Photography is a great hobby but if you don't pay attention or prepare for your next shoot you could find yourself in a difficult situation. Safety is one of those things we take for granted, but shouldn't. Here are some tips and ideas on how to stay safe while shooting. It all comes down to a basic set of words:
Prepare and Be Aware
Staying safe while enjoying photography comes down to this basic statement. If you take some time to PREPARE you go out for your next shoot and pay attention (BE AWARE) to what's going on around you while you are wandering around with your camera, you will be much better off than the typical enthusiastic photographer.
Have A Plan
- Think about where you want to go, and why. Don't just wander around, especially in unfamiliar areas. Take some time to plan out when and where you want to shoot.
- Research the location ahead of time. Get an idea of where you want to go.
- Google is your friend. Use the vast resources of Mother Google to see what other photographers have captured in the area you are looking at visiting.
Let People Know Your Plans
- Give a basic itinerary with dates, times, places, etc.
- Make sure your family/friends have your phone number
- Pre-arrange a "check-in" time
- Register with rangers/authorities if necessary
Channel Your Inner Boy Scout
- Know the weather
- Have the right clothing
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order
- Have food/water if venturing into back-country
- Think about taking an emergency kit if you will be away from developed areas
Be Careful Of GPS
- GPS can be wrong-don't follow it blindly. GPS is far from perfect and if you follow it blindly you could find yourself in trouble.
- Maps are still valid, especially in remote areas. A well made map is much more useful than the GPS app on your iPhone, especially in remote areas. You should know how to read a map and use a compass to navigate if you get spun around or out and out lost.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
- Know where you are shooting.
- Keep an eye out for potential trouble. Whether you're in the back country or center of the city, keep a watchful eye on what's going on around you.
- Shoot in pairs. Sometimes it's best to bring a friend with you. Even if your friend isn't as obsessed with photography as you are, they could potentially save your butt. I know that if it wasn't for my wife Pam, I might have wandered off a cliff several times while fixated on what was in my viewfinder :-)
Be Able To Speak Even When You Can't Speak
- Use the ICE feature on your cellphone
- Have some type of medical/emergency contact info with you. I'd recommend getting something like a Road ID to let emergency responders know about you and any medical conditions you may have. I have had one for the last 6 years that I wear whenever I'm out away from home (hiking, biking, running, etc.). Thankfully, I haven't needed to use it but it's nice to know that if something were to happen to me, my family and doctor could be contacted.
Safety is one of those things we rarely think about until something bad happens. I hope these tips and suggestions will help you plan your next successful, and safe, photography outing. Remember, it takes a few extra minutes of planning to stay safe while shooting but doing so can help you avoid a lifetime of regret.
Stay safe and Happy Shooting!