Great Tips from the VagaBrothers

Packing light and tight is always tough, so how do you make sure you bring all the gear you need without breaking your back? The VagaBrothers have a great video to answer questions that I hear all the time. Sit back and Enjoy! 

They have a bunch of nifty tips and their fun to watch!  If you have any other Q's about various types of kits, cameras and toys...  don't hesitate to drop me a line or lemme know in the comments below. 

Great Bloggers are Gold Dust!

A decade ago Arthur Brisbane famously said “Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words" and over the course of my journalism studies at the University of Oregon, I couldn’t agree more.  I craved the craft of photography. It was a journey… the time, the people and the chase for good light was always an adventure.  Why would I want to hunker down with a pen and paper, when I could be out experiencing the stories. I can’t lie… anything that got me out of writing class was warmly welcome.  

After college, technology shifted a bit and I was jumping for joy! Everything I needed share great stories could fit in a pack back!  Cameras, laptop and hard drives…  I thought for a split second, I wouldn’t have to write a single word for the rest of my career, but oh how I was wrong and completely naive.  

Great storytellers have painted pictures of far away places for hundreds of years using imagination and carefully crafted paragraphs. They didn’t need photos or videos, they could steal our hearts and minds with words!  I loved hearing them and reading them, but for some reason writing them wasn’t my cup of tea.  I figured the the power of imagery would trump the written word any day, especially since every image was worth a thousand words.  

When I started working in the travel industry with writers, I got a bit flustered.  While I was on a shoot for Hilton Hawaii sweating bullets running around capturing photos + videos, the writers were soaking up the experience and relaxing with a cocktail in hand.  “Why didn’t they have to work as hards as me?,” I thought to myself, but three years on and a much better understanding of the industry… I was wrong again.  They were working, I just didn’t see it.  Their countless hours of scribbling, crinkled papers and deleted drafts all happened behind closed doors.  

Over the years I’ve learned that the art of writing and the power of a well crafted story is priceless.  "Bloggers are game changers," says Forbes Magazine and are the laying the foundation of a framework that will house content for years to come. With every word they are sifting, sorting and organizing the internet, so it’s perfectly packaged for magazines, news articles and the next wave of storytelling. So my hats off to you all and a belated thank you for all your hard work!  Great writers are gold dust! 

Visual storytelling has always resonated with me.  It’s beautiful, emotionally engaging and leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside when done well, however when those skills are blended with craftsmanship of writers and the written word… it’s absolutely magical. 

If you have a favourite Blog or website...

Please Share below, so we can all enjoy them. 

4 Instagram tips for photographers

1. Be you!

Post what you care about and stick to it. Looking over my Instagram account always brings a smile to my face, because it sums me up to a tee and reminds me why I do what I do.  If you're a budding photographer looking to grow your following... focus what you want to be known for and share your best stuff.  

2. Take care.

Not every image is great, so don't share them all.  Treat your Instagram account like Top Gun... Only the best of the best and leave the rest.  Don't take it personally, nobody is perfect and we all need practice. Focus on composition, content & quality and you're on the road to success.  

3. Learn from the best.

Find & follow people that inspire you and make you want to be a better photographer.  We all have different styles... so search, discover and fill your photog cup full with your faves. Look far and wide...  Flip through magazines, look at adverts or head into an art gallery... beautiful imagery is every.

4. Share the love.

If you like it, let them know.  A double tap is great, but a few words goes a long way.  Instagram is a social media platform, so get socialising.  You've got to give if you want to grow.  

Join the journey on Instagram @justinweiler

Q&A with Heather Cowper

Heather Cowper is a talented travel blogger who's also an amateur photographer. While she's not a DSLR user, she still has some great advice for photography on the road.

Personal site and

Awards & achievements
The best award is when I get a comment or feedback.

What’s your favorite country to visit? Why?

