Hey Zack - just curious...how much gear do you carry around when you shoot an assignment on location? How do you transport it up and down stairs, elevators, alleys, etc?
I typically have three bags on most assignments.
ThinkTank Airport Security Roller - Cameras, lenses, Pocket Wizards, hot shoe flashes, cards, etc.
ThinkTank Logistics Manager - Larger lights (Einsteins), reflectors, grids, Vagabond Minis, clamps, swivel adapters, misc grip, cords, gaff tape, etc.
That’s the typical location set of gear. Sometimes I take a Flashpoint case holding a 22” beauty dish goes along. When I take it I take a Kupo C-Stand with arm and a 25 lb. sand bag. Sometimes I’ll take a full apple box as well if I think I need it to stand on or use as a stool or something. An apple box is always good to have around.
If I know I’m going to have to park far from my shoot or have to move it from one side of a corporate campus to another then I have a thing called a Rock n roller multicart. It folds up nicely for transport in my car and then can be used in a few different configurations to move gear.
If all of this has to go with me then I’ll hire an assistant to help with the logistics of moving all this stuff around.
All of this can fit in the back of my ‘05 Scion XB.
Hey Zack. Thanks for the last answer to my Q. You rock man! So, Im shooting my first wedding out of the country for a family member. What is your recommendation on equipment and Bag to go through security at the airport?
The Think Tank Photo International is a great, great, great bag for, as the name implies, international travel.
Travel light. 2 bodies. A few lenses covering wide angle to telephoto. A flash. Cards. Extra batteries. Chargers. Hopefully you aren’t going to Canada. They are the biggest sons-a-bitches for crossing borders with camera gear. They have no problem turning you around in a heart beat if they even have .0001% of a hint that you are going there to work. Better have proper paper work in advance. All other countries I’ve been to have never given me grief. Not that I’ve been to all of them but I’ve been to a good sampling of different countries without issue… except for Canada.
I love Canada. I hate traveling there.
Hi Zack! Can you give an idea of how to travel with lighting gear? How do you deal with this kind of odd sized items on a flight? Thanks.
Piece of cake! I have this system down.
First, I have a Think Tank Logistics Manager bag for lighting and grip. It holds 3 heads of light (Einstein/Alien Bees), extension cords, clamps, rolls of gaff tape, speed rings, etc. It also holds two Vagabond Mini’s without the batteries. The FAA doesn’t like the batts in checked bags so they are carried on with me on the plane. It also has my tripod head. This bag weighs exactly 49 pounds. The Logistics Manager is quite possibly the coolest photo bag ever made. It’s $500 but worth every single penny. It has kept my gear safe on many, many, many a flight.
Next up is my Lightware 48” roller bag for stands and modifiers. It holds 4 60” umbrellas, Big Mama (50” softbox), 4 light stands, a monopod, cross bar, tripod legs, and misc other modifiers or small grip gear. Guess what it weighs? 49 pounds. Just under the 50 pound mark. Some airlines allow larger bags to weigh 70 pounds but sometimes skycaps don’t know that or whatever and you get grief at the airport. Keep these bags under 50 and you are fine.
I have a Flashpoint Beauty Dish Case that I usually ship to location. I stick an $79
salad bowl beauty dish in it that sometimes has cost me $100 each way on a flight to move around. You could pretty much just buy a new dish, ship it to a hotel, throw it away at the end of the shoot, and save money. Problem is, Paul Buff doesn’t make the dish I have any more. I’ll fly with it if the client is paying for it. I’ll ship it if not. Or just live without it if I can or borrow/rent one when I get to where I’m going.
About four years ago Meg convinced me to just stick with one airline. I used to fly Cheap Air so I went with whoever was cheapest. I never accrued mileage on any one airline so I never made the upgrade levels of service and all that. Once I stuck with one airline (Delta) I started to move up through the upgrade levels.
I can now fly with two or three bags for free depending on my flight and if I get upgraded. When I flew with Dan a lot (He’s moved to NYC) he had gold status and got a few bags as well so we typically flew these past few years without paying any baggage fees. Makes taking the salad bowl easier when if flies free.
One more travel tip - When putting your stuff through the xray machine put it through in this order… Tub with shoes and belt. Tub with laptop. Laptop bag. Camera bag. Your camera bag is going to stop the belt as they blast it with xrays trying to find out what’s in there. While they are staring at your camera bag, your shoes, belt, and laptop are out. You can get dressed and be ready to grab your camera bag and go once it’s out.
I find that I don't shooot nearly as much as I want. I want to focus on shooting the everyday aspects of peoples life in the 21st century. Street Photography I guess you could call it. Anyways, what do you about the idea to buy a backpack camera bag, to force me to shoot more? My idea of buying it, is that idealy I would put all my gear in it, and bring it with me everywhere I go. Again, forcing me to shoot. Smart? Dangerous?
I’d say a backpack of gear is overkill. You need to travel lighter than that on the streets. One body. One lens.
Backpacks on the street can be tricky as well. It’s hard to reach into quickly and if you’re in crowded places they are easy to open, pick stuff out of, and you’ll never know it was happening. I prefer a small shoulder bag for street work if I have to have a bag at all. It’s easy to put something into and get stuff out of.
Don’t take “all your gear”. You might as well strap a cement block to your back.
Everyone is going to think I’m officially paid off by Fuji and that is not the case, but something like an x100 or xPro-1 is a dream for street shooting. Don’t like the Fuji? Try the Oly OM-D or the Sony NEX-5-6-7-8 thing.
If you really, really, really want to shoot street maybe you could afford to sell a DSLR item (not the whole kit) and get something small that will always be with you.
Seriously. You could offer me a backpack of DSLR gear or an x100 for street shooting and I’d pick the x100 every time.