Ian Plant: Planning Your Next Photography Trip

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Ian Plant is an awesome landscape photographer who travels all over the world taking some of the most stunning images. Not only has Ian’s work has been frequently published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, he is also contributing editor to Popular Photography magazine, a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography magazine, and a Tamron Image Master. In addition, Ian is the author of numerous books and instructional videos.

Because we have enjoyed Ian’s work for many years, we were naturally delighted when Ian agreed to share with  InFocus Magazine how to plan for a trip to your next bucket list location. Here is what he had to say:

Eternal-Mirror (1)

Canon 5D MKIII, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8, polarizer filter, 3-stop ND filter, ISO 100, f/11, 30s

How do you go about selecting a Bucket List Location? Does time of year matter?
I look for places that fire my imagination. I often learn about locations from news articles, Internet research, and even Discovery Channel specials. Believe it or not, I keep an actual bucket list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that lists locations with notes about best times to visit, etc. I make an effort to cross as many locations off the list as I can every year, but the list is always growing faster than I can travel.

For some places, certain times of the year are better than others, so I try to plan accordingly.  I also have to plan around my schedule of assignment work, photo workshops and tours, and various speaking obligations I have throughout the year.


Canon 70D, Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/500s

What photography equipment do you take with you? Any must-haves? What do you recommend other than photography equipment?
International travel can be grueling, so I’ve learned to travel as light as I can. When going to a landscape destination, I usually only bring two camera bodies, two or three lenses, and a lightweight tripod. My 16-35mm wide-angle zoom lens is always with me, as most of my landscape work is with this lens. When shooting wildlife, I have to bring more equipment, but one lens that always goes with me is my Canon 200-400mm lens with built-in 1.4x extender. This fabulous zoom covers the vast majority of my wildlife needs. In addition to my photography equipment, I usually travel with my MacBook Pro so that I can process images on the go (which saves me a lot of time when I return from travel since I usually have to catch up with client requests, administrative duties, and an avalanche of emails) and I always bring a portable external hard drive to back up raw files and processed images.


Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 200-400mm f/4 lens with built-in 1.4x converter, ISO 500, f/4, 1/500s

What do you do (photographically-speaking) when things don’t go right?
Bad weather is always a challenge and there is nothing worse than taking an expensive trip and having poor conditions for photography. I usually try to plan trips that are at least two to three weeks in length; this maximizes my chances for getting good conditions. It’s pretty rare to be somewhere for three weeks and not to have at least a few days when things come together nicely. When things go bad – and they often do when traveling – it’s best to keep a positive attitude and to go with the flow. I always stay flexible, adapting to local conditions as necessary to make sure I get something good from my trips.


Canon 5D MKIII, Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/22, 5s

What are some common non-photography challenges that you may run into?
I’ve been lucky so far, and haven’t run into any major problems. In some places, personal safety has been a concern and I’ve had my fair share of flight cancellations because of weather. Equipment failures can also be a problem, so I always bring a backup camera and I try to have zoom lenses with some overlapping functionality so that, if I lose or destroy one, I can keep on shooting. When traveling in countries where you don’t know the language or aren’t comfortable getting around on your own, it makes sense to hire a local tour company. Although it does make the trip a bit more expensive, it also makes the experience safer and more productive. That said, if you can find a way to go off on your own, the experience can be much more rewarding.

Now that you are ready to travel to take those stunning photos, the only question that remains is… where is your next bucket list trip?

About Author Ian Plant

World-renowned professional photographer Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to many leading photo magazines, Managing Editor of Outdoor Photography Guide, and a Tamron Image Master. Ian is also the author of numerous books and instructional videos. Ian travels the world, seeking out the hidden spaces in between the familiar, in his never-ending quest to inspire and educate others in the art of photography.