Ecuador was a highlight — I was there a few years ago and travelled with a couple of friends, staying in a rainforest community and travelling by dug-out canoe with the locals, camping on sand-banks by the river. This was the trip that inspired me to start my travel blog at I also love exploring the highways and byways of England and being a tourist in my own country. Plus, I never thought I'd love mountains until I started walking the Tour de Mont Blanc through France and Switzerland with a friend. We've been doing it in easy bit-sized stages, and I'll be back to do another bit this autumn.

vorite travel photograph you’ve taken?
I'd been sitting having a Mezze lunch in a small cafe in the backstreets of Sidon in Lebanon when the Friday prayers finished and everyone came streaming out of the mosque opposite the cafe. I made my way over to the cake seller who had wheeled his cart to the entrance of the mosque to buy some cakes but he wouldn't accept my money — gesturing to the mosque, he told me it was God's money, meaning that he wanted to make me feel welcome. To me, it encapsulates the Arab tradition of hospitality and the small kindnesses that you receive when you're travelling. You can read the story here.

Camera(s) you use:

An old Panasonic Lumix, but I'm researching buying one of the new compact cameras that have interchangeable lenses. For video, I also use a Panasonic HD video camera — it was quite expensive, but I treated myself for my last birthday.

Five accessories you never travel without:
I'm pretty minimal — my main obsession is having enough batteries and memory cards.

Magazines/websites you visit for inspiration:

For photography that tells a travel story, I love and

What is the last place you’ve traveled to?
This year, I've been to Texas with the family and am just back from Guernsey, which couldn't be more different. In Texas, it was all about Tex-Mex, cowboys, and gun culture, while Guernsey is like stepping back into an prettier, cleaner and less commercial version of England 20 years ago, yet with a dark past once you find out about the German occupation of the island in World War II. When I visit any destination, it's all about connecting with what makes the place unique and different.

Top tips for photographers/videographers?
I don't regard myself as that good of a photographer. I compose the best shots I can, take loads of photos and hope that some of them will come out well. I think that when you're trying to take a travel photo, a shot with a person in it is always more interesting than one without, and good close-up photos of local people will always draw you in.

Travel sites you use?

I research my travels through the destination websites and then home in on locations & places to stay through their websites.

Gear Review the first: the rugged domke bag

As an avid traveler and bag junkie, I've found that picking the right bag for a project is where every journey begins. As my go-to bag,  this one has made the list for all of my travels. Thanks, Domke, for making solid & dependable bags — keep them coming!

To Purchase: Domke F-5XB Shoulder and Belt Ruggedwear Bag

The slimming of travel photography

While it may seem a bit chunky for the road, your DSLR takes high-quality images and can be your best friend. Besides, look at the portable darkrooms travel photographers used to take with them — the DSLR is pretty small in comparison.

The travelling photography studio of William Barton Micklethwaite in Ireland.

Travel photography used to be a novelty, and people could purchase prints of geographic landmarks and the untamed wilderness to vicariously live what they could not go to see. It’s still appealing today, as well as more easy and to capture and share than ever with modern-day equipment.

 If you’re interested in the history of photography, check out this blog post from Travel Photography History. It’s a year old, but the information’s still a fresh, interesting look back into the past.

Q&A with Eric Parker

Eric Parker, amateur photographer

Personal site
Twitter ericpsarangi
Other social media sites

What’s your favorite country to visit? Why?

India — I've been visiting India regularly since 1965 and it never ceases to amaze, frustrate, inspire and educate me. It is always rich in every sense — emotional, technological and social.

Favorite travel photograph you’ve taken?

It was in Florence.
I was walking with my wife through a busy square and this trio suddenly whizzed by — because I always have my camera in hand, with finger on the trigger, I swung, panned and got off three shots — only one was not motion blurred.

What’s the best part of carrying your DSLR when on the road?
Having a camera constantly at the ready allows me to grab a shot the moment the scene attracts me, as well as getting home to savour it all.
For me, travel is extremely stressful, and getting home to really see where I've been is crucial.


Camera(s) you use:
Nikon D500 and D7000

Favorite lens(es):
35 mm prime — street
18-200 — walkabout

Five accessories you never travel without:
I carry virtually no accessories, no flash, no tripod, no extra lenses.
Slingshot bag is great, but never big enough for gear and lunch.

Magazines/websites you visit for inspiration:
Black and white mag
Sartorialist blog
Stephen Bulger gallery site
ICP NY site
MOCCA site

What is your current project all about?

People on the street.

Top tips for photographers/videographers?

Always carry your camera, turned on, no lens cap, finger ready to click. I shoot almost all my shots without framing through viewfinder or LCD. Shoot blind, shoot lots, edit later.

Travel sites you use?
I do most of my research on YouTube.

Q&A with Brandon Setter

Brandon Setter, professional videographer

Personal site

What’s your favorite country to visit? Why?

