Back in June, Dasha and I hired a couple of models, flew off to Rome and spent 5 days shooting wedding photos, fashion photos, grungy photos, you-name-it-let’s-try-it photos. We spent one night up till 5am, met a fellow travel and photography enthusiast who seems to be on a permanent holiday (Eddie, how I wish I was you!) and generally just had an amazing time.
Best of all, it was all for us. We weren’t there to capture someone’s wedding day, or to shoot for a high-end fashion editor. It was done just for the heck of it, to have some fun, and challenge ourselves and what we know about photography.
It’s days like those where I really fall in love with photography all over again. I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone (no matter what your day job) to go out and do something different whenever you can. Ok, it was photography, but not on a scale or to a set rule book that I might otherwise encounter.
And because the client was myself, I could really go into every shoot with a blank slate as to what the end result was going to be, the models, Dasha and I ended up batting ideas off each other all the time. If something wasn’t working, one of us would simply switch pose/camera angle and suddenly we were right back in the zone. Every great artist has their muses, and with Roisin (www.facebook.com/roisinmm) and Chrissie (www.facebook.com/chrissiewrightmodel) for five incredible days in Rome, I definitely found mine.
That’s not to say it was all plain sailing and easy as pie. We had to arrange flights (including the models, since we had opted to work with ones we knew and had prior shooting experience with) and ensure sufficient baggage allowances to carry the outfits and equipment, as well as personal clothing and accessories.
So, what DO you take with you? A camera. A standard portrait lens, clearly. And a wide angle. And a telephoto. A couple of flashes, flash controllers, maybe consider some lightstands, a tripod and a monopod. Chargers and batteries (for camera AND flash). A reflector? Maybe a softbox? And backups of everything in case anything fails? That list gets LENGTHY! Oh, but maybe you can skip the lightstands and tripods because in half the places you visit they are banned anyway…. So maybe just a monopod. But what if you want to do a slow exposure shot somewhere – throw the tripod back in. And so it goes back and forth, on and on.
Ultimately, our kit included;
- Nikon D810
- Nikkor 14-24
- Nikkor 50 1.8
- Tamron 70-200
- Nikkor Micro 105 VR
- 2 Nikon SB700 speedlights with Yongnuo YN622 remotes
- A fold up 5-in-1 reflector
- A fold up lastolite ezybox (which I don’t think we ever used)
- MeFOTO Roadtrip Tripod (which can double up as a monopod as you can detach one of the legs – also effectively giving you a handheld boom arm for the flashes)
- as well as plenty of memory cards, batteries, chargers and various small bits like remote controls for when the camera was on the tripod
- All carried using a Peli 1510 rugged roller case, which doubled up as a safety deposit box for unused equipment and passports/travel money/etc when we got to our location.
I rarely used the 50mm, which I took mainly because it was light and covered that middle ground in the perspective. I could have survived with the wide and tele zooms alone, though I still did love working with the 105mm micro. It has for a long time been a favourite lens. The versatility of the two zooms for shooting portraits on the go meant that often when we were out I took just the 14-24 and the 70-200, with the 50mm shoved in a pocket it’s so tiny. Having the wide angle and telephoto to switch between meant that I could very easily come away from each shoot setup with two completely looks.
Until recently, where I’ve acquired the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, I was never a huge fan of the perspective a 50mm (or thereabouts) gives you, but more on that another day!
The other thing about taking too much kit when doing photography abroad – carrying it around when you get there! We tried to limit how much of the stuff we would take with us, for example we generally only took one flash out with us during daytime shoots (as we had the sun and a reflector as additional light sources we could rely on). We also only take the tripod when we knew there was going to be a genuine need for it (and no risk of being stopped from using it!).
All I can say is this; think VERY carefully about what you really are going to need, what you can’t live without and what you’re going to do with the stuff that you only occasionally use. We had a couple of extra locks for the Peli case which meant that as well as locking the case shut, it was securely locked to both a piece of heavy furniture and the radiator at the accommodation we were staying at. So whilst we were out shooting, the less used equipment was as safe as we could make it, save taking it with us.
Whilst it can be heavy, the Peli case is rugged enough that I knew if for some reason security screenings at the airport decided the bag should go in the hold, my equipment would go unharmed. (though cynics might argue it may never have got to its final destination…)
More to come!
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