Best Way To Carry DSLR While Traveling | Mary's Mark Photography

Carrying a DSLR While Traveling Can Be Incredibly Rewarding | Whale Fluke by Mary Parkhill

Carrying a DSLR While Traveling Can Be Incredibly Rewarding | Whale Fluke by Mary Parkhill

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to quite a few locations in search for awe-inspiring photographs. I’ve managed to explore Singapore, Hong Kong, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Alaska and a few other places. As a landscape photographer, its tough to find the right balance of camera equipment to take while still remaining flexible and mobile. It’s a mental dance that I do each time I pack for a trip.

If you’re anything like me, you also want to have access to your camera along the journey to your destination. This often includes several airports, international baggage restrictions, hikes, taxi rides and rain (or snow). Having immediate access to my camera is preferred. At all times.

How to Carry Your DSLR While Traveling

Given this criteria (mobility and camera access), I have found 3 camera products that I consistently travel with when carrying my DSLR. Most other pieces of equipment can be changed depending on the photograph that I’m capturing or the type of hike I’m going on but these 3 items are key to every trip.

Find a Good Carry-on DSLR Travel Bag

Find a good, sturdy yet lightweight camera bag that can be used as a carry-on will save you a lot of time and effort. You’ll avoid transitioning bags for each trip (which means you’ll be less likely to forget an item) and you’ll get used to where your lenses and camera body are (which means that when you’re on a safari in Africa, you will be super familiar where your zoom lens is). Get comfortable with your bag and make sure it’s lightweight enough that you can hike with it - aka, try not to overstuff it.

Here’s the DSLR Travel Bag that I use:

Find a Lightweight Tripod For Your DSLR

If you’re into landscape photography, make sure to find a lightweight tripod. While shopping for one, you might lift quite a few of them up and think, “that’s not heavy at all”. Think again. Really try to envision yourself carrying your tripod on a 5 mile hike that’s uphill for most of the way. Plus your actual camera gear. If you get tired just thinking about carrying it in that scenario, opt for a lighter one. When you’re leaving for a tough hike to get to your desired location, it can be tempting to remove as much weight as possible. You do NOT want to leave your tripod behind so try to hedge this desire by finding a lightweight one.

Here’s the one that I travel with:

Rain Gear for DSLR While Traveling

A lot of my travels take me throughout Southeast Alaska - and it rains a lot. I mean a lot. Almost everyday (in my personal experience). So it was important for me to find a decent camera cover that was mobile, easy to use and protected my gear from the rain. I’ve read online blog articles that say you can use a plastic grocery bag (poke a hole in the one side) but I prefer to use a camera cover because there always seems to be multiple holes in my grocery bags. This rain protector has saved me quite a few times especially during the rainy seasons in Alaska and even Hong Kong.

Here’s the Rain Gear I use for my DSLR:

DSLR Travel Gear Recommendations

Do you have a favorite or preferred product that you make sure you have with you when you travel with your DSLR? If so, please let me know in the comment section below! I’m always looking for products that make my life easier - on the last mile of my hike or when I’m just boarding a plane.


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Mary Parkhill with Crabpot in Juneau Alaska

Mary Parkhill with Crabpot in Juneau Alaska

Best Photography Locations in Alaska

Best Photography Location in Petersburg Alaska

One of my favorite places to photograph is located in Petersburg Alaska. It’s a tricky spot to get to because the best angles are from the Wrangell Narrows (waterway) during low-tide. For this spot, timing is everything.

Here’s an image that I’ve taken from this spot:

Petersburg, Alaska

Petersburg, Alaska

Great Photography Location in Alaska

One of the reasons why this location is one of the best in Petersburg, Alaska is because the landscape is always changing. In addition to juggling the weather and the tides, the mouth of the Wrangell Narrows opens up to the Frederick Sound. The Sound contains deeper waters and pods of Orcas and even Humpbacks swim through this area everyday. You never know when you’ll see a whale fluke or even a sea lion.

