50mm lens (the nifty fifty) - In airports I find there are two things that are almost certain. First, the light won’t be as bright as I would like and second the action happens fast. Before I even leave home I will put on the trusty Nikon f1.4 50mm lens and bring up the ISO level just a bit. A nice little benefit is that the size of the 50mm lens attracts much less attention than the whopping zoom lens you used last week to shoot landscape shots. So I’m much more likely to catch someone in a spontaneous moment instead of wondering who the weirdo with the camera is.
Gallon size freezer bags – Pretty sure whoever invented these was a travel photographer. I personally use the handy zipper type closure type of bag. They work great for those times when you step out of the airport and right into a monsoon. I’ve also found the plastic bag works well to keep the sand and dust out if your bag finds itself strapped in as cargo on a C130 or helicopter. If you’ve ever been to the Middle East you’ll understand the term “moon dust” and the difficulty in keeping it out of your electronics (and everything else for that matter).
Keychain light – Sometimes the plane’s cabin is so dark that I can’t see the settings on the camera even though there is just enough light to try a photo. I hate being that one guy who turns on the overhead light on a long transatlantic flight so I started carrying a small key chain light that is just bright enough for me to double check my settings. A quick opening of the window shade for the photo and the grumpy passenger next to me is none the wiser. As a side benefit I also use it when I get where I’m going and find myself sitting on a beach before sunrise.
Business cards – Finally, I never (well almost never) leave home without a couple of business cards. In a perfect world I would be handing them out to potential clients who would immediately spend their hard earned money on my photos but in reality it adds a sense of professionalism. People are much more forgiving of a professional photographer compared to some random person pointing a camera at them. Who knows, they might even schedule a portrait session someday? To put their mind at ease I always offer to email them a high resolution copy of any photos I keep but I’ve yet to have anybody write to take me up on the offer.
So there you have it. That is what I take in my back pack, in addition to the ton of work related items, to make sure that I have my camera and some accessories to hopefully catch those brief moments of happiness while I’m traveling. So what do you take with you in your carry on bag? Have fun and happy shooting.
See you next week.