I've had the opportunity to shoot video and travel to many countries, including England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand, Poland, Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, and, of course, the good ol' USA… but I'd have to say my favorite is a three-way toss-up between Thailand, England and Switzerland.

Thailand, because they have such an incredibly rich culture and experiencing new customs, food, and life is so fascinating to me. The people in Thailand are so kind, there are endless photo/video opportunities, and everything is cheap, cheap, cheap.

England, because my time in London was a blast — there are so many things to do there, and even more to shoot. Not to mention, in the UK the primary language is English, which just makes getting around much more simple.

Switzerland, because I hiked in the Swiss Alps near Zermatt not far from the Matterhorn. I've never experienced mountains that rugged in my life and boy, did they provide some rad photo ops. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Favorite travel photograph you’ve taken? Best video?

Attending the Thai Lantern Festival in Chaing Mai Thailand was the single most amazing thing I've ever seen with my own two eyes anywhere in the world. By no means is this my best video work, but this is some of the most memorable video I've shot:

As to my favorite photo, here's the blog post about my trek in the Swiss Alps and the first photo in the album may be my favorite travel photo (HDR).


What’s the best part of carrying your DSLR when on the road?

Because I primarily do video with my DSLR, I'm most excited about having an assortment of great lenses at my fingertips. I think back to the days when I had a dedicated video camera in my bad along with my SLR to shoot photos; not only was that a bulky gear bag to carry, but my video was never up to par with my SLR photos. Now everything has changed, thanks to DSLR — my photos and video are captured by one single glorious device and the lenses are, without question, my favorite part of the setup. Not to mention all of the cool peripherals, too.


Camera(s) you use:

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Red Epic (I rent this occasionally)
All my gear:

Favorite lens(es):

Canon 50mm f/1.2 L (Favorite lens of all time for just about anything, but especially wonderful for shooting interviews.)
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L (Favorite all-around landscape/travel lens — you'll see this on my camera on most trips most of the time.)
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L (Always in my bag and great for interviews on the 7D, given the crop sensor, and so fun for wide portraits on the 5D Mark II.)
Canon 100m f/2.8 Macro L (So fun for event video, and macro stuff is a blast, too.)
Canon 135mm f/2.0 L (my favorite long lens ever, and amazing for portraits.)
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L (Always in my bag for anything distant — love using it in the wilderness. Sometimes, I just go with the 16-35 and the 70-200 for travel.)
I don't own a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L (You'd think I would... but for some reason, not even totally sure why, I don't really care for this lens — too heavy, I think.)

Five accessories you never travel without:

1. I always always, always bring a GoPro

2. "Triggertrap" intervalometer app/tool for iPhone. Perfect for making unreal time-lapses

3. Zoom H4n Recorder and Boom Mic — I never leave without some quality audio gear — you just never know if there will be an opportunity to do a little documentary filmmaking. Audio can make or break a film.

4. Pelican 1510 Case with Dividers and Lid Organizer — my favorite camera case.

5. A simple Spring A Clamp with a stick-on GoPro plate stuck on it. With this, I can clamp my GoPro to just about anything and it was only $10.

I'm sure there are more but these are some favorites!

Magazines/websites you visit for inspiration:

Vimeo Staff picks are a must for finding cool inspiring videos.

I frequent and for everything, from the inspiring to the ridiculous videos.

I keep tabs on a few cool blogs for anything filmmaking related
and many more…

What is your current project all about, and what's your last place traveled?

I just got back from a completely random bucket-list trip to Alaska! We road-tripped 1,285 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks and back, driving through Denali National Park along the way. We hiked Mount Healy, climbed on the Alaska pipeline, chased moose, caribou, beaver and bear, and chilled out in some sweet hot springs. It was epic!

A favorite recent trip and project was to Thailand to tell the story of the Lanna Cafe, a nonprofit organization that brings aid to the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. Lanna Cafe changes lives by teaching the Hill Tribes people to grow coffee instead of opium, and it goes beyond coffee in to teaching a new way of life. My job was to tell this story and follow the coffee bean from the mountains of Thailand back to the USA and into your cup. Every cup of coffee makes a difference. Watch the film here:

Top tips for photographers/videographers?

