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Backpacking with your camera

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A view of Lake Whitney at sunrise. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A view of Lake Whitney at sunrise.

We went backpacking with the kids two weeks ago and had a great time. Besides carrying most of the food and an iron skillet up to Whitney Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness area, I brought my camera.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do on a trip like this is to remember to photograph.
Cathy and the kids walking through a field of wildflowers. By keeping my camera within easy reach during our hike, I was able to shoot on the go. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Cathy and the kids walking through a field of wildflowers. By keeping my camera within easy reach during our hike, I was able to shoot on the go.
Hiking with a heavy pack, managing children, and getting tired quickly can make photography feel like a chore. But when I return with pictures I never regret it. Sometimes I kick myself because I didn’t take enough pictures!

In any event, here are some tips for backpacking with a camera:
Smoke rises up from our campfire early in the morning. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Smoke rises up from our campfire early in the morning.
Don’t bring everything. I have oodles and oodles of equipment, but when you’re camping you have to think light and small. Even a point-and-shoot camera can be a great alternative to a big, heavy DSLR. I decided to bring the big one with one lens and plenty of batteries.
Abby and Jacob look out at the lake in the morning. Big scenes like this one are perfect for silhouettes. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Abby and Jacob look out at the lake in the morning. Big scenes like this one are perfect for silhouettes.
Keep your camera at the ready. I have shoulder strap carrying case, so instead of packing my camera away in my pack I was able to carry the camera over my shoulder with the case half open. Whenever I saw something worth a picture I could easily grab and shoot, even when I was moving.
Bacon cooking on the iron skillet. A little detail shot like this helps to tell the story. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Bacon cooking on the iron skillet. A little detail shot like this helps to tell the story.
Don’t take just one kind of photograph. It’s easy to take a couple of pictures of the trail or the Aspens, but if you're building a story using pictures it'll be worth your while to change it up. Presenting a picture story is also so much more fun than showing the same kind of pictures over and over.
We rested often and when my son Jacob decided to take a seat alongside the trail, I asked him to look up. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • We rested often and when my son Jacob decided to take a seat alongside the trail, I asked him to look up.
Make sure to share the results. It’s not enough to just take pictures, you have to share them! Get some online love by sharing a nice, tightly edited story of your trip. It goes without saying getting feedback from friends and family is super gratifying.
Abby, Jacob and Harper goofing off during one of our many breaks. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Abby, Jacob and Harper goofing off during one of our many breaks.
A fun shot of Jacob at the end of our trip with Harper in the background looking exhausted. The unusual angle came about because I was lying down, tired too. Fortunately, my camera was within easy reach. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A fun shot of Jacob at the end of our trip with Harper in the background looking exhausted. The unusual angle came about because I was lying down, tired too. Fortunately, my camera was within easy reach.
Happy Shooting!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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