for photographers | travel tips
While the majority of the wedding and portrait work that we do is local, there’s still a fair amount that requires that we be away from our home for at least a night. And while it can be daunting to travel as a photographer with heavy bags of gear and electronics, we’ve worked it down to a pretty simple science that we’d love to share with you today so that hopefully your next trip is easier and less stressful. This post is mainly for other photographers but for you brides and grooms (and fans of photography in general) out there, consider this a behind the scenes look at what goes into what we do when we travel for you!
1. The best investment we made in our traveling for work was a legit travel gear bag. Our favorite is the Think Tank Airpot International V2. It’s small enough to fit as a carry on for most airlines (it will fit for international flights too but sometimes European airlines go by weight instead of size and then you’ve just got to use your powers of persuasion to get them to agree to you bringing it on the flight with you) and it’s big enough to hold just about everything we need. It also locks and has a cord that you can use to tie to to the furniture in your hotel room or anyplace so that no one and pick it up and run with it. Brilliant!
2. When flying, we utilize the 2 carry on rule to our full advantage. (We can take everything you see in that picture above with us on the plane. Minus the sofa, and the sheepskin. You get the idea.) Airlines allow you to have 1 carry on item and one personal item but they aren’t specific about the sizes of each as long as they both are small enough to fit in the overhead compartment. We try to carry as much on as we can and sometimes we don’t even check a bag depending on how short of a trip we are taking. Nate generally takes the Think Tank bag and his Kelley Boy camera bag while I usually pack my camera bag and bring a bigger tote bag filled with in-flight entertainment and organizational goodies. I bring our regular carry on suitcase with clothes and toiletries with me. It’s always best to have at least one change of clothes and a toothbrush with you on the plane just in case your luggage doesn’t make it to your destination. You’d be surprised how much you can fit in those carry on suitcases if you organize your things well.
3. I’m not a light packer. And I never has been. Nate isn’t either to be honest, especially not where gear is concerned (“Becka do you think we’ll need this [insert obscure piece of photography equipment that we haven't used or needed in at least two years] for the trip? No? I’m gonna pack it anyway just in case!”) so we’ve had to get good at being organized. Camera gear is limited to what we can carry on. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to weddings that book our PARTYBOOTH, which has to be checked or mailed.) For our personal stuff, as a minimum we each usually bring two nice outfits, a swimsuit (because there’s always a hot tub to be found somewhere), two casual outfits and two pairs of shoes. Thow in an an extra top or two for good measure and sometimes I’ll pack a maxidress because it’s the easiest outfit ever. This might seem like overkill but it’s nice to have options. You never know when the bridal party will invite you out for drinks and dancing the night after the wedding! ;)
4. In our opinion, better safe than sorry. We always overpack incidentals just to be safe. We usually have an entire box full of AA batteries from Amazon- way more than we’d need. I take screenshots of our travel confirmations after I book them and keep them in a travel folder on my desktop just so that I can quickly access the order numbers in an emergency. I also use an app called TripIt which stores all my travel information, flight confirmation numbers, itineraries, and contact numbers. It’s AMAZING, and it’s free. That being said, you also need to have all your gear insured and the model numbers written down and stored for each piece in case of theft. We have ours as well as our computers insured through a pretty sweet policy via ShootQ and Pictage. PPA also offers insurance options. Also, after our work is over we backup all the images from the cards to a portable hard drive. One of us carries the hard drive with us at all times and the other carries the (un-formatted) cards with them. That way, in case one gets lost or stolen we have a backup. Sometimes we even make a third backup on our laptop if we’re worried. Saftey first!
5. And in case you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of what we generally pack: Our main camera bodies, backup camera bodies, 85 1.2L, 50 1.2L, 35 1.4L, 24 1.4L, 100 2.8, multiple flashes, triggers and receivers, the brackets we use for them, batteries, CF cards, card reader, portable hard drive, mini LED lights, lumiquest bounces, filters, usually 1 film camera, macbook air and charger, iPad, our phones and chargers, earbuds, the clothes listed in number 3, makeup and toiletries, a hair straightener, larabars, gum, cash for tips, taxi’s, and snacks, and maybe a journal if I’m feeling inspired.
Brides and Grooms… curious where we’ve traveled to shoot? Well, here’s links to a few blogs posts requiring travel near and far in case you’re curious: Southern California, San Francisco, The Great Lakes, Michigan, Indiana, New York, The Keys, St. Augustine (a bunch!), Sarasota, South Florida, Puerto Rico (this one’s an oldie!), Savannah…
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