The Traveling Photographer: My Photo Survival Kit!

The whole setup

The whole setup

It is important to note the gear does not make the photographer, the photographer makes the gear. You are only as good as the ability in which you are able to use the tools given to you. With the practice of lighting techniques, creativity, and the functionality of your camera I believe you can create an incredible quality of work with just about anything.

Life on the road is fun but a challenge. You can’t bring much with you when traveling in a van for four months with a couple other people. The gear that I have choosen is based on what will work well with my style of photography, with the limited space of the van living situation. I recommend going out and trying different brands to see what will work best for you. I started on a Canon Rebel XTI four years ago to learn basic camera functions and have stuck with the brand ever since. I have loved every Canon I’ve used from the Rebel XTI, Rebel T3I, EOS 7D, and most recently the 5D Mark II. I have also tried out Sony and Nikon full frame bodies. While all brands have their pros and cons, Canon has made me pretty happy all around during my photography career.

Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 5D Mark II

MacBook Pro Retina Display – Besides my camera, my MacBook Pro is my most important tool. The retina display makes my photos pop and it’s light and portable so it makes editing on the road easy. It has saved my sanity numerous times this tour by giving me something to do on those 9 – 12 hour drive days and made keeping up with my business and the nonprofit so easy. This computer was a Christmas gift to me from 20+ of my friends and I cherish it every day.

Canon 5D Mark II – With it’s full frame 21 megapixel sensor and high ISO capability the Mark II has proved to be my favorite camera I’ve ever owned. It works so well in low light shooting wedding receptions or conceptual work after sunset. On year two of using this camera I don’t have much to complain about other than focusing in low light. I wish Canon had the focusing light like a Nikon but if I’m having a problem I switch over to live view and focus manually. It’s sturdy and fast and the weatherproofing has come in handy so many times shooting in the rain. To me, it is what I know, love, and it feels like home. It has withstood a lot of bumps, drops, and other catastrophe’s of a conceptual photographer and has retained it’s quality. It has become an extension of myself in I spend less time worrying about the functions and more time worrying about getting the perfect shot. I’m hoping to upgrade to the Mark III or 6D within the next few years.

Canon 50mm 1.2L – This was my dream lens that I saved and saved every penny for and the lens I use primarily. I had upgraded from the 50mm 1.8 after I had broken it. It’s sharper, faster, and sturdier which is a huge help since clumsiness is one of my more charming qualities and I needed something to withstand a lot of bumping. It has retained it’s sharpness and quality through two years of use. I don’t often shoot wide open, but when I do the depth of field is beautiful.

Sharpness at 100% zoom

Sharpness at 100% zoom

50mm 1.2 RAW file

50mm 1.2 RAW file

Canon 35mm f/2 – I use this lens mostly for fashion and underwater work because it gives me a little bit extra room in the frame while keeping a really great depth of field.

Canon 35mm f/2

Canon 35mm f/2

Canon 35mm f/2

Canon 35mm f/2

Canon EF 28-135mm Zoom – Kit lens that came with my Canon 7D. It’s a lens that gets used maybe once or twice a year for charity events that I need to be farther back to capture the moment. Gets the job done with okay quality, for a kit lens. I also used this lens for a few landscape photos during the tour when I didn’t feel like using my 50mm and expanding.

Canon EF 28-135mm

Canon EF 28-135mm

Kingston 64GB CF card – Shooting in RAW you need a large card and I absolutely LOVE my 64GB from Kingston. It’s so speedy to capture and even with 700+ RAW files my camera is still at 999. Between the two 64GBs I was able to shoot four months of work and travel without clearing the cards (which of course, isn’t reccommended! Back up your files!)

SanDisk Extreme 16GB Compact Flash Cards – I used SanDisk 16s before I made the switch over to Kingston. They are speedy to capture but I found the 16GB to be lacking in the space I needed in shooting in RAW. If I was booked up with client shoots or conceptual work I found myself having to dump the cards far too often which isn’t optimal for life on the road where you might not have the oppurtinity to clear your cards as often as you would like.

Opteka Remote – I keep so many of these with me. You never know when you are going to be in an incredible location and need to take a conceptual self portrait. I tend to lose things so I keep a number of these handy just in case.

Remotes, lenses, and cards. Remotes, lenses, and cards.[/caption

Wacom Intous Pro Tablet – I LOVE my tablet. It makes getting those fine details when compositing or editing skin for fashion so easy and effortless. It allows you to be very precise in your editing. I’m thrilled with it’s wireless capabilities which makes editing on the go that much easier without having to worry about finding cords and staying connected.

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AGH Tripod with Pistol Grip – Vangaurd is incredible and has been such a support to myself and our students this tour. I love their tripods! The body is light but sturdy and the pistol grip head allows for maximum ease of movement so as to allow me to change compositions rapidly. It’s so easy to set up and has a lot of versitility for different angles that are effortless to set up!

Vanguard Personalized Wild Ones Sedona 45BL Bag – I love my bag. Vanguard was awesome and had my bag embroidered with my name and our Wild Ones logo! It’s outdoorsy enough for fantastic use while hiking, which we did a lot this tour. The top pocket allows for quick access for your camera but the back access keeps your lenses and personal belongs safe and secure which I often worry about in large cities. It also has a vent system in the back to keep you cool. It has plenty of pockets to maximum storage and I was even able to slip my laptop in there for portability.

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