Photo Contest Insider Blog


How to travel light with photoshoot essentials

January 2, 2017

Shooting on location means having to bring all of your gear with you ready to work. If you are shooting outdoors in particular, it can be tricky to get everything you need on set on your own. Big-name fashion and commercial photographers have an army of assistants to help them out, but if it’s just you, you need to work out how to travel light. Here’s how to bring everything you need, even when you have to carry it all on your own back.

Eliminate the unnecessary

Rookie photographers often make the mistake of picking up every bit of kit they can get their hands on. They end up with a collection of different lenses, accessories, triggers, metres, and so on. In order to work to a more professional standard, sometimes you need to actually reduce the amount of equipment that you need. Think carefully about what you actually need to create the style of photographs that you aim for. You will most likely start to see trends emerging in your own work: what were you using when you created your favourite images?

Don’t hang on to equipment just because you have been told that a photographer should have it. If you are shooting portraits, fashion, or any similar genre, you likely only need one or two different lenses. Leave the rest at home and only use them when it is appropriate. The same goes for your endless supply of accessories. Do you really need a light metre when you have a DSLR to calculate things for you? Is a remote shutter release actually going to come in handy, or are you going to be shooting with the camera in your hands for the whole session? If it’s a cloudy day, are you going to need all your different lens hoods? Going forward, make yourself a general rule. If you didn’t need to use a piece of equipment at your last 3 photoshoots, take it out of your kit. Try to think about when and where you will use each item, and don’t bring them out with you if they don’t fit into the scenario you are shooting.

Make yourself mobile

The next step is to go one further and try to make yourself as mobile as possible. If you are working alone and shooting on location, you will need to keep your kit close by. You may even need to actually carry the bag around with you even while you shoot. Bear this in mind and try to cut out anything that will slow you down.

A tripod may be great for steadying the camera, but it also makes you slow down. Most public places can be problematic for tripod use anyway, as it’s frowned upon for you to block public passage. In some countries it may even be illegal. Leave the tripod at home. Unless you are shooting for longer than a day straight you most likely don’t need an extra battery pack either, and this just makes the camera heavier than it needs to be.

Having two cameras, each with a different lens, is great for being able to switch around quickly, and will certainly help you to stay mobile. But just one camera and one lens would be even better. Forcing yourself to commit to one style of photography could be the best thing that you can do for your work. It will give you a recognisable trademark, something that makes you stand out from other photographers.

Get a new bag

How efficient is your camera bag, really? Most bags are built to fit exactly the equipment that they are bought for, which means that you will need a second bag for your other essentials. These can include a purse or wallet, phone, charger, model release forms, keys, and so on. How about getting a more efficient bag where you can store everything at once?

Some companies are making camera bags which actually look and function like normal bags too. This is better for travelling light and will also make you less of a target for thieves on the prowl for expensive equipment. When choosing a new bag, look for certain properties which will make it better suited. It should be as light as possible in weight, whilst remaining sturdy enough to bear heavy equipment. The bag needs to have multiple pockets so that you can separate camera gear from personal items. It must also be comfortable to carry. A messenger bag or backpack may be the best options.

Having everything together in one bag means that you have a much more efficient kit. It also means that you won’t be tempted to add more things to it – after all, you will be very limited on space.

Choose smart options

Finally, you can streamline your essentials even further by making smart choices when you buy your equipment. Try to go for lighter and smaller options. For example, you can get reflectors which fold away into very small shapes for easier storage. You could get a multi-port charger which fits all of your devices, rather than having to carry around several chargers. You can pick up the latest, most developed, and above all lightest flash gun. If you must have poles and tripods, you can go for carbon fibre constructions to keep it as light as possible. You can invest in a storage box that fits all of your spare memory cards in one, instead of carrying them in individual cases. You can take your model release forms digital and have your model sign them on your smartphone rather than carrying paper around. Everything you can do to cut even the smallest bit of weight or size from your kit will help you to travel lighter and more efficiently.

Following these tips, you will be able to arrive at a photoshoot with a single bag – and still produce top-quality images. Once you start cutting down, you’ll see how much easier it is to travel!


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