Advertising and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Shares Her Packing Tips for Travel

Advertising and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Shares Her Packing Tips for Travel

Greetings!  I’m packing for my upcoming trip with National Geographic Expeditions to Iceland and I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years about how to make traveling a little more comfortable.  I estimate that I spend about half the year on the road in hotels, airplanes, airports, ships, boats, surfboards, cars, trains and just walking around.  It can be exhilarating and exhausting, so I’ve learned a few things that make everything from camping to glamping a little more pleasant.

  • Stay Organized.  The best thing to do while traveling is to develop good organizational habits.  This makes everything from passing through airport security to checking into hotels, to dealing with lost luggage, a lot easier. I photograph my luggage both inside and out so that in the dreadful event that it’s lost, I have a photo to show the airline and/or insurance company.
  • Packing Cubes Are Your Friend! In March, I had to travel to the East Coast to give a TEDx talk, (you can’t wear black or red for the video), head directly from there to Ireland to photograph a 2 week story in the bitter cold, (picture horizontal rain and blowing snow while carrying a carbon fiber tripod and a heavy camera kit), then head straight to the Caribbean to teach photography on a luxury yacht, (think 90 degree heat and opulent accommodations).  Just trying to work out what shoes to take was a challenge, not to mention having to wear arctic gear for shooting outdoors as well as some nice dresses for dinner on board the SY Sea Cloud.  When I pack my clothes, I separate everything into cubes based on clothing categories: dresses, socks, pajamas, bottoms, etc… Then, using white tape and a sharpie, I label each cube with its contents.  When I’m staying in a different hotel every night, my suitcase is already organized as though it were a closet.  Even if I’m exhausted and in a dark and unfamiliar hotel room, I can always find my clean shirts and my toothbrush.
A few of my packing cubes that will go in the gear bag for padding.
  • Pick Smart Travel Clothing.  Sorry guys, this is a post for the lady travelers 🙂 I wear skirts when I travel.  For one thing, they are much more comfortable for long haul flights, or hiking, than pants. They are also slightly dressier than jeans or sweatpants. I choose the Royal Robbins Cargo Skirt because it is made of stretchy, water-wicking fabric, so if you spill something, it’s easy to clean.  In my skirt pockets I can fit a small wallet, passport, iPhone X, Kleenex, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some aspirin.  This way, I don’t have to dig around in a bag at security when they ask for my ID, nor do I have to rifle through my purse to find a credit card to buy a sandwich on the plane. I also slip a Shout Wipe into my pocket in case I spill, or am spilled on.  On my last flight to Dublin, I dripped mustard on my skirt.  I used a Shout Wipe on it on the plane, then when I got to my hotel, I just rinsed the skirt in water in the sink.  Not only was it not stained, the skirt looked freshly laundered! I wrote about my favorite travel clothes in a previous blog here, so if you want to read on, there is more info!
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Royal Robbins Women’s Discovery skirt. Great for airline travel!
  • Your Medicine Is the Best Medicine.  There is nothing worse than getting sick when you’re traveling.  When you are staying in a place with limited resources, it pays to pack a few extra things for those “just-in-case” situations.  My favorite cough drops are Ricola Wild Berry and are difficult to find in the best of situations.  I pick up a Family Pack size every so often and pack a snack bag of them in my First Aid kit.  It is nice to have a small comfort like cough drops when you’re feeling miserable.  I also put Wet Ones and some lavender scented organic hand sanitizer into my kit.  In an attempt to avoid getting sick, I use the Wet Ones to wipe down my airplane tray table and I use the lavender hand sanitizer on my hotel pillow, which not only kills germs, the lavender scent is a natural sleep aid. A Benadryl stick comes in handy if you get bitten by just about anything.  It’s small enough to carry and doesn’t leak like a lot of other liquids. Deep Woods OFF! Wipes are not as messy as other insect repellants and are convenient if you really need to use this powerful chemical. A pocket size of Kleenex tissues is handy for just about anything, and don’t forget to floss!
  • Bar Soap. One of the latest trends in hotels is the bulk shampoo/shower gel/body lotion.  I really appreciate the fact that these decrease packaging waste.  The problem for me is that I cannot tolerate lemon scented cleaners and it seems that lemon verbena is the scent du jour.  I always carry a small bar of unscented soap in my toiletries kit when I’m gone for longer than an overnight trip.
  • Sunscreen. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen is my new go-to sunscreen for the face, neck, ears, etc… It is both broad spectrum and reef safe.  I like the sample size for my kit, and then get the 50ml for everyday use.
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Some of my travel essentials: Kleenex, Dental Floss, Ricola Cough Drops, Bacitracin Antibiotic Ointment in a travel size, Advil Cold &Sinus Medicine, a bar of soap, Benadryl Itch Relief Stick, Lysol Spray, EO Hand Sanitizer, Shout Wipes, Wet Ones and OFF! Deep Woods Wipes.

