The photographer’s eye is a training of sorts. Training your mind to see the world differently, and not accepting the first quick snap or angle that comes easily. It’s about training your eye and mind to turn the world upside down, to look at everything around you from a new perspective, to continue searching for a better approach, a better angle, and better light. It’s about blending the imagery you create with emotion, mood, symbolism, meaning, beauty and perspective from all creates at any height. It’s about marrying how you feel and what you see with what the camera can produce, and that’s why it’s an art form.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the field and felt overwhelmed with emotion, because of the pure beauty of the natural world, and yet struggled to bring it life through the optics of my camera, and for the life of me, it’s happened often to where I couldn’t shake the desire to capture what I was feeling. So I would push on, beyond my limits, hiking around places I had no business lugging a camera case with me, yet I couldn’t stop until I found the right mood and story. It happens to all dedicated photographers, and in those moments, you give in to the flow state and let the experience take you wherever it may lead.
While I’d love to give you a definitive guide of tips and tricks to help you avoid such moments, those are the moments that make you grow as an artist. And besides, every photographer is different in what they create, what drives them, what they’re good at, and what they’re searching for, and gear changes dramatically between each consideration. For me, in my early days, I used to carry an umbrella, light, stand, and battery pack, on top of all of my bodies, lenses, cards and accessories, and it was a true hinderance. And even though I was able to capture people in their natural states beautifully, my work and my experience creating suffered.
My best advice is to consider the absolute basics of what you need and to then leave it at that. If you’re like Joey L and require all of the lighting, then get smart about it by considering the weight, the volume, and the means of free flowing movement between shots. He has a crew that goes with him, and sometimes that may just be a buddy of his, but he would struggle to create the quality of work he creates throughout Africa if it weren’t for his support system. For me, I lean away from humanity and more toward the natural world, capturing how mesmerizing a simple thing like a sunrise can be. That’s what drives me…
So I plan and pack accordingly, with my main body and a backup body, one or two versatile lenses that can do wide and semi-zoomed in, and I take a few cards, a lightweight tripod and my MacBook Air, and I make the best of it. Sure there might be a moment where if only I had a 800mm with me then I could have captured a bird or something, but truly, for what I want to create and what drives me, I don’t need all of the bells and whistles. However, if you’re wanting to shoot editorials, or wildlife, then you have to adhere to what gives you the best results.
These days, I’ve learned my lesson and so when I’m on a long trek in the wilderness, where I’m living out of my backpack with a tent and sleeping bag as well, then I go bare bones with one body, one lens, two cards and no laptop. However, if it’s a paid trip with an employer wanting specific things, then that changes things a bit, but as a photographer who works majority of the time for his own portfolio submissions, then I take some chances. So in this case, I would pack light so I can carry enough survival gear to get me through.
When I’m roaming around Europe, however, things change, and I will always pack bigger and better, and of course, smarter. For security of my gear and for the sake of ease of travel, I love to employ a hardshell case like Pelican’s 1615 Air Case, which is a versatile, yet very strong case, built to weather the bad days, and yet feature-rich as to only enrich the experience of the photographer.
Pelican’s 1615 Air Case with Foam is the way I like to travel, because I can literally throw it around and my gear won’t feel a thing. It’s waterproof and fitted with an automatic purge valve that keeps water and dust out while balancing air pressure. The 1615 Air Case has a retractable extension handle, quiet rolling stainless steel bearing wheels, and is very lightweight for its size as it’s made with a super-light proprietary HPX2 Polymer. The reason I love working with Pelican is not only due to the snug fitting foam insert, but because their cases are built to handle the wear and tear of a true off-road trip, yet offers the security I need for my expensive gear, as well as the perk of being ergonomic and easy to travel with. All in all, Pelican Case is where it’s at for serious photographers who carry serious gear into the field. If you would like to learn more about Pelican Case, click here.
If you would like to learn more about Pelican Case, click here.
(Photo by sanmitrakale via Flickr)