I am asked all the time by folks on what to to pack when traveling. Two types of questions - what to pack in their luggage (clothing) and what to pack in their photo bag. I will address the latter and have a separate post for the former.
Remember, and I'll repeat it once again at the end that "less is more". Ok? Let's begin ...
Camera bag. This may seem trivia, but it's the best place to start. While traveling with camera gear, I want to be as nimble as possible and not having to carry multiple things; it
just gets in the way when I'm out and about shooting. After going through several (several) types of bags, I've come to appreciate backpack style bags b/c they seem to be the most comfortable and non-intrusive. The main thing is size; try to keep it to 30L capacity or less. Any larger will not only weigh you down, but just wreaks "I'm carry expensive stuff on my back". I prefer ones that don't look like photo bags. I've recently gone with a company called Wandrd and their backpack doesn't look like a camera bag, is small yet large enough to house all of my camera needs for a 3 week junket. Plus, I love supporting smaller, creative companies like this!
Camera. Duh! I've gone with one single body on most of my photo junkets, but I'll usually throw in a small (kinda) kit just in case. I've gravitated towards the Fujifilm x100 series camera that has a fixed lens (not interchangeable) and pull it out while doing street/village photography when I want to try to not draw attention to myself (by wielding a huge camera). Don't forget those extra batteries! I recommend 3 for a DSLR and 5 for mirrorless cameras.
Lenses. For landscapes, wide angle zoom lenses fit the bill ranging from 14-35mm at the very least with an f/4. For portraits, a medium zoom is fine from 24-70mm, same f/4, <f/2.8 better. That's because while on tour, we sometimes find ourselves indoors shooting in natural low-light conditions and the faster the lens, the easier time you will have capturing the type of images we teach you to capture. Fixed or prime lenses are good for this as f/1.8 or 1.4 f-stops are achievable in small compact sizes - 28mm, 35mm or 50mm are good ranges to consider.
Memory cards. Just like batteries, make sure you've got enough memory cards to last you your entire trip without having to re-use them (during your trip). The goal is to fill a card to near capacity, then swap it out for a fresh one. Store the spent one in a case and never use it again on your trip. Repeat this until you home. Along the way, make sure that you also take along a laptop and portable drive to off-load what you've shot each and every evening - what can I say, I'm a redundancy freak when it comes to freshly shot images.
Supporting accessories. If you're going to shoot landscapes, round and square filters will make your life a lot easier when shooting at critical times of the day (sunrise and sunset). At the very least, a 3-stop (I personally love the 10-stop) round neutral density (ND) and a soft graduated neutral density (GND) with at least 3-stops. Headlamps are a must if you're out
before dawn and after sunset as they allow you to have hands free lighting on your way back to the car or campsite after shooting is over. I prefer the one from Biolite as it provides a lightweight, well balanced and rechargeable battery. Make sure you also have a lightweight tripod sturdy enough to hold the weight of your camera - it's essential for landscape photography. Choose one that folds up into your luggage as it's a pain to carry it as a carry-on piece.
Put these to use and check out our upcoming cultural photo tours in one of the most endearing parts of the world. Join us this October! We'll surely challenge you to seek and find the one of the most rewarding experiences - tell a friend!