For those of you who are traveling to some of the cooler places on the planet, the next section is an update on my favorite travel gear.  This may come in handy if you are joining me in my forthcoming trips to Iceland, Antarctica or Alaska.

  • Women’s Patagonia Down Sweater This jacket is lightweight, warm, warm when wet, packable, and provides good color for pictures.  I have two – one with a hood and one without.  You can layer them easily for extra warmth, which is a necessity when in Antarctica.
Here are my Patagonia tops, ready for the suitcase. Lightweight and stuffable!
  • These Boots are Made for Expedition Travelknee high neoprene boots from the MUCK company keep your feet dry, even when you submerge them completely for long periods of time.  They have a fleece lining for extra warmth. However, if you are traveling with Lindblad/National Geographic, you may want to consider renting them.  I tried the rentals out and they are great, plus it means you don’t have to haul them around the world – they can take up the better part of a suitcase. My Ariat Fatbaby Cowboy Boots are also waterproof, have a grippy sole with a wide toe box and are actually cute with a skirt. Keen Hiking Boots  are top notch because although they aren’t as waterproof as the MUCK Boots, they hold up well under wet conditions and are fairly lightweight.  I’ve had mine for years and although they aren’t completely waterproof, they still stay fairly dry.
  • Red Ledge Rain Pants Rock! These lined, waterproof pants are the best. They are warm and unzip down both legs so as you warm up you can cool off as needed. I picked up a pair in Sitka because the ones I had bought for the trip were insufficient for the Alaska deluge. I’ve been using them ever since not only in Alaska but at both poles.
  • Buff Headgearfor Warmth and Style: These are indispensable as I have very sensitive ears.  I wear them all the time in both cold and warm weather as a way to tame my hair in the breeze but also a way to cover my ears without ungainly headwear.  They make them in a light merino wool as well as a cotton/poly blend for warmer climates.  I often wear them surfing or SUPing to protect the top of my head from getting sun.  They are also good to wear when snorkeling to help keep your hair out of your mask.
  • ACCESSORIZE!  I always carry a few carabiners for my water bottle and lens wipes. Drybags are better than ziplocks to keep your gear dry in the rain or while you’re transiting in a zodiac. I carry these 3 for a range of purposes. The ThinkTank Rapid Belt with a Hubba Hubba Hiney and Digital Holster are great for keeping all of your gear on hand but hands free. Each camera bag from ThinkTank also comes with a rain fly which is super handy.  I use the BlackRapid Hybrid Breathe when I’m using a 2 camera setup, and also have leashes for them.
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On assignment for National Geographic Traveler in Canada at Peyto Lake with the Think Tank Camera System and my Canon DSLR cameras.

