Outdoor Photographer Cliford Mervil Breaks Down What You Need to Capture Your Adventures

From phone accessories to professional camera gear, here’s what you should bring with you to snap perfect pics in any setting.

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You don’t have to be Annie Leibovitz to recognize an Instagrammable moment when you see one. But actually capturing it—and well—is another story altogether. Whether you’re an aspiring content creator or simply a collector of memories, capturing impressive photos and videos while you’re traveling or gallivanting through your day-to-day adventures is an art that requires practice, an eye for detail, and some help from the proper gear. To help you with at least that last bit, we spoke with outdoor and adventure photographer Cliford Mervil about the challenges of creating content out in the wild and the camera gear he recommends to make it easier–from phone add-ons to professional camera accessories. 

Mervil began photographing the outdoors as a hobby while out on excursions with his dog. At first, he wasn’t sure what type of gear to invest in to take better nature photos, so he referred to books from some of his favorite outdoor photographers like Jimmy Chin and Ren Hang as well as tutorials on YouTube. And while mastering the art of photography isn't something you can do overnight, practice really does make a huge difference. In fact, Mervil now regularly shoots for National Geographic and Patagonia. “It's always about composition, and actually learning how to photograph and how to do it properly,” he says. “I spent a lot of time knowing my camera settings in and out."

And as fun as it can be to test your skills out in the wild, Mervil warns that you should approach it all with nature conservation in mind, particularly in the age of “influencers.” “It's sad that a lot of people just go to these places just to create, and then they'll leave trash, destroy the area, move things around, or break trees just to get the perfect shot,” he says. He encourages leaving the place you’re visiting like you found it. With that in mind, get ready to capture nature’s beauty with some of Mervil’s go-to gear picks below.


Shooting With a Phone? No Problem

“If you have an iPhone right now, I would say you pretty much have a camera in your pocket,” says Mervil, and he’s right. Thanks to technology, you can snap a professional-grade photo on whim without even really trying. Before buying any phone camera accessories, Mervil advises getting super familiar with all of your camera settings like how to adjust the brightness and focus, that way you’ll understand its full capabilities and play with them to achieve the perfect shot. In terms of accessories, he recommends anamorphic lenses since “they’re pretty great for creating low-light videos and everything else with your phone.”


Beginner Camera Gear to Start Your Photography Journey

“It doesn't matter what camera you get, because when I first started, I started with a $300 camera,” says Mervil. Eventually, though, he upgraded his lens to fit his photography style and improve overall image quality. He recommends a 24-70mm lens since its versatility allows you to photograph everything from landscapes to portraits, and nearly everything in-between.

“I barely carry tripods with me, but when I do, it's really something I just purchased off Amazon,” he confesses.


Camera Gear for Avid Photographers

If you’re ready to upgrade your camera itself, Mervil recommends his favorite brand Sony “simply because I do love the low-light situation, as well as the eye focus.” As far as lenses, he says that a 24-70mm is essential. He also uses a DJI Mavic drone, which he connects to his phone, and recommends GoPro cameras to shoot fast-moving action like mountain biking or climbing.

When it comes to bags to protect your pricey investments, Mervil swears by WANDRD. “I love it simply because at the bottom, I can put all my camera gear, all my drones or anything that I need. And then at the top, if I put clothes or climbing gear. It's pretty much my all-around bag that I'm using right now [it fits] my climbing, camera, camping, [or even] snowboarding [gear].”

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