How to Prep for Outdoor Photography

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These are 6 tips on how to prepare for your next outdoor photography adventure by landscape photographer Matte Hanna.

After years of shooting outdoors, I have learned that landscape photography involves a combination of being organized, being prepared and having respect for nature and fellow photographers.

Here is a slimmed-down list of my gear and tips to help you get outside and clicking.

These tips and gear choices are recommendations, never let anything keep you from shooting!

1. Keep it Simple

Slow and steady

Slow and steady | Fujifilm X100F + Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 | 1/200 f/2.8 ISO400

“One more thing, that’s all I need…”

There is a funny scene in the film “The Jerk” where the character thinks he needs only one item to move forward in his life, but he ends up snowballing into hoarding an accumulation of useless junk.

You may think you can’t shoot successfully without all your gear, but the reality is you can. All you really need is your camera and yourself.

2. Keep it comfortable

Dress wisely. I cannot overstate this. You’re already carrying your gear, so when it comes to dressing for the outdoors, the less you bring, the lighter the load.

Pack clothing essentials that have multiple uses over a day (or two). I am a big fan of layers.

  • What to wear and why

Top: Smartwool Men’s Echo Lake Full Zip Fleece. One of my favorite tops. Clothing made of wool is moisture wicking, can dry quickly, keep you warm when it’s cold and keep you cool when it’s warm.

They even keep you warm when they’re wet, and can neutralize the ensuing odors. Multiple uses win the day.

Bottom: Prana Stretch Zion Pant. Nothing matches the comfort and durability of the Stretch Zion. Quick drying and water repellence let you hike through the elements while remaining comfortable.

The sun protective fabric also rolls up and snaps in place, keeping you cool. I wear pants to keep unwanted insects and scratchy branches from getting under my skin. Literally.

Head: Beanie, neck gaiter or bandana. Keeps you warm and doubles as a sweatband, dunk it water to keep you cool.

Footwear: Forsake Range High. For trail hiking, I recommend keeping your toes and ankles protected. Light, waterproof and sturdy, these boots were comfortable right out of the box.

However, always take the time to break in your footwear before traveling long distances.

3. Know your gear

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Picture in a picture | Nikon D850

When I am hiking to a location, I like to travel as light as possible. I keep my gear down to one camera, two lenses, and filters. Don’t try and bring every lens you own.

Cutting out unnecessary lenses will lighten your load and help you get creative and comfortable with your choices. Make a list of items to put into your bag and stick to it.

It’s always a good idea to get friendly with new gear before you plan out a big trip. First-time use of new gear in the field can lead to frustrations.

Take the time to break in new equipment and get comfortable, just like a new pair of boots.

4. Plan ahead

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Sunbeam Path | Apple iPhone XS Max | 1/67 f/2.4 ISO16

From picking your locations, to checking the weather, your journey will go a lot smoother if you take the time to do some basic planning.

Apps such as PhotoPills and The Photographer’s Ephemeris can be helpful for timing the placement of the moon, sun, and stars at future locations.

Weather Apps such as Weather Underground can give you a heads up on the weather conditions.

5. Keep it safe

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Overlook at dawn | Nikon D850 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | 2.5sec f/16 ISO64

Make sure you tell others your plans for shooting, and set a time to be back off the trail. Small emergency items like water, band-aids and tape should always be in your pack.

Energy bars such as Gutsey bars take up little room and provide a quick power-up on the trail. Charge your phone fully before your trip and turn it off to save the battery for emergencies.

6. Keep it low

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Slicing light | Nikon D850 + Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Open Bulb 0.4 sec f/16 ISO64

Respect the environment and others along the way. Low impact hiking and camping help keep Mother Nature thriving and ready to share with other hikers and landscape photographers.

An easy way to curb environmental impact is by not Geotagging on Instagram.

Delicate landscapes are being hit hard by too many photographers flocking to areas to replicate photographs they see on social media. Do nature a favor: be original, choose your own adventure and keep it low.

I do plan as much as possible, but I also like to get out and shoot whether the conditions are ideal or not.

Oftentimes an imperfect atmosphere can make the best landscape photographs. Get outside and have fun.

Happy Snapping!

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit.

Matte Hanna is a landscape photographer living on the Oregon coast. Matte enjoys spending time outside with his puppy Beck, hiking and discovering locations to photograph.

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13 Comments

  1. Pat Stannard on April 28, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Matte this article is full of information that simplifies the what, when & how with stunning images. I would love you to do a workshop with those of us, our personal gear & questions regarding upgrades/ and perhaps field trips with coaching. Such a beautiful feel to the article as well.

    • Matte Hanna on May 1, 2019 at 7:33 am

      Thank you for reading Pat. I am planning on having a few field trips and workshops this summer here in Oregon. Maybe Crater Lake? I’m open for suggestions

  2. Erica Frederick Rochelle on April 28, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Great work Matte!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Graham on April 27, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Great advice! Excellent article! Thanks!

  4. Valorie Meeuwsen on April 27, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Great advice, Matte. Especially important for me is keeping it simple! I often overthink and take too much, which weighs me down to the point of not enjoying my experience as much as I had anticipated.
    I need to β€œ…choose (my) own
    adventure and keep it low.” Thanks.

    • Matte Hanna on May 1, 2019 at 7:35 am

      You are very welcome Val, thanks again for takling the time to read. Lets get out and shoot!

  5. Rebecca larkin on April 27, 2019 at 6:07 am

    What a wonderful and informative article… Such an accomplished and talented photographer – A pleasure to read it, so insightful and helpful ! A truly gifted and valued photographer ! Thanks for the great read! This photographer stands out from the rest !

    • Matte Hanna on May 1, 2019 at 7:37 am

      Thanks so much for the kind words Rebbecca. I abslolutely love your photography, keep up the amazing work!

  6. Annette Marquette on April 27, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Awesome job! Simplicity is forgotten in our technological age. Thank you for reminding us all that with the basics nature will provide, at the very least the scenery.

    • Matte Hanna on May 1, 2019 at 7:38 am

      Well put Annette! Thank you very much for taking the time to read.:)

  7. Matte on April 24, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Please feel free to leave comments and ask me any questions. Thanks! – Matte Hanna

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