Going for a photography trip is always a fun activty. But packing for a photography trip can be a tough affair. In order to look the part of a ‘serious’ photographeer I remembered that in the early days, I would just about empty my entire camera cabinet and try to stuff everything (2 dslrs and 7 lenses) into a large shoulder carry bag with a tripod and head strapped below plus 2 dozen batteries, 2 flash units, 8 512mb CF cards, data transfer bank and 8 screw on filters plus grad-ND filters of different grades and shades.
My clothes went into a separate full sized luggage with change of clothes and underwear for each day including charging units and extension cords.
I felt good for the first day , ready to make a good impression on all the serious photographers on the trip
By the 3rd day I was breaking my back and shoulders silently cursing the 30kg of equipment and clothes I had brought along. Added to this, the organizers had picked hotels/motels with 5 floors of rooms and without a lift…. I seemed to be always allocated the upper floors as a cruel joke. The thought of checking out barely 9 hours later and getting everything onto the bus for the next day’s destination gave me nightmares
In front of everyone I continued with with a forced smile and fake “This is nothing” laugh
Nowadays due to older age and wanting to actually ENJOY a photography trip I have learnt to cut down on what I bring along
Great images do not need to come from large cameras so I have moved on to smaller interchangeable lens camera systems with 2 compact zom lenses that cover 24mm through 200mm range. I learnt to appreiate and use white balance alot more to cut down the number of filters to 1 …. a circular polarizer ….. I also learnt to shoot without using UV filters to save even more weight. Most importantly I learnt to work with other travel mates on sharing of equipment like speciality filters …
And I thank GOD for large capacity SD cards that nowadays go up to 32g in size in a single card. In the early days I had to bring along so many 512 and 1g cards
Whats good to pack into a camera bag apart from camera gear? Stuff that will save you
1. a hotel shower cap
2. rubber bands (1+2 can be used to keep your camera dry on a raining day
3. powerbank is so important nowadays because we’re instagramming and fb’ing so much while we shoot that phone batteries die faster
4. candies and cookies…… I used to use these as bait to give to little kids in villages while shooting….. now I just keep them for my own eating pleasure and only share them out when I REALLY have to. All these daily move-outs at 5am means that I usually arrive at a shoot location at 6am hungry not having had breakfast or even a hot coffee. When I am hungry, I’m in no mood to shoot…..my mind just keeps thinking “WHEN is breakfast or when is that noodle stall going to opn ??”
5. keep a small lucky charm or mojo in your camera bag…..and rub it often when the going gets tough. It gives me (false sense ) confidence and that last hope of success shooting with 100 other photographers who have NO lucky mojo with them
6. tissue paper …. keep at least a couple of packs of these …… tissue paper has saved my life so many times when I have used mountain-side toilets with only water and no toilet paper.
7. a small mp3 player with your favorite list of songs ….. watching a sunrise or sunset unfold on an incredible landscape can only be sweeter with music…. and good way to catch sleep on the bus between shooting points … no point wasting phone battery to listen to music too
8. a small wifi hotspot device…. you will be EVERYONE’s best friend on the bus when YOU share your data connectivity
9. a small notebook and a working pen….. to collect emails and facebook names from the local kids and subjects that you’re shooting
10. a small battery powered printer that are so TINY nowadays that you can INSTANTLY print little polaroid sized photos for anyone you meet during the trip
11. breath freshner spray …. I have forgotten to brush my teeth so many times in the mornings when rushing out that I wonder why everyone is facing away when I speak to them
I keep all clothes into a small schoolboy sized backpack …. which means 3 t-shirts (1 for sleeping and 2 for changes) 1 extra pair of shorts/bermudas, 5 disposable underwear (just pad the front with plenty of toilet paper when using to keep it leak-proof) and a good safari hat. An extra pair of socks, a tube of anti-septic cream, some deodorant, a comb, toothbrush/toothpste and a pair of slippers conclude my packing list for 7 days of travel and shooting.
Hell I’m on a photography trip, I dont need to shave or smell nice for anyone except the occassional VIPs…. which is where the comb and deodorant comes in
Take this article with a funny pinch of salt at attempted humor. But seriously, do think about packing light to make your photography trip enjoyable. So what if you forgot your 3 stop Grad Nd filter ? Use your creativity instead of your tools