Lessons from My First Photography Trip

I recently took my first ever photography trip to California. My plan was to hit up Mt. Shasta, Lassen Volcanic NP, and Lake Tahoe. I wanted to share some of the things I did right, as well as some of the things I did wrong.

What I Did Right

  • I planned ahead – Thanks to my research, I was able to get some great shots of Mt Shasta, The Milky Way, and Lake Tahoe.

  • I went at the right time – I had planned my trip for when schools and colleges had restarted and the weather was hopefully still good. This worked out perfectly: the weather was awesome and the crowds were few, especially at Lassen Volcanic NP.

  • I brought the right gear – I had bought a USB charger for my camera batteries and had the good sense to get an extension cable and a car charger to charge my batteries in the car when I went from location to location, as I was sleeping in a tent for a few nights and I would have limited access to electrical outlets.

  • I got the right bag – I spent a lot of time finding a camera bag that would fit my needs, eventually deciding on the Lowepro Flipside Trek 350. Having room for two water bottles, a place for a first aid kit, and room for food was great for hiking up and down mountains. Not to mention, the feature that allows you to twist the bag around to the front so you don’t have to put your camera bag down all the time was really useful. Plus, it was carry-on size.

  • I set aside time to relax and enjoy myself – Self-explanatory.

What I Did Wrong

  • I didn’t plan ahead well enough – I missed the fact that a couple of the places I was going charge parking fees, sp I didn’t have enough cash on me and had to go elsewhere.

  • I got the smaller bag – After hiking all day and cramming my bag full of stuff, I wish I would have gone with the 450 model over the 350. I still had room for all my camera gear, but the extra space would have been great for hiking gear.

  • I planned too many locations – In the future, I’m going to stick to one place at a time for the most part so I can really explore while keeping an eye out for good compositions. Visiting three different locations in four days was too much for my first trip.


Overall, I’d grade my first photography trip as a B+. I have a lot of room for improvement and I look forward to my next trip. If you have anything you learned from your first photography trip feel free to include it below.

About the author: Matthew Silvey is an amateur photographer who had been wanting to get into photography since college, over 10 years ago! He started doing it a little over a year ago, after deciding he was tired of waiting for the right moment. When not doing photography, Matthew is an avid hiker and fitness enthusiast. You can find more of Matthew’s work on his Instagram. This article was also published here and is being shared with permission.