Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Traveling with photography gear

We didn't get a chance to blog every day from the Broome workshop as we were out of mobile range for the majority of the trip. So to make up for it I am going to run a few posts over the next few days relating to the experiences we had on the trip. To start with a brief post about travelling with camera gear. This is one of the most asked about questions at the moment with airlines cracking down on baggage allowances all over the place.

The first thing I do is try to drive. This way I can carry as much gear as I want including loads of spares and "what if" equipment. When driving I usually take two camera bags packed full of gear and at least two tripods. Then I have all the equipment I could possible imagine.

If the drive is too long which means more than 8 hours, then flying makes more sense. When flying I take only what I need for the job with a spare body (total of 3 bodies) and take it all as carry on. This normally fits inside my Think Tank Photo Airport Addicted backpack (See above). If I need a little more room for longer projects then I take on the slightly oversized Airport Security. Inside these bags I pack all of the gear needed to get me on the ground running so everything from laptops to batteries and chargers. No point having a bunch of cameras with no power. Tripods have to get checked but everything else comes in the cabin with me.

This came up on the course as on participant landed and his checked baggage did not. He had some of his camera gear with him but no chargers for his phone, laptop and cameras and a few lenses still in transit somewhere or even worse in the trunk of someone else's car! Things turned out okay in the end with his gear turning up the next day but it does go to show that you want all or your gear on your person at all times so you can hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination.

Now all this metal and glass will take you over the stated weight of seven kilograms but there are ways and means to get around this. The first way is to not get checked. I have only been checked once so far but it will happen again one day and if you know the rules though you can get around them. You are allowed one bag of seven kilos, a laptop which can be in a separate bag, a camera and they don't weigh you. I usually travel in a pair of trousers with large pockets, large enough to accommodate a 70-200 f2.8 and another lens in the pockets. If they are weighing peoples carry-on at the check-in take a couple of lenses out of the bag stick them in your pockets. Place all chargers and cables in with the laptop and sling the camera over your shoulder and instantly you have lost a pile of weight from your check-in bag. On the one occasion I had my carry-on weighed I did this in front of the attendant and was allowed aboard. Strange but they allow it. Probably not worth the argument most of the time.

Most of the time though getting to the airport early, a jovial smile and a joyful disposition is enough to get you through. And remember they are just doing their job and just because you are a photographer the same rules still apply. If you are forced to check your gear you have to take it on the chin, fork up the cash and hope your gear arrives in one piece.

The last option is to freight your gear there ahead of time. I am doing this more and more with spare equipment and large lenses as time allows. Sometimes back to back jobs don't allow this but I can take the minimum equipment onbaord and know the rest will be on location when I get there.

Happy Snapping


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