How I Travel With My Photo Gear

How I Travel With My Photo Gear

As many of you probably know, I’ve spent the last year traveling. Against all instincts from my Asian upbringing, I left my stable job at a big-name company and hit the road, finding myself in places like Italy, Vietnam, and New Zealand. During this time, I’ve been asked how I travel with my photo equipment. So here’s how I travel:

  1. Light.
  2. With a nice bag to transport my equipment.
  3. With a ghetto bag for everyday use.

This probably won’t work for everyone, but it’s just what works for me.

1.  I travel light. Yes, I would love to have just the right lens for every situation. But I’m 5’4″ (I recently discovered I’m really only like 5′ 3.75″ – rather traumatizing) and I don’t have all that much in the way of upper body strength. So this is what I carry.

That’s a Canon 5D MII, 50mm/f1.4, 24-70mm/f2.8L, and a 13″ MacBook Air.  I also have a small hard drive, various CF cards, cleaning pen, a blower, extra batteries, battery chargers, and my laptop power cord.  All the small items I put into a pouch that came with a LeSportSac bag I once purchased.

I would say that during my travels, I used the 24-70mm 80% of the time.  It has an extremely versatile range and was the best option for me when visiting a wide range of locations. Once I was more familiar with a location or felt like I had the wide shots I wanted, I would start using the 50mm.  It’s actually my preferred lens – it’s crisp, light, and yields a beautiful bokeh.  But to keep things light, I would choose one or the other, picking one before heading out for the day and making do.

2.  I bought myself a new bag for the sole purpose of transporting my gear.  Yes, it’s fancy.  Yes, it was expensive.  And yes, it was painful to purchase.  With my buyer’s remorse affliction, I’m surprised I didn’t return it.    But it was the only bag that fit my needs and I couldn’t find anything else I liked better.  I figured it was better to shell out the cash on something I would keep forever instead of spending it on something I’d want to replace eventually.

Here it is, photo taken from the Crumpler website.

This is the Crumpler Local Identity backpack in large.  I knew I wanted a low-key backpack that didn’t scream, “Expensive photo equipment in here – please jump me!”  It has a sleeve for my laptop, a removable camera pouch that is easily accessible via side zippers, and a large open space above the camera pouch for my accessories.  Perfect.

3.  I have a ghetto bag that I use to carry my camera around while sight-seeing.  This bag didn’t start out being ghetto.  I actually bought it in 2009 during a trip to Hong Kong.  But with all the use it’s gotten, it’s become faded and a bit torn up, making it perfect for hiding an expensive piece of equipment.  It consists of one giant, zippered pocket, with a small zippered pocket on the outside of the bag.  I empty everything out of the large pocket so that it is only holding my camera, allowing for easy access.  Everything else goes in the small outside pocket.  No, the bag isn’t padded, but I don’t go around plopping it down on any hard surfaces.  In the end, depending on how touristy the area is, I usually just walk around with my camera out anyways.  It’s only in the bag if I know I’m not shooting for a while or I don’t feel safe.

And really, that’s it.  The only other piece of equipment I hemmed and hawed over was a tripod.  We didn’t take our main Manfrotto one because it was too heavy, and the only time I regretted that was while we were in Cambodia at Angkor Wat at sunrise.  Then I could have fit in with all the guys who got front row seats.

So before heading to New Zealand, where I knew I would likely find myself wanting a tripod, we purchased a lighter Manfrotto tripod that fits in our luggage.  We now take it with us everywhere.  And by we, I mean my husband.  He carries it whenever we take it out.  Oh, and that leads me to #4.

4.  I have a husband.  Who carries everything else I can’t carry.  Here he is with our main tripod strapped to his snowboarding backpack. Thanks, honey!  [I don’t ever call him that.  But it seemed appropriate here.]

Hope everyone is having a happy Friday!

Leave a Reply