The life of a travel photographer tends to look really glamorous when you are watching from social media, but have you ever wondered how it really feels to be gone for weeks on end with little sleep and dealing with crazy scenarios life throws at you, well I am here to give you the inside scoop.
In 2023 I have already traveled over five thousand miles! That accounts for long drives and airport life from running to catch connections to waiting over six hours on a delayed flight in an ice storm.
When I travel to these events we tend to live out of a hotel. Cramped spaces with people you work with are tough. You don’t get to get away from them very often but continue to push through and count down the days until you get to go home, or at least your next job.
Many of these events consist of hours on end of sitting and snapping the same series of photos over and over again. Some days we can see over 1,000 team ropers a day. Your legs go numb, Your fingers become raw from the zoom on the lens. You start to feel cross-eyed from looking through the small viewfinder day in and day out. You barely get time to run to the bathroom before you have to be back in your seat and catch the action.
It is a lot of work. For each series of photos of the riders, you have to document the image number. As the days and hours go on you start to mix up the order of the numbers as they start to just melt together. You’re fatigued, sometimes losing track of what team they are on and then having to pick up and fix what you can.
When I am working I try to do stretches during the drags or get a little bit of walking in. I move my sitting positions a lot and at times shoot standing up. Thankfully I have a monopod to do the heavy lifting of the camera.
I also try to stay off of my phone as much as I can since I look at the camera all day. It isn’t too hard to do when there is very little time to fit in a trip to the bathroom.
You may now be wondering about food. Now, in some shows, there are long enough breaks to run to the food truck and get a bite to eat. At others, that don’t get breaks we have people who are helping run the booth and bring us lunch and any drinks or anything we may need while we are in our shooting spots. I am very thankful for these runners and they sure don’t get enough credit. At some events, we have a floating photographer that relieves us one at a time to go get food and take a break before we get back to work.
At the end of it all, we clean cameras, count SD cards, pack up, and load up to hit the road. I basically have been living out of my car for a couple of weeks now. It is full of empty fast food bags, water bottles, and who knows what else. When I finally get to return home I’ll get to clean in and out, wash my overflowing duffle bag of clothes and soon enough, repack and get back on the road to my next job.
I am sure it doesn’t sound very glamorous but I have gotten to meet some incredible people along the way. I have also gotten to learn so much from so many different photographers. These are all experiences that I won’t forget and I know I will be thankful I said yes to these opportunities while I still could.
Stay tuned for a recap of my next adventures!