Friday, February 6, 2009

Hidden Hazards of Travel Photography

Off the Road Again

The spectacular Errigal Mountain, is situated in the Gweedore region of County Donegal, Ireland, and is the tallest peak in the Derryveagh mountain range.

I took this shot while photographing in the area, for a travel book, in September of 2008. The road looks serene and peaceful - with just the one solitary car on it. But don't let that fool you - I have found driving on some Irish roads less than "postcard perfect".

The day before, I had my first (albeit minor) traffic accident, while trying to navigate out of the narrow entrance to a B&B in Donegal Town. I scraped the front bumper to the tune of €1600. I paid the insurance excess of €250.

A week later, I was driving my (quite new) Toyota RAV 4 down a "back-road" in County Kilkenny, when a van, travelling in the opposite direction took my wing mirror clean off. The cost of that repair was €360, so I decided not to bother the insurance company and paid the lot myself.

Last weekend, I covered most of County Waterford (about 500 kilometers round trip) on the last stage of that particular photo shoot, and was dropping a companion off at her house, half an hour away from my home, when I reversed the trusty RAV into her garden wall. The car (I now prefer to think of it as The Devil's Own Vehicle) is in for repair as I write - the total cost, this time, a paltry €700. I'm paying the excess of €250 again.

The last time I had a car accident, before the last 3, was in 1990 - and I was hit from behind, while turning right, by an uninsured and unlicensed driver. Prior to that, my accident sheet was spotless. But since August 2008, I have had 3 accidents, 2 of which were my own fault - and, strangely, I was on the same photography job at the time. And yes, I did travel extensively in the car outside of that commission.

I told the guys in the garage that a) the RAV was jinxed and b) if I come back to see them again, I will demand a ticket to the staff Christmas party.

I have just put my final invoice in for the travel book shoot - and while it is a considerable sum of money, it's worth bearing in mind that I have spent €860 on vehicle damage repairs alone - which I can't claim back on the limited "expense account" (it barely covered my hotels, food and fuel costs).

So, when you're considering your next travel photography trip - consider the hidden expenses - and hire a car!


  1. Ha! I'm surprised your friend was willing to ride along with you in your jinxed car. Glad you are safe. It would be sad without your blogs. Remember, there are hidden costs in everything~

  2. You will be able to retire at a MUCH younger age if you hire someone to drive you...

  3. Oh no ... just think ... imagine if the repairer had a loyalty card - 'get your 4th repair FREE!!' LOL. Glad that they were only minor bingles and you are safe.

  4. Hey Stephen,
    Hope you don't mind me saying so, but I think its back to the drawing board for you mate - like some driving lessons perhaps. You know first one hard luck, second one mmmhhh but third one ( and do not blame your tools). Have you had any accidents with the camera? Doubt it!!!!!!

    Safe motoring


  5. Ger

    Actually, I DO mind you saying so. I hope you realise that your comments are speculation and assumption - and assume makes ASS of U and ME. I got my driving licence in 1976 and my driving skills are second to none. I've had plenty of accidents with my camera, too. Like the time I dropped it on the head of a smart-arse who thought he could say what he liked about me in public.

  6. Stephen,

    I detect that my suggestion that you might need some driving lessons has hit some sort of nerve with you. Although you state that you have been driving for many years perhaps you have become a little too complacent.

    Anyway enough about that. Perhaps though, you might consider some Anger Management Classes should your last response be anything to go by - but again thats entirely up to you.



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