5 tips to help you make the most when traveling with film


Travel is one of the ways we film photographers get inspiration and refill our creative juices. There’s nothing like going to places old and new, burning our films with breath-taking scenes and interesting stories along the way.

With this in mind, we had a quick chat with Sunny16 Lab’s Jed Ray Calara and put together these quick tips. Hopefully, these would help you enjoy the journey with your analogue companion/s and bring home stunning photos to remember your adventures by.

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Plan ahead and make photo opportunities a part of your travel research

There’s nothing more disappointing than getting back from your trip and finding out that you missed a totally picture-perfect secret spot or colourful event. We usually get this covered from our preliminary research. But if you’re after photos that are out of the ordinary, do extra research on festivals, places of interests, photography workshops, side trips, and meet-ups that can make it possible for you.

“I usually plan ahead so I can decide if I want to shoot color or black and white,” Jed shared with us. “I still go to the usual tourist spots but I don’t highlight the place itself. I usually take photos of people and try to shoot candid shots,” he added.

Bring cameras that will allow you to get a variety of shots

As a rule of thumb, having more than one camera with you increases your chances of getting more variety in your photos. This is especially handy if you’re heading somewhere that offers strikingly different settings, subjects, and light conditions.

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Jed also told us that he finds this helpful. “I always bring my Leica M2 with a Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon for general travel and street photography. Sometimes, I also bring a medium format camera, either a Pentax 645NII or a Bronica SQ-A depending on my mood.”

Keep your gear and accessories organized

Making sure that your analogue arsenal is always in order helps you become a more systematic and efficient photographer. For example, organizing your film stash as you go lets you prevent accidents such as reusing an exposed roll.

Jed keeps his 35mm and 120 films organized with the Japan Camera Hunter film cases and brings a marker to label his films. You can also color code your films with colored dot stickers, use a separate pouch or case for exposed films and extra batteries, and store your lenses in thick socks.

Make sure your films are protected when you travel

It’s easier to secure your cameras, lenses, and accessories with the myriad of cases and bags available. However, keeping your prized emulsions protected from the elements requires a little bit more work.

When flying with high ISO films, Jed puts his films in a protective bag that shields films with ISO 800 and above from the airports’ X-ray scanners. He also suggests to hand carrying and requesting for a manual inspection of your films.

“I carry that (films) with my hand carry stuff. I heard people check those in but scanners for checked luggage are stronger (have stronger x-rays) so I won’t push my luck with that,” he says.

Heat and moisture are also potential problem for your films. Make sure your films aren’t exposed to intense heat for extended periods of time in your bag or car when you travel. With the Philippines being a very humid country, Jed also suggests putting silica gels in your bag to keep moisture at bay.

Related article: Does x-ray scanning really damage film?

Keep a film photography travel log

Ever had trouble remembering the details of your travel photos? Keeping a dedicated film photography log should keep that from happening. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; it can be a pocket-sized notebook that you can slip inside your camera bag or pocket. Pair it with a retractable pen so you don’t have to bother with the cap when you go around.

Some suggestions on what to write down: date + time + place, camera + film combination, camera settings, and a side story or note about your shots.

Got a tip that you think should be on this list? Leave a comment below to let us know.

Joy Celine Asto

A budding writer, aspiring photographer, and part-time traveler from Manila. Finds bliss in exploring the world around her and documenting them in photos and stories. Runs on caffeine, lives on books, savors good music, and thrives in everything creative. Also a full-time cat-mom.