Directions to Petersburg Alaska Photography Location

Starting at Papa Bear’s (it’s right on the main street of the town), head North towards Eagles Roost Park by foot. It will take you about 5 minutes to walk and please note that there is a slight uphill.

  • Once you’re at Eagles Roost Park, face the direction of the water and turn to the right. You will see the beginning of a path.

  • Follow the path for about :15 seconds and you’ll see stairs. Take the stairs (approximately 3-4 flights).

  • This is where your timing will be key. During low-tide, there will be rocks exposed. Scramble over the rocks and look down the Wrangell Narrows towards Devil’s Thumb. On a clear day, you’ll see the wonderful mountain peak.

  • Please note that the tide swings can be more than 14 feet (depending on the time of year, it can swing to 20+ feet).

  • Tip: Wear waterproof boots so you can wade into the water a bit

Directions to photography location in Petersburg, Alaska

Directions to photography location in Petersburg, Alaska

Best Places for Landscape Photography

What are the best places for landscape photography?

You’re ready to go. You know which camera you would like to try, you have your lenses packed and you’ve researched what should be in your camera bag. But now what?! You know that you want to create a landscape photograph but your backyard seems dull and boring and you want to go somewhere exciting but you’re not sure where.

Often times, we’re limited by the amount of travel time we have or by the funds we have to get some place. In this blog post, I’ll focus on a few places within the continental USA.

sunrise over portland maine lighthouse

Where to take landscape photographs

To be honest, you can take landscape photographs from almost anywhere. Given enough creativity, you can make even the most mundane and dull places seem Instagram worthy. However, if you get the itch to travel within the USA, below are the top 5 locations I would recommend.

Best states to shoot photographs

  1. Alaska: An exquisite location filled with varying terrain, wildlife, and beautiful natural elements such as glaciers and wildflowers. Depending on how much time you have, consider jumping on an Alaskan cruise for a week or so. Most cruises traverse through Southeast Alaska allowing you to disembark at various cities. It’s a great way to see a lot of places in Alaska, get a few great landscape shots from the water and not worry about the travel logistics. There are also smaller boat cruises to consider if you prefer a more intimate setting.

  2. Washington: If you are looking for a great outdoorsy landscape photograph with a lot of lush greenery, Washington state should be high on your list. No matter where you turn, you will be able to find coastline, mountains and/or a state park just waiting to be photographed. Make sure to do your research ahead of time as seasonal weather patterns can alter your travel plans.

  3. Maine: If you’re anything like me and prefer to be by the ocean when you’re photographing landscapes, Maine is a great state to head to! Filled with wildlife and various coastal scenes, you’ll also find quite a few lighthouses. Make sure to take your tripod so you can capture the rolling waves and if you have a minute, stop by one of the boutique lobster shops that you’ll inevitably find along your way and try a ‘lobstah roll’.

  4. Florida: If the heat doesn’t bother you, head to Florida during the summer months to catch one of the incredible sunsets (and/or sunrises) in your landscape photographs. If you’re not sure where to start out, consider heading to the Everglades or Key West. Both locations are further south and provide beautiful flora.

  5. Hawaii: Hawaii is on my bucket list in terms of where to photograph next. The rugged, lush mountains, incredible ocean views and beautiful sunsets are among the richest in the world. If you happen to get there before me, please let me know where you recommend to photograph landscapes!

Great Places to Take Landscape Photos

As you know, there are millions of places to take incredible landscape photographs and to practice photography. Have you been somewhere special that you’d like to share with everyone? If so, please comment below and let others know of fantastic places to try photographing.

Interior Design and Wall Decor Tips from Sigrid & Co. - Part 2

What considerations should I have in mind when selecting new room décor pieces?