CAMERA GEAR. What’s the best choice?  This is a question I am asked frequently, and there is no easy answer.  I still carry Canon DSLR cameras.  My brain and body are molded to the form and function of these cameras.  I love the sharp glass, responsiveness of the shutter and the control over everything using external buttons as opposed to having to dig through a menu to find a function.  Even the custom function buttons on some of the newer cameras, which are designed to put those at your fingertips, don’t seem to live up to their promise, for my purposes.  That said, my new favorite travel camera is the Sony RX10 III. (Note: They have since released the RX10 IV). This is a great, all-around travel camera that is fairly compact.  What blows me away is the fact that it has a 24-600mm optical zoom!!!  Seriously.  That’s very cool.  And it’s pretty fast.  The widest aperture is f2.4-4, but what disappoints me is that it switches to f4 maximum pretty quickly, so you can’t exploit the shallow focus once you’ve gone beyond about 35mm.  But for most travel photos, this camera has everything you need to shoot both cityscapes and wildlife.  It has a burst mode, is completely silent and can be controlled remotely with your smartphone.  It’s also very easy to send an image to your phone, thus not having the inconvenience of downloading an image and then transferring it to your iPhoto library.  It doesn’t allow for interchangeable lenses, but who needs anything else with the zoom range on this camera.  And it’s optical!  So for the money, this is my pick.  I found a blog post comparing the Canon 5DMK IV and the Sony RX10IV, and it covers all the things I would cover, so here it is.

Editorial, Commercial and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Gives TEDx Talk at EHC

Editorial, Commercial and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Gives TEDx Talk at EHC

TEDxEHC1 (1)Last month I was invited to give a TEDx talk at the Emory and Henry College in Virginia and it was a smashing success!  This was my first TED talk and I was asked to address what it’s like to have a DIY career as a travel photographer for big name clients like National Geographic  and the New York Times. It was a challenge to memorize a 12 minute talk because although I’ve done a lot of public speaking, I’m used to the crutch of a podium and my computer for prompting me in the right direction.  The other pressure came from knowing that you have 6 or so video cameras trained on you, recording your every breath.  It took many meetings over Skype with the TEDx committee at the college to settle on the final monologue, which focuses on the importance of other people who help make your career and dreams possible.  The talk offers some encouraging words for young photographers, so feel free to share this with anyone who you feel might benefit.

Enjoy and thanks for visiting!

2017 The Year in Pictures for Travel and Editorial Photographer Susan Seubert

2017 The Year in Pictures for Travel and Editorial Photographer Susan Seubert

My how time flies! 2017 was another whirlwind of travel and exploration: I visited both poles, watched dolphins in Mexico, went whale watching in Hawaii, marched with three million of my fellow Americans in Washington, visited castles in England, had my first true Guinness in Ireland, hiked along the coast in Wales and explored Vancouver, BC by boat. I took over 20,000 photos while on assignment this year which although is not a record, it’s certainly a lot of images!  Below are a few of my favorites, marking my global journey for this past year.  My hope is that by showing the beauty and diversity of this marvelous world, that you will be inspired to travel.

The view of Mt. Hood and downtown Portland, Oregon from Pittock Mansion in Forest Park

I started the year off on assignment for Vox Media, shooting a story about my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Here is the view of Mt. Hood from Pittock Mansion.

Puerto los Gatos, Baja, Mexico, Gulf of California

First stop on the 2017 World Tour: Baja! Always one of my favorite places on Earth, the Gulf of California is wild and beautiful. We enjoyed a sunset beach bbq at Puerto los Gatos.

Women's March on Washington, Washington, DC, USA

Second stop: Washington D.C. for the Women’s March. We will persist!

Humpback Whale watching from a large, inflatable raft in the 'Au 'au channel off of the coast of Lahaina on the island of Maui, Hawaii, USA

Third stop: The ‘Au ‘au channel off of the coast of Maui to witness the annual migration of Humpback Whales from Alaska. We’ll be heading back there this year!

Booth Island, Antarctica

Next up, Antarctica in February. This was the last trip of the Antarctic season, so we explored the southern ocean to see incredible landscapes and wildlife. Here is a Gentoo Penguin colony with gorgeous ice in the distance.

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

One of my favorite places on Earth: Gold Harbour, South Georgia. Here we were treated to a rainbow and King penguins on the beach.

