with Courtney Slazinik
One Photographer’s Story of a Road Trip Without Her DSLR
One Photographer’s Story of a Road Trip Without Her DSLR

In the midst of a photographer’s busiest season, aka October, I decided to take a little road trip. My toddler, Oak, had never met my grandfather, and I got the idea to go in my head and just couldn’t shake it. In the middle of October. And I can’t even blame the drugs because I actually don’t do drugs. So, plans were made and my mom, myself, and my kid were taking a road trip from Illinois to Pennsylvania. Did I mention we were going in October?


As I was packing, panic set it. I was leaving the day after my fall mini-sessions. Roughly 2,000 RAW files were on my computer to be edited, uploaded, posted, and delivered in the next 2 weeks. I had regular sessions that needed to go to gallery. I had photos up to my eyeballs that HAD to be culled. And now this, a 5 day road trip (in the MIDDLE OF OCTOBER!) to add 500 additional photos. It was enough to make a girl drink, cry, or both.


Unlike a lot of people, I don’t have a lot of personal photos sitting on my computer collecting digital dust. I’m a printing queen, printing at least every other month. All Instagram photos automatically print into books every 60-days with Chatbooks, and all DSLR photos are edited within 24-48 hours of being taken and exported to a file called “to print.” I don’t have much organization in my life, but I sure as heck do when it comes to my prints. This is what led to my panic over the trip: I wasn’t worried about taking hundreds of pictures that I wouldn’t do anything with, I was worried about taking hundreds of pictures that I WOULD do something with. It was just too much.


So, I did something bold. I decided not to use my DSLR on the whole trip. Notice I didn’t say I wasn’t going to pack it. I initially started with that plan but then got worried a photographic emergency would pop up and I my life would be ruined if I didn’t have it. You might be wondering what this emergency might be…I can’t tell you, because I have no clue. Ultimately, however, it didn’t get used.


So here’s my arsenal of gear I took. A Holga I bought a few months ago that I never had time to play with. My iPhone, self-portrait monopod (read: selfie stick. Don’t judge.) and olloclip. And, probably the most shocking item in this collection, a disposable camera, which I have as part of a fun project with other local photographers.


I freely shot the whole trip, and it was amazing. No clunky camera and lens. No saying let me check my light. FREEDOM!! I snapped fun pictures of family I rarely see, markets in full fall swing, and random spots significant to my parents’ histories, all in a low-maintenance fashion. I uploaded my iPhone photos every night to Artifact Uprising and have a book ordered of our trip now. My scans from the Holga (which is a very weird camera to use, by the way) and the disposable camera came back last week and I absolutely adore them. No editing, no stressing, just printing. This is the good life, y’all.


And all those photos I had sitting on my computer before I left? They got delivered right on schedule. So the moral of this story? The best camera is definitely the one you have, and the best photos are the ones that are printed. Find time to document what you love friends, even when you’re busy.

Oh, and photographic emergencies might not really exist. :)

Happy shooting friends! xo


  • Rachel
    November 5, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    Great article! Always fun to challenge yourself with taking pics in different ways. Question…when you print your photos, are you creating photo books? Or are you actually printing the pics themselves? I am trying to find the best way to make use of the thousands of pics I take, but don’t know where I would put all those pics!!


    • Ashley
      November 5, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Thank you so much for the compliments! I am a HUGE fan of photo books. Take our summer, for example. We went on 3 big trips and I took a gazillion photos. Instead of printing them all (and no wall space in my small house to put them!) I made one album “Summer 2015” and put them all together. About 20 of them I printed as 4×6 prints and have hanging on a string with clothespins in our dining room, and 3 of them were printed larger on foamcore to hang on our gallery wall in our living room. Hope that helps :)

  • Cara
    November 5, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    I don’t take my dslr on vacation ever. Carrying it around and worrying about it are just a hassle. The vacation isn’t about gorgeous photos it is about having fun and making memories and honestly a snapshot with a point and shoot or a phone serves well for memory shots. I pack a point and shoot and my phone and a waterproof point and shoot if applicable.

  • Alex
    November 5, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    Ashley, great little story and thanks for mentioning Artifact Uprising – I didn’t know them and they’ve got some cool stuff!

    • Ashley
      November 5, 2015 at 8:05 PM

      Alex! They have AMAZING products and I just adore the paper they use! Hope you print something great :)

  • Samantha
    November 5, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your story… and your vacation – it’s so funny how we stress ourselves out over what equipment we should bring {I’m totally guilty of this}. Most of the time it keeps us from actually enjoying our vacation. On my last vacation, I brought my old reliable Rebel {just in case} and ended up shooting 90% of the trip on my iPhone and they printed out beautifully. <3

    • Ashley
      November 5, 2015 at 8:06 PM

      Where would we be without our iPhones?! :)

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