Fair Trade Interior Decor

Fair Trade Interior Decor

Sigrid: Quite often, I see home decor stores focus on cost and large production. Big box stores and midsize retailers offer their customers a large volume of artwork and home décor at reasonable rates. I decided to take a different approach. At Sigrid & Co., we source home décor products with the underlying principle that home décor is a gateway for global connectivity and fair trade.

This means that we source our products from talented artisans from around the world and believe that by providing our partners a channel to reach buyers, we help enable a globally connected economy.

You may be wondering why we decided to focus on Fair Trade (we get this question a lot!). By implementing conscious fair-trade practices, we are holding ourselves accountable to helping the world fight against poverty, gender inequality, child labor and migration. As a company, we believe that we can do well AND do good – all at the same time. 

Selecting Interior Decor Through the Lens of Fair Trade

 We provide our customers the opportunity to purchase home décor that makes a difference in people’s lives. We encourage our customers to research their products and select pieces that are unique and also do some good in our world. Often times, because we source our products from global artisans, we have more unique products than big box retailers. 

 It also means that we help enable artisans in third world countries to make money to help pay for their own necessities such as food, housing, and education. Artwork and home décor is a language that everyone can speak. It transcends language barriers, cultural divide and borders. By supporting our artisans, you’re supporting a world of positive change with true impact, changing lives one product at a time. 


sigrid and co
nyc interior design
NYC Interior Design - Sigrid & Co

NYC Interior Design - Sigrid & Co

Look out for our third and final blog post from Sigrid & Co. coming soon!

More than just an Interior Design Photography Blog Post - Humble Design

Have you heard of Humble Design?

As I sit in a coffee shop with the sunlight pouring in, it reminds me of a nonprofit that I have had the opportunity to donate my artwork to. Just like the sunlight is filling this room, this nonprofit works to fill their recipients lives with donated household goods, dignity and hope.

Humble Design Logo.png

Humble Design is a non profit organization serving “individuals, families, and veterans emerging from homelessness by transforming their empty house into a warm, welcoming and uplifting home with donated furniture and household goods.”

Across the country, Humble Design warehouses are stocked with donated goods that allow design teams to personalize homes by providing a dignified, life changing experience for clients. We believe in restoring dignity to every family that has suffered homelessness.

Meet Laura

Laura Corp Humble Design Article by Mary Parkhill.jpg

I had the opportunity to catch up with Laura Corp - the Operations Coordinator at Humble Design. Before she started working at the nonprofit, Laura had participated in a ‘Day of Service’ which is when an organization sponsors a family, helps put the household goods into the homes, and gets to participate in the reveal. After her experience, she was hooked. She knew she had to be more involved with Humble Design and so she applied for a job. Laura generously took the time to talk me through how Humble Design works. 



Making a Difference with Humble Design

Humble Design has a few big warehouses where they keep donated household goods. Partnering with other nonprofits, Humble Design works with families who are transitioning into their new home. Once they receive a referral from a partnering case worker, a  team of designers will go meet with the family in their home before going back to the warehouse to begin selecting the home goods to be leveraged at lightening speed (about 1.5 days!).  The designers also spend time creating custom artwork for the families after getting to know their interests and what they dream of having their home look and feel like. On the third day, volunteers help put the home goods into the identified home. With 4 locations nationally, Detroit (headquarters), Chicago, San Diego and Seattle, Humble Design completes about 7 homes each week. 

One of the motivations for starting this nonprofit was the idea that often times, when people get back onto their feet and in a home, they don’t have the means for furnishing it. Sometimes people are sleeping on blankets or sleeping bags - there’s no furniture, chairs or tables. A common issue that people run into when furnishing their home is transporting the goods to their home. At Humble Design, they are able to transfer the home goods to the home. 

Check out their videos here:

Before and After Photos of Interior Design

We all love ‘before and after’ photos as it helps us understand the transformation of the space. Here are a few images of the work that Humble Design has done in Detroit, Chicago, San Diego and Seattle. What do you think? I personally love the dining room transformation! 