Susan Seubert talking about her show, "Not A Day Goes By," at the Froelick Gallery in downtown Portland, Oregon, USA

I opened my show, “Not A Day Goes By,” at the Froelick Gallery in April. The work was also shown at this year’s Venice Biennale.

Banner of John Yeon's Shire, photograph by Susan Seubert, hanging on the exterior of the Portland Art Museum for the exhibition, "Quest for Beauty"

I have been photographing John Yeon’s, “The Shire,” in the Columbia River Gorge for the last 7 years and the book was finally published. The Portland Art Museum used one of the images to announce the show about Yeon.

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In May, my family and friends joined us in Venice for my opening at the Venice Biennale! Definitely a high point in my artistic career, the Biennale is the most prestigious venue for fine art on the planet. Picture here is me with my mom on the balcony of the Palazzo Bembo, home to the European Cultural Center that hosted the exhibition.

Hornsund, Svalbard, Norway, Europe

After returning to the U.S. from Italy, it was back across the puddle for adventures starting in Arctic Svalbard where polar bears ruled the day!

Polar Bear, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway, Europe

A once in a lifetime sighting: we watched a polar bear take a bearded seal, then proceed to have a feast. Even our Norwegian guides had never seen such a site! This is why traveling with National Geographic makes all the difference.

Hellmobotn, Tysfjorden, Norway, Europe

After spending time in Svalbard, we headed over to the famed fjords of Norway. We hiked and explored these beautiful waterways which was a joyous experience.

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Back in Oregon, science rules! We were some of the first in the United States to witness a total eclipse of the sun. I photographed it through a spotting scope.

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The diamond ring effect during the total eclipse of the sun. Taken in McMinnville, Oregon.

Maine Multimedia Workshop, Rockport, ME

The end of August took me back to school at the Maine Media Workshops where I learned about short form, multimedia storytelling from the master himself, Bob Sacha.

The Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Europe

I had a brief moment at home before heading back to Europe, where Ireland awaited! I landed in Dublin and after visiting the stunning Library at Trinity College, we headed straight to a pub for a proper pint of Guinness!

Bodnant Gardens, Llandundo, Wales, Europe

From Ireland we sailed for Wales, where we visited the lush Bodnant Gardens in the rain.

Fowey, England, Europe

After exploring Wales for a few days, we headed to England, where the charming town of Fowey welcomed our rather large ship into port.

Grouse Mountain Skyride Surf Adventure is a summer opportunity to ride on top of the Grouse Mountain Gondola viewing platform as you ascend 1610 meters to the top of Grouse Mountain.  On a clear day, you can see for miles and your view will include all of

After my adventures on board the National Geographic Orion, I flew back to North America where I had an assignment to photograph lovely Vancouver, British Columbia. We had stunning weather! This is the Grouse Mountain Skyride Surf Adventure, with views back to the city from the top of the aerial tram.

Bordeaux, France, Europe

As soon as I wrapped the shoot in B.C., it was back across the Atlantic to meet my husband in beautiful Bordeaux. Here is Le Miroir d’eau at Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux during the blue hour.

Venice, Italy, Europe

After eating and drinking our way through France, we hopped an EasyJet flight to Venice, to take in the sights, and my show, one last time. Here is the Basilica San Marco in the morning, Venice, Italy.

Washington, DC, America, USA

We flew back to the U.S., and no sooner had we touched down, then I had some meetings to attend in our nation’s capital, so I flew to DC for a quick trip.

Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, HI, USA

Then, it was back to Hawaii for us. I was fortunate enough to be invited to photograph the Keiki Hula Festival at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel. It was inspiring to see these young people carrying on the Hawaiian tradition of hula.

Lahaina, HI, USA

My husband got to catch a few waves before I had to wave goodbye and head off to…

Charles Hotel, Boston, MA

Cambridge!! I had a fantastic shoot for the Charles Hotel. We spent a week making a library of images for the hotel’s new web site. I’ll post more about this shoot once the job is live!

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Luckily for me, there was still time after Boston to head back to Hawaii, where I was able to enjoy some beach time with my husband. Cheers to an incredible 2017!

