9 Fundamental Trekking Photography Tips I’ve Learned from My Adventures
I got into trekking pretty late. After finishing my degree in design at the age of 28, I decided to go on a six month trip to India. I started the trip in a town called Leh which is located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The town sits at an altitude of 3,524 metres (11,562 ft), and it was there that I had my first trekking experience and discovered the passion within me. After North India, I continued trekking in Nepal, South India and even Peru. My dream is to go trekking all over the world, and I hope to get the chance to do it as long as I have the strength.
I see photography as a way to share my journey with the world, as I showcase the highlights of each adventure on my website and my Instagram. My love for photography was there before I even started trekking. Since I can remember, I have loved filming and taking pictures, and during school I started taking it more seriously. To hold a camera feels really natural for me, so when I started trekking, my camera was the first thing I packed in my bag.
Take it all in
Trekking represents a clean, clear mirror for my life. When I walk, I think about every step. When I’m somewhere on a high mountain, sometimes I feel that the walk is endless, from nowhere to nowhere, and at the same time from everything to everything. The endless space, the mountains, the valleys, the streams, the crevices and the paths. I think about the infinite beauty, and about what must have been sacrificed in order to find it. In all aspects, I feel that people walk the way they live. One will take the easy way, and another the hard way. One will move fast and then rest, and the other will move slowly and be careful. In many places, the pace of walking is up to you, and you can complete the same distance in 8 or 30 days.
Focus on what matters
Photography doesn’t have a specific role in my adventures. The only thing that I aim for is that photography doesn’t become the main purpose or goal of a trek. It’s there in the back of my mind, but I don’t let it distract me. It’s like meditation, and I try to open my eyes and my heart as much as I can, because I understand that I will never see what I am seeing again — and I appreciate the beauty of these far and wild landscapes.
Learn about your destination
I do most of my research online, then try talking to people or going to lectures about the area, but I never like to plan too much in advance. Once I get to a location I take it from there one step at the time. I like things to be dynamic on my trips, and most of the time, I won’t even know where I’m going to sleep until I get to a new town. This is a part of the trip that I really like, because until I’m there I can’t know where I want to go, or what I want to do.
Take care of your gear
I always carry my gear in my backpack and cover it whenever I need to, so it won’t get lost or stolen. By the end of this year, I’m planning to buy the Panasonic GH5. I want to start making videos as well as stills. I think this camera gives you the best value for your money. You can take really high quality videos and stills. The biggest plus is that the camera is mirrorless, so it’s really lightweight — a perfect trekking companion!
Improvise, adapt, overcome
The main difficulty for me is adapting to high altitudes. To overcome that, I take pills and normally go on a shorter trek before the long one. This helps my body to adapt. Another difficulty now is that I’m married, a trek often means a long period of time without any kind of communication between my wife and me. This isn’t the case for all treks but when I trekked in the Huayhuash in Peru, for example, there was a period of nine days without any means of communication and that was really hard.
Expect the unexpected
I found myself in the 2014 Nepal Snowstorm. It was a natural disaster that happened in central Nepal during the month of October and resulted in the death of 43 people. I was trekking in the Annapurna circuit while this happened. An emergency helicopter rescued me and took me to a hospital in Kathmandu. I suffered really minor injuries, but wasn’t able to get off the mountain because of snow blindness (temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays).
Be open to new experiences
I met my wife while trekking in Nepal. After I finished the “Annapurna Circuit” trek, and she had finished the “Everest Base Camp” trek, we met in a bar in Kathmandu. It’s also always so interesting to meet the local people of each region. I love to meet people that are living in these intense rural conditions all year round. Talking to them about their lives and meeting their children can be the most exciting part of a trek.
There are many photographers whose work I admire. Some of my favorites include Magnus Wennman, Frans Lanting, Matthieu Paley, Michael Yamashita, and Simon Baxter. Their photos inspire me to continue developing my style and improving the end-results.
Love what you do
My best advice is that if you love nature, trekking and photography then just do it! Remember to stay safe and understand it can be dangerous at times — so be sure to prepare yourself as best you can.
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By Yoav Bender
Travel photographer, motion designer, animator, and illustrator.