Before - Bedroom

Before - Bedroom

After - Bedroom

After - Bedroom

Before - Play Area

Before - Play Area

After - Play Area

After - Play Area

Before - Kitchen

Before - Kitchen

After - Kitchen

After - Kitchen

Before - Bedroom

Before - Bedroom

After - Bedroom

After - Bedroom

Which of the before / after photos impress you the most? I love the living room transformation space! We especially love how the designers used a neutral palette and leveraged the existing fireplace.

Lending a helping hand

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to donate artwork to Humble Design. Not only is the nonprofit mission something I can get behind and believe in but the people there are so kind truly helpful. If you’re an artist looking to get involved or help out with this cause, please check out their volunteer opportunities here:

Best DSLR for Outdoor Photography

What is the best DSLR for Outdoor Photography?

What DSLR Camera should I buy for Outdoor Photography?

One of the most popular questions I receive as a DM (or a direct message) via instagram is ‘which DSLR should I get if I’m going to be shooting outdoors’. I wanted to take a moment and provide a few considerations for you if you’re having this same thought.

Usually when I’m taking landscape photographs, I need to first travel to where I’m shooting. Then, I have to make sure my equipment can hold up against the elements and weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, rain and extreme heat. After that, I want to make sure my editing software and computer system are correctly set up. As you can see, there are quite a few items to take into consideration when it comes to purchasing a DSLR for Outdoor Photography. Today, I’ll share with you a few of the top considerations.

Here I am with my DSLR Outdoor Camera shooting the sunset over the San Juan Islands

Here I am with my DSLR Outdoor Camera shooting the sunset over the San Juan Islands

Outdoor Photography DSLR Considerations

Camera Body for Outdoor Photography

As mentioned above, often times you have to travel to capture outdoor, landscape, nature and wildlife photography. One of my biggest criteria for purchasing a DSLR for outdoor photography is how it will hold up against ‘bumps and bruises’. Whether the bumps and bruises come from traveling (squishing a back pack under an airplane seat) or from a brush with the ground as I hike up a mountain. Yes - in a perfect world we would bubble wrap our cameras, lenses and tripod but practically speaking, if you want fantastic outdoor photographs, you will need to get out of the house.

Nikon D810 FX DSLR Camera Body

I have lived in Florida and have taken outdoor photography portraits and landscapes there. Often times, I find myself in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) and Alaska where its usually chilly and it rains often. I needed a camera that could handle both of of those elements along. I was looking for a full-frame with a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed. I didn’t go into photography seeking out extreme conditions or really wanting to push the boundaries with my camera; however, I knew there was a chance that as I grew as a photographer, I would really want to test my cameras limitations. For Outdoor Photography, I would highly recommend the Nikon D810 FX DSLR Camera Body.

Why Do I Recommend the Nikon D810 Camera Body for Outdoor Photography

From shooting outdoor portraits on the beach to orcas and bald eagles in Alaska, my Nikon D810 Camera Body has been with me every step of the way. It has a wide range of ISO sizes, allows me to shoot in raw, 36.3 MP and a 51-point AF system. If you’re looking for the detailed specs, please see below. This is a versatile camera body allowing me to photograph outdoor night photography, a fast-moving breeching Orca and family portraits.

Outdoor Photography DSLR Specs:

  • 36.3 MP FX-format CMOS sensor without an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF)

  • 30% faster EXPEED 4 image processing engine

  • 51-point AF system and 3D Color Matrix metering III with a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor

  • ISO 64-12,800 expandable to 51,200

  • Featuring a new RAW Small Size option, which produces 16MP images with much smaller file sizes

  • Professional video and audio capabilities

Questions About Your DSLR for Outdoor Photography

If you have any questions about a camera and it’s performance for outdoor photographs or have specific questions about the Nikon D810, please reach out to me on my Contact page! I would love to provide guidance and any useful tips or considerations.