 

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Maui for Voyeur Magazine

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February in this new year!  I’m currently on Maui, marooned on shore because of a quick moving storm that’s brought strong winds and locally heavy showers to the area, putting a damper on my humpback whale photography.  However, the inclement weather gives me an opportunity to share my latest story about the island of Maui, photographed for Virgin Australia’s inflight magazine, Voyeur.  The story is online in the January 2017 issue and features an insider’s take on our favorite Hawaiian Island.  The story proves once again that there is always something new to discover from a wonderful taco truck to the classic Hana Highway.  Take a quick break from your winter and enjoy a stroll on the island of Maui.  Mahalo for visiting and a hui ho!

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Maui Editorial Photographer Shoots for National Geographic Traveller UK

Maui Editorial Photographer Shoots for National Geographic Traveller UK

X Marks the Spot,” is the title of my most recently published feature about Maui.  I worked closely with travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy to put together a story about this remote Pacific island for the UK edition of National Geographic Traveller Magazine.  Andrew used to have a place here and I still do, so we both know it well.  We were able to meet for lunch, (a luxury in the modern age of journalism), exchange ideas and hatch a plan to cover this beautiful place.

After we settled on our subjects, we parted ways and went to work.  The result?  An eloquent, accurate and pretty article about my favorite place on Earth.  You can read the article and see a few pictures online here. If you’re fortunate enough to live in the UK, you can pick the magazine up on newsstands now as it’s published in the November 2016 issue.

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The opening page spread of Ka’anapali Beach at sunset

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The art gallery in Keokea, Upcountry Maui, next door to my favorite breakfast spot, Grandma’s Coffee House

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I love the colors the designer chose for this layout! Plus Yee’s Orchard is the best place for fresh mangoes on island.

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The color palette for this layout is a result of the time of day – both of these places were photographed at sunset on west facing beaches.

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Kahakuloa is one of my favorite places to visit as its location on the north shore is beautiful and the drive is much less popular than the road to Hana. Also, you can always count on getting warm banana nut bread at Julia’s.

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots O’o Farm in Kula, Maui

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots O’o Farm in Kula, Maui

Aloha from the beautiful island of Maui!  On Monday, we had the great pleasure of visiting O’o Farms located on the slopes of Haleakala in what is referred to as upcountry Maui.  The farm is located in the little town of Kula, just off of the main road and the property overlooks the valley and ocean.  O’o Farm is the only true farm-to-table operation on the island and for a nominal fee, one can visit the farm and learn about their coffee, vegetables and even pick the greens to be served for lunch!  It’s a nice way to spend the day in the cool, misty outdoors and an unexpected pleasure to experience fine dining in a unique island setting.  Below are some images from our visit that I hope you enjoy.  Mahalo for visiting and a hui ho!

O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Children get to feed the chickens at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Children get to feed the chickens at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

A delicious cappuccino made from coffee grown at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

A delicious cappuccino made from coffee grown at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, boast gorgeous views from the gardens.

O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, boasts gorgeous views from the gardens.

Visitors pick their own salad greens for lunch at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Visitors pick their own salad greens for lunch at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

The salad at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

The salad at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Beautifully prepared tofu with root vegetables at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Beautifully prepared tofu with root vegetables at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Wood stored for the outdoor oven at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Wood stored for the outdoor oven at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Farm flowers decorate the lunch tables at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Farm flowers decorate the lunch tables at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Vanessa, one of the workers at O'o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Vanessa, one of the workers at O’o Farm in Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Video for Smithsonian

A while back, I had the pleasure of photographing Paul Theroux, the famed travel writer, at his home on the island of Oahu for a story for Smithsonian Magazine.  I also collected sound and video for a short piece for the online magazine.

I uploaded it to my Vimeo channel so that you can see this short piece about the art of hula in Hawaii.

Aloha and a hui ho!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/178621129″>The Meaning Behind Hula</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/susanseubert”>Susan Seubert</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>