Useful Photography Tip #101: Don’t Overpack Photo Gear for a Trip

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Holdfast camera bag with fur review (9 of 9)ISO 2001-500 sec at f - 2.8

Packing for any trip is a trip in itself. Clothing aside, figuring out how much gear to bring can often be the most challenging because it factors into your carry on. We’re sure you know, but it’s worth mentioning that gear (read: cameras and lenses) is not something you’d want to leave in your checked luggage, and keep in mind that some airlines have downsized carryon limits. So, with your carry on bag, how much gear are you going to pack?

This largely depends on the how long the trip is and what the purpose is. If it’s for a shoot, then you’ll be more inclined to bring most, if not all, of your gear, and the only thing we could really suggest is finding an appropriate bag that won’t wreak too much havoc on your back.

So, say you’ve got a two week vacation coming up, and while your suitcase is mostly ready to go, you still need to figure out your carry on. Say you own two camera bodies and about four lenses: two primes and two zooms. Packing all of that and carrying it would be a chiropractic nightmare, and once you get there, you’ll have to figure out how much of that gear to take with you on any given day.

That’s too much of a hassle, and we strongly caution against overpacking when it comes to gear. Keep it to a camera body and lens or two, at most. Practically speaking, this’ll keep the load on your bag lighter than a full kit would be, and it’ll give you more space to focus on the place you’re visiting. We’d even advocate working within a fixed focal length because it’ll keep your mind off the gear even more, and if you need to zoom in, just walk forward.

By not having all of your gear, you can both save yourself from some awful back pain and focus on all of the images around you, so to speak. And this isn’t an anti-tourist post, but we’d rather not be the fellow who’s always got a bag full of gear and super telephoto on his camera for too long out of the day.

Keep it simple and straightforward, and your images will benefit. Limiting yourself is a great way to inspire creativity because you find ways to work within and around the limitations. With one camera and one lens, you may find ways to make images you wouldn’t normally make had you brought the other lens(es).

And by keeping your bag light, you’ll be able to enjoy the city more.