Landscape Photography in Washington

Photographing Throughout the State of Washington

Landscape Photography of Mount Rainier and Tulips


For those of you who do not follow me on Instagram, I wanted to share a few brief video clips from a recent trip to Washington. A lot of my photography work was done in the early mornings and the evenings - around sunrise and sunset. There were a few mornings and evening when I thought I would capture the perfect photograph but the clouds moved in or the rain started pouring. I wanted to share these videos with you so you could hear the quietness of nature around me and envision what I was seeing while I was crafting my artwork.

On a side note - from a travel standpoint, one week is not nearly long enough in this beautiful state! There’s so much to see, so many trails to hike and such beautiful land to soak up. I had the chance to witness beautiful tulips blooming, hike to Rattlesnake Ledge, and see Mount Rainier poking out of the clouds.


Landscape Photography of Mount Rainier and Tulips in Washington

Bird on Tulips in Washington by Mary Parkhill of Mary's Mark Photography.png

Landscape Photography Equipment

For this landscape photography adventure, I decided to take 2 camera lenses, 1 camera body, 1 tripod and 1 camera bag. When I first started packing for this trip, I wasn’t sure if I would be taking wildlife photographs or more landscape photographs. I decided on taking just 2 lenses but these two cover a fairly wide spectrum of distances. Here they are below:


Landscape Photography Video of Gig Harbor

Quick video showing behind-the-scenes when I'm photographing the San Juan Islands from the mainland. Beautiful sunset! Check out the final piece of artwork at:

Landscape Photography Video of Skagit Valley Tulip Festival at Sunrise

Quick video showing behind-the-scenes when I'm photographing tulips at the Skagit tulip festival from as the sun comes up. Check out the final piece of artwork at:

Landscape Photography Video of Rattlesnake Ledge

Quick video showing behind-the-scenes when I'm photographing from the top of Rattlesnake Ledge in Washington. Check out a few pieces of my artwork at:

Landscape Photography Video of Sunset at San Juan Islands

Quick video showing behind-the-scenes when I'm photographing the San Juan Islands from the mainland. Beautiful sunset! Check out the final piece of artwork at:


Landsape Photographer Mary Parkhill

Mary Parkhill, Photographer

Mary Parkhill, Photographer


Part 1 - Interior Design & Wall Decor Tips from Sigrid & Co.


      We believe that artwork should inspire.

Especially the artwork in your home since it’s where you spend a lot of your time. It’s where you and your loved ones create lifelong memories – where milk is spilled, tears are wiped, and family dinner traditions are created.

We know that our artwork is just one piece of what you put in your home, so we partnered with the talented founder of Sigrid & Co., to bring new ideas and inspiration to your interior design.

This is a 3 part series of blog posts and we will be posting helpful hints over the next few weeks as Spring gets into full bloom. Make sure to tag us in your home décor photos on Instagram for a chance to be featured!





Sigrid Co and Mary Parkhill.jpg
Sigrid Co and Marys Mark Photography.jpg

Part 1 - How do I start pulling decor together for a room?

Sigrid exploring NYC for design inspiration

Sigrid exploring NYC for design inspiration

Sigrid: When I begin a home decor project, there are two things that I anchor the room around: color and tone.

Color: The color palette of a room is fundamental to creating harmony and a cohesive space. It should be inviting and easily translated by the viewer as warm and welcoming. As you select décor, ensure that your personality shines through as you curate pieces.  

Here are two color palette examples for you to consider:

1.    If you would want an airy and calm room, consider combining light neutrals or leveraging the same color in different shades.

2.    If you would like to create a warm space, consider combining coral and pink blush tones.

Tone: Once you have defined your color, decide on the tone you would like to convey. Consider combining cooler tones such as blues for your bathroom to remind you of a fantastic trip you made to Maine last summer or perhaps you would prefer warmer tones in a dining room to represent your time in lovely Northern Italy.

Once you identify which color palette you would like as well as the tone, selecting the rest of your decor will fall into place.

