The Travelling Bill Curry
On Travelling as a Photographer
One of the great joys of photography is that it can be done almost anywhere. We got back from our trip to Florida and the Turks and Caicos and I got thinking about other trips and some ideas about being a travelling artist. The first thing is, of course, what to take and how to take it. I have seen in our sojourns people with huge cases for their photo gear, and enough gear to require a Sherpa if you were going to actually use it all. Other folks give up on taking really good images and simply carry a phone or a small point and shoot. I’m more in the middle, I guess. I want to make good photos, and for me that requires something with manual controls. I also like being able to blow up the image to a good size when I get back, so I want an APS-C or Full Frame camera. Given those constraints, here’s where I am now.
My main rule in air travel is that there are two types of luggage on a plane – carryon and lost. So, I take a little suitcase (it’s a Travel Pro job that is 20” total including the wheels and handle) that fits carryon regulations for almost any airline, and I take my permitted “personal item” which is my photography bag. For most major airlines, this is my Thinktank Streetwalker – as it is the perfect size for most large airlines as an allowed second carryon. Given that limitation, I then think carefully about what I might be shooting. On our last trip south, it was more important to have some lenses that could go wide-open, and so I took my Nikon d800e body and two fixed lenses – a 24mm for landscape and a 50mm for just touring around, both f1.4 lenses. This worked in caves and at night for a space launch, as well as for normal shooting. I also took my Fuji X-Pro2 and its 35mm f2.0 lens as a “street” camera, giving up the large blow up ability, but gaining portability and a degree of “sneaky” as the d800e and even a small lens is still a big camera! This all fits in a smaller bag than the Streetwalker, so I used my “other” carryon bag, a Thinktank Mirrorless Mover which would go without a second glance on even the smallest of airplanes. When we went to Europe a few years ago, we flew direct both ways to and from Canada to Rome, and so I could take my larger bag, and on that trip I took the d800e and a 24-70 f2.8 zoom and a small backup Nikon fixed lens camera, now replaced with the Fuji. I would note I also have a small “travel” tripod as well – one that the head comes off, and with its 4 collapsible legs, it, too, can go right inside the Streetwalker.
I’ve done this all and been on the road for up to 6 weeks – living out of one bag, and my photography bag for my gear. It’s all about what you are going to do, where you’re going and the ability to leave what you really don’t need at home. In most instances, if you get stuck, you can buy things in other places – after all people do live there, yes? I like the system, as it frees me to concentrate on the travelling, to chat with locals and yet still come back with memorable images that represent what we saw. The ability to move lightly without being encumbered is a great liberator and allows you to go all kinds of places and see things that might not be possible if you were really loaded down with every lens you own. After all, travelling is about the trip. Bon Voyage!