As I write this I’m sitting in the airport on my way to do some work for onOne Software at a Kelby Training event happening over the next few days in both Dallas and Phoenix. Since I’m only away for a couple of nights it meant I will need no more than a small carry-on and a back-pack to haul my laptop and miscellaneous gear. Two bags, that’s it. I’ll have no time for photography, so I didn’t bring a camera (well, I do have my iPhone). Feels … nice … to be traveling so light.
My typical MO when doing any type of travel means carrying my “normal” luggage, plus at least one bag filled with camera gear. That usually consists of my Pelican case plus a ThinkTank messenger bag (the Retrospective 10, here’s the product on Amazon) I use for carry-on stuff like my wallet, Kindle, etc. That camera gear alone equals the amount of luggage I’m traveling with right now, so add to that a suitcase and backpack for my laptop … well, it ends up being a lot to travel with.
The more I travel the more I learn what camera gear I can live without. I photographed the image in this post while I was in Vietnam with my Canon 5DMkII and Canon 70-200mm lens, a camera/lens combination I ended up using for over 90% of the still photographs I took during my trip. That will always be in my bag, and I could probably even get away with traveling with just that setup for most photography trips. However, knowing what to bring can still be tough—when you don’t know what you’ll be encountering on your travels or the types of opportunities you’ll have you tend to want to bring it all. And when you do other types of photography like I do, such as timelapse, then an additional camera body and at least on wide-angle lens is required (plus a tripod). It never ends.
My attitude towards camera gear is akin to a love-hate relationship. I need gear to do my work, and I need different lenses and camera bodies depending on what I’ll be photographing. Yet I hate hauling it around, especially when I’m traveling overseas or on vacation. I hate being the person who looks like I overpacked when the majority of the luggage I have is camera-related.
I wish I could travel light wherever I went, just like I am right now, which is probably why I’m always trying out new bags for my gear and luggage. I’m trying to make my life much more “minimalistic” and the fact that I’m a photographer doesn’t really help. It’s a constant struggle, trying to find that balance with what you think you’ll need versus how much you want to bog you down.
I’m finding that in my life I can live with so much less than I used to think I needed, and I’m trying to integrate this thought-path in my career as a photographer as well … it’s not really an issue of “less stuff” as it is with having “just enough” stuff. Camera companies and photography stores will tell us over and over that we “need” to have the next big thing, or another lens, or another accessory. Is there ever a point when it ends, when we have all we’ll ever need?
Okay, ramblings over. Time to board my flight :)