Sigrid Co and Marys Mark Photography Collaboration.jpg

Pro Tip: If you are decorating your entire home, consider focusing on rooms one at a time so that you can play with colors and decor styles on a room-to-room basis. This process can be overwhelming so by breaking an entire home into rooms, it can make the project feel more manageable.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post from Sigrid & Co about fair trade home decor. Sign up for our eNewsletter here so you don’t miss our next post!


Sigrid Co and Mary's Mark Photography.jpg
Sigrid Co and Mary's Mark Photography Blog.jpg

Interested in the home decor items you see in this post?

Check out Sigrid & Co’s online store here!

Photography Inspiration - Providing clients with more than just photographs

Ocean of Hope taken in St. Pete Beach Florida by Mary Parkhill

As a photographer, I meet quite a few incredible people. Whether I’m photographing a family session or providing artwork for someone’s home, for a moment in time I get to see into the golden hearts of my clients.

This is such an important part of the job because it reminds me that I’m providing more to my clients than just a transaction - more than just a photoshoot or more than just a photograph for their wall. It’s a reminder that I’m sharing in something greater with them: capturing family memories or shaping how someone’s living room looks for their children to make fond memories in.

A treasure chest of stories

Over the last couple of years, I have collected a treasure chest of stories and today, I’d love to share one of them with you. It’s from a photoshoot that I provided to a client while I was working in Florida.

I met my clients on the beach to take photographs of a family. The weather was fantastic, the clients were excited and throughout the shoot, we shared quite a few laughs. It was a picture perfect family photoshoot - I couldn’t have asked for better clients or better photography conditions.

After wrapping up our session and editing their photos, I reached out to the client to share their images. The client’s response took my breath away.

In addition to thanking me for my time and the photos, my client told me that she had terminal cancer. Her family had insisted on getting family photos with her but she was initially hesitant to do so because she had scars from radiation and surgeries. She thanked me for making her feel comfortable throughout her photoshoot.

It was such an incredible reminder that life is short and that we should embrace every moment of our lives, living purposefully and with positive intentions. These photographs would serve as a reminder to her family of the incredible times that they shared together while on vacation.

To my client: Thank you so much for being brave and for letting me see into your golden heart. You continue to provide me inspiration even years after we met.


Have you had a breathtaking story happen to you lately? I would love to hear about it if so. Comment below or reach out to me here.


Landscape Photography Locations in Florida

Florida Landscape Photography Locations

6 Places to Take Landscape Photographs in Florida

Over the last couple of years, I called sunny Florida ‘home’. As I became more familiar with the ocean and the Florida way of life (#saltlife), I started exploring as much of the state as I could through my camera lens. With the ever-changing weather, constant sunshine and beautiful landscape, Florida is a treasure chest of eye candy!

As a photographer’s paradise, there is almost always a beautiful sunrise or sunset and the weather is always pushing the norms providing texture in the skies. Getting started, I leveraged Google Earth quite a bit to plan my shooting locations. Below are a few of the wonderful locations that I had the chance to explore and photograph while I was in Florida.

If you’re ever in the area, check out the states tourist website for tips/ideas of what to do / where to go. It’s a great resource to begin planning your trip. If you’re looking for more specific locations, feel free to reach out to me here.

Landscape Photography Location - Everglades:

Crocodile - Everglades, Florida

Crocodile - Everglades, Florida

Landscape Photography Location in Florida: Pass-a-Grille:

Walkway to beach - Pass-a-Grille, FL

Walkway to beach - Pass-a-Grille, FL

Landscape Photography Location in Florida: St. Petersburg:

Sail Away  - St. Petersburg, FL

Sail Away - St. Petersburg, FL

Landscape Photography Location in Florida: Tampa:

Tampa  at Night

Tampa at Night

Landscape Photography Location in Florida: Fort Lauderdale:

Lifeguard  - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Lifeguard - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Landscape Photography Location in Florida: Key West:

Key West  - Key West, Florida

Key West - Key West, Florida