Professional Photographer # Hacks

Over the years I have discovered a few things that have helped my photography practice, some I have ‘stolen’ from production crews or other professional photographers that I have seen  using  the object / thing / practice, but some I have just decided that they were worth trying. Photography requires a practical mind, solving problems in order to produce the images that you and your client want, hopefully those results are the  same, but that’s another issue!

One BIG issue is travel, with a camera and all the extras you need, as a travel photographer working with holiday companies such as Thompson’s  and Tourist Boards you would think it was easy, a couple of cameras and a few lens and maybe a tripod? Yes, but what about the lighting, reflectors and film? It was a nightmare, especially with film, that had to be protected from X-ray.

Now, it is easier, kit is still heavy, but nothing like the Hasselblad & Linhof I used in film days, but lens are not light, and as I always have two bodies and a mixture of lens so they all add up.

I have found that looking like a photographer attracts attention and is bad for security, so I use a variety of tactics to keep, low key.

Camera cases and bags are now very good, but many are too expensive and very visible as to their contents.

I was once shooting in Switzerland and returned via Milan ( A helicopter ride from our location at Zermatt) Shooting on a couple of Linhof’s, I could only get one secured in the aircraft cabin, and the spare which I had only had for a few weeks, went into a camera flight case and was checked in, at arrival back at Birmingham International, all was fine, except the camera case, it never showed up!

That was when I decided to disguise kit whenever possible.I try to keep kit in non photo cases and always keep someone with it. There are some camera bags, that are impossible to improve on, I have used many over the years, but now I use a backpack type and Peak Design seem to be the best, they don’t look too extraordinary, looking more like a hikers backpack than a pro camera case and that suits mme, I use three not at the same time, but for many projects, it’s a lightweight, small bag (20 litre) with a Nikon Z7 and three lens. The Main kit is a D850 and three or four lens, but access to a few cases of glass, and specialist stuff, like triggers, filters and remote controls is usually close by.

For lighting and Stands and especially when flying with kit I  used luggage suitcases and ‘Golf Bags’ – they are classed as sports bags and attract less excess charge, they are BIG, robust and imply a golf bag and clubs! Not expensive carbon fibre tripods and camera gear, I do not put cameras in but certainly put portable lights, reflectors, and pad with clothes.

I extend the same practice to my current basic lighting kit, rather than ‘this is expensive camera kit’ I use a travel case that  looks more like a  simple suit case, maybe with a few clothes and shoes?

I am aware that no bag or #Hack has made a great image, but using equipment that keeps my kit safe and me a little more relaxed about security, does improve the way I work, able to travel a lot lighter and not stick out makes my work a little bit easier.

More Hacks – please check out my BLOG again soon, there are more on the way!