Standardize and Keep It Simple
By Bob Krist
A trip on location is not an excuse to load everything you own into bags and take it with you. True, I take backups for my most-used lenses and cameras, but they stay locked up in the hotel room and hopefully, I won’t need to use them. As a rule, if I can’t comfortably carry it around all day in my bag, it stays at home or back in the hotel. Travel photography is a very fluid thing and you must be able to react quickly.
And you can’t react quickly if you’re loaded down with gear. Unfortunately, today you can’t safely leave anything in the trunk of a rental car anywhere, so that’s no longer an option.
I was recently on a press trip in the Caribbean with a photographer who had everything. Whenever we spotted a picture and stopped the van, my colleague took about 10 minutes to load himself up with a huge 300mm lens, a big tripod, a fisheye lens, an extra fannypack, etc. Spontaneous grab shots and found moments were, of course, out of the question. And by the time he emerged, festooned with all the gear, the picture was gone (and I was finished shooting it), and he became the center of attention instead of capturing it on film.
To further lighten my load, I standardize whenever possible. Batteries, for instance, are a necessary evil for a traveling photographer, and their weight and bulk can easily add up to a major burden. Everything I carry — cameras, flash units, battery packs, meters, travel alarm, flashlight, shortwave radio, etc. — runs on AA batteries. I don’t need to carry four different types of batteries, just a whole slew of reasonable, easily replaced AAs.
Once, on a domestic flight in India, all my batteries, including those already in cameras and flashes, were confiscated from my carryon bags before I boarded. They were supposed to be returned to me upon arrival, but somehow during the flight , the batteries disappeared. I was left literally powerless in the middle of rural southern India. Even in this fairly remote location though, AAs were easy to find, and I was up and running again in no time.
Copyright 2006–2011 Bob Krist. Reproduced with permission. No Internet reproduction or other usage permitted. For more information send an email.