her parent’s homeland, Egypt, and chose me as their photographer. This post isn’t about their wedding, but please stick around for my impression of Cairo, some pretty travel photos and some tips for travelling as a wedding photographer.
My first impression of Cairo was chaos. Reminiscent of an ongoing construction site, there’s rubble and scaffolding everywhere as a result of tax avoidance attempts. It’s a city built for 5 million cars, but there are 15 million cars. Anything goes in Cairo.
There are no bus stops, so everyone just waits for buses anywhere along the highway. There are no traffic lights, so you just have to go for it. Sorry Cairo, but I didn’t like your food, I didn’t like the attention I got from everyone, including women, for being white and young and “shakira”, whatever that means. I didn’t like your messy streets and rubbish-filled rooftops. I didn’t like that everyone tried to sell me something, and gullible as I am… you get the idea!
But what did I like about Cairo? It really did make an impact on me. I liked that it’s massive and I’m not in control, that it’s different from anything else I’ve experienced. I gained perspective, which is my main reason for travelling. I was there to observe, and I observed how proud they are of their culture. I loved people watching and seeing the wonders of the world I’ve only ever saw in history books. I’m excited about the colours you can find everywhere, on fabric, mosaics and in their papyrus paintings. I endulged in rooftop swimming pools and witnessed the beautiful African sunset. I’m in awe from climbing inside a massive pyramid, and I enjoyed sharing some moments with a camel.
5 Things I Learnt From Travelling as a Wedding Photographer
I travel to Norway a lot as a wedding photographer, so I’ve already tried some ways to travel, and learnt some tricks for travelling by airplane with photo gear. For going on longer haul flights it’s a bit different. I’m definitely not the most travelled and I don’t know when I’ll go on an exotic adventure again, but if this little compiled list can help at least on of you, it’s made writing it worthwhile!
1. What gear to bring when travelling as a wedding photographer. I started early on to investigate how to get my usual gear with me to Cairo, and keep it safe. First, I bought a ridiculously big crate to ship all my stuff in hold, but quickly realised that wouldn’t keep my equipment safe from theft. I have an incredible ThinkTank carry-on, super lightweight and it holds everything I need (2 flashes, 2 Nikon D800 bodies, 4 lenses, MacBook 13 Inch and some extra stuff while still being just around 12 kg). Check in your clothes and other personal stuff.
2. Worldwide photo equipment insurance exists and you should get it! I have worldwide equipment and liability insurance from PolicyBee. They not only cover equipment replacement, but you can get help finding replacement or backup right where you are! I’ve got the personal travel insurance which will cover illness, additional luggage, and the other essentials for travelling abroad through my bank.
3. Bring a second photographer or assistant. I was incredibly lucky my friend and talented photographer Maxeen wanted to come with me to Cairo. Travelling alone is possible, but it’s so much more enjoyable to go with someone. I asked my couple if they wanted a second shooter, and covered parts of Maxeen’s ticket to make it more affordable for her. In return, I let her use any images from the wedding in her portfolio as long as they’re published after my official photographs were delivered to the client + she got an incredible experience she otherwise wouldn’t have had, and accommodation covered too!
4. Be prepared to work hard and way past your bedtime. Time flies when being a photographer, and since I was hand-picked to follow my clients to another country, and they paid for it, it didn’t at all feel right to be precious about my time. Rather, I socialised with guests and had a great time covering the wedding day from start to finish without thinking about what time it was! I got so much in return for this, including getting to know some amazing, new people!
5. Extend the whole journy into a holiday! What better excuse do you have to take a few days off to explore the wonders of the world (literally), than when you’re tickets and maybe even accommodation is already organised and paid for? The rest of your stay isn’t tax deductible, but your tickets have already been purchased.
So I guess now I’m prepared for my next destination photography gig! Maybe it was useful for you too. I don’t know when or if it will happen any time soon, but it really is my dream to be able to mix work, travel and play in this way. When I travel, I always seek colours, patterns and more recently I’ve tried to photograph more people. It’s hard to photograph people though, as you don’t really want them to notice you. I’ve started to include some people pictures if I think the person or the buzzing street full of people in the photograph will help tell a story. Scroll down to the bottom of the blogpost to see pictures from the busy streets of Khan el-Khalili. Don’t be fooled by the other seemingly people-free images of camels, pyramids and other places in Cairo though. I like to frame clutter-free photographs. It’s just what I do. Following you’ll find my take on Cairo – the take I could capture when I wasn’t working.