Never stop asking "Why?” I believe it's crucial to know the WHY behind everything I do, not only as a creative but in all aspects of my life. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." — Simon Sinek

And never stop learning. The day you stop learning is your last day as a creative.

Travel sites you use?

Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, Airline Website, CheapOair


Anybody in London for the fine month of June?

It’s June 2012, and London Festival of Photography is back for its second year. A plethora of venues will take part in the city-wide event: Tate Modern, British Library, Victoria and Albert, to name just a few. It’s chock full of talks, exhibits and workshops.

Most of the exhibits are now open to the public. Check out all the details at the festival’s website. Kevin Meredith also has a great blog post summarizing the main exhibits, from the Great British Public exhibit, which depicts street life, to Steve Bloom’s Beneath the Surface collection of 1970s South Africa during Apartheid. Starting June 21st, there’s even an exhibit called The Gaddafi Archives that investigates the recent events in Libya.

For all of us DSLR travelers, be sure to check out the International Street Photography exhibit on Oxford Street.

The Festival has a fantastic workshop lineup, too — Jodi Bieber will teach a four-day Finding Your Photographic Voice class and there will be several photo walks and classes on after dark photography. Full lineup here:

Image by Arnhel de Serra, part of International Street Photography exhibit

Gear reviews on their way

The weather in London was unseasonably cold at the start of the month, but it’s warmed up quite a bit — the South Bank yesterday was a beautiful setting for a shoot. Our DSLR Traveler crew trekked around to take some footage we’ll have to you soon, from advice on the correct way to hold your camera to advice about the best gear to travel with. Here's a list of what's to come:

• Gorillapod

• Sennheiser MKE 400

• Lowepro Stealth bag

• Domke F-5XB bag

• Key accessories


Have any questions for us? Anything you'd like us to review? Let us know!

Q&A with Guru Khalsa

Guru Khalsa, professional photographer/videographer

Personal site:




What’s your favorite country to visit? Why?
My favorite country is always the one I am in currently. The world is such a diverse and inspiring place, I feel like everywhere you turn there is another amazing story to share with imagery.

But, if I had to pick a place that has a special place in my imagination, it would be Costa Rica. From the amazing ceviche and landscapes to the Pura Vida lifestyle, Costa Rica is full of life and adventure.

Favorite travel photograph you’ve taken?

 I was commissioned to travel to Ireland with my team and document a wedding with photos and a video. We took the opportunity to start a project called “Aging in Isolation” there. We teamed up with a local community resource center and drove around rural Ireland interviewing the most amazing characters for a couple days.

The woman in the photograph to the right had lost her husband a year before I took her portrait. She lives with her cats in a desolate place. When I travel, I focus on the people, not the landscapes — they tell the stories of a place.


What’s the best part of carrying your DSLR when on the road?
Anything worth doing is worth documenting — and no adventure is complete unless shared. The camera opens doors. It creates windows for others to see through your eyes.


Camera(s) you use:
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Favorite lens(es):
50mm 1.2

Five accessories you never travel without:
MKE 400 mic
580EX II Speedlite flash
Think Tank Bag

Magazines/websites you visit for inspiration:
Facebook. My friends and I follow each others’ adventures all over the world. We post the art we create and virtually high five each other.

Being inspired by your community is always the best. With the amount of media out there, it helps me get excited when I know the person who created it. It also feeds my competitive spirit of wanting to one up them.

What is your current project all about?
I’m working on developing the Media Guide program for Campfire Creative. Media Guides work with film and photography and connect with nonprofits and organizations around the world — such as Walking Tree Travel — to document people’s journeys and stories. This helps with marketing and funding for programs while raising awareness and social responsibility.

Top tips for photographers/videographers?
Don't slow down. Always say, "Yes, if..." Being there is the secret to success.

Travel sites you use?
Expedia, Kayak

Join the journey and share your story.

Traveling the world with your trusty DSLR? Maybe you should join other citizens of the Earth on a single day — May 15 — as they come together through photography.’s mission is to have people everywhere upload one photo to share and inspire diverse perspectives on everyday life. The photos will all be displayed online, and some will even be collected in a book.

The project is aimed at everyone, professional and amateur, and asks contributors to map their images to one of three main categories: Home, Work, and Connections. It was initiated by the nonprofit foundation Expressions of Humankind as a tribute “to the contemporary potential of photography: as a documentation tool as well as a communication tool.” Sounds right up your alley.