As a young man I once had the opportunity to assist a National Geographic photographer. He travelled with cases and cases of photographic gear; whatever the photograph that presented itself, be it a moonscape or an ant’s head, he was ready! Conversely, enigmatic photographer Josef Koudelka claims he travels only with cameras, film, a spare pair of glasses and two shirts with money and a passport in the top pockets. And we’re talking seriously lengthy journeys here. I’m definitely not as spartan as Koudelka, I like my luxuries too much. But neither do I require the many cases the Geographic photographer felt he needed to get the job done.
I’m about to leave Melbourne for a three-week shoot in South East Asia. The packing is mostly done because I always keep a bag ready for any quick trips I might have to make. I keep four of everything in my bag, socks, underwear and shirts. They are wrapped around any pieces of equipment I keep in my check-in luggage. Things like cables, chargers, spare batteries, the occasional extra lens and a Swiss Army knife, a tool that has come in handy on many an occasion. Also shoved in amongst my socks are two Sunpak VL_LED-09 Compact Video Lights. They’re just strong enough to kick a small amount of light into the dark corners of a room without overpowering the natural light. Because they are only slightly bigger than a cigarette pack, they don’t take up much space in my case.
For this project I will be travelling with 2 x Fuji X-Pro1 bodies, a 35mm lens, 18mm lens and a 14mm lens. I will also have the Fuji X100S camera with me; I like to have it in my pocket even when I’m not working.
I always keep my cameras, lenses, several spare batteries, memory cards and film and a laptop in my carry-on luggage. If I’m on a long trip or I know I’ll be shooting a lot of images I keep a spare hard drive in there as well as a second hard drive wrapped in underwear in the check-in bag. Incidentally, the carry-on bag I’m using is a Crumpler backpack which is just big enough to contain all my photo gear, my Kindle, spare glasses and the small medicine kit I travel with. It’s handy to have a bag you can carry on your back; this frees up your hands to shoot.
For most of this trip I will be in isolated places so I’ve taken a few test shots just to be certain the equipment I’m taking with me is all in good working order. I know the camera gear works well but there’s nothing wrong with being overly cautious before a long trip.