Photography 101: What would be in my ‘walking kit’ if I had one

The other day I posted an entry in this blog, “How to select gear for a remote shoot” which got a lot of feedback and good comments.

One reader though asked a good question; she asked, “So what’s in your walking kit?”  I gave her a two-word answer, “Walking kit?”

She must not have understood the question, because she replied, “Yes… What do you include in your bag when your walking… The actual gear…”

When I replied with my answer, “Walking kit?” She must’ve thought I had lost my mind as it appeared I don’t know what a walking kit is.  Actually, I do know.  I just never carry one.

So my two-word answer was accurate, it just could’ve been more accurate if I had’ve asked, “What walking kit?”

I don’t have a ‘walking kit’ as such.  The gear I carry with me day in and day out is the gear I travel with as well as my ‘walking kit’.  The reasons are many, but I’ll try to be succinct.

First, 95% of the time I don’t have anywhere secure to store unused gear; so it goes with me…everywhere.  When you don’t have somewhere safe to lock up that sexy telephoto lens you either carry it with you or you don’t buy one; I choose not to buy one.  The one I use I picked up on Craigslist for $125 and I don’t have to worry about it getting banged around in a protest or falling off a cliff on The Snake River.

Second, with photo shoots usually coming at me fast and furious I might find myself shooting a photo essay on Apollo 11 in the Air and Space Museum only to have to go cross town with a moments notice to capture the latest ‘talking head’ on the Capitol steps.  Two entirely different stories that require two different lenses and happen in two different shooting environments.

This problem is exacerbated because of my travels.  A given week might find me kayaking down the Colorado River, being embedded with the vigilantes in the Sonorran Desert and photographing at Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library.

You can see the gear I carry with me in the list following this blog.  If more photographers would learn the lesson that it’s not the camera, but the person behind the camera then more shooters would carry less gear – and they’d find their shoulder pain disappears.

If I had a “walking kit” I wouldn’t be able to make the rapid adjustments in shooting that I am normally required to make throughout a typical workday and workweek.

The rest of the time the gear is still with me because I only carry three lenses.  When you carry three lenses and one camera body, then you can tote everything with you and I guess that would be a “walking kit”.

So maybe I do have one afterall.

Canon D50 Body
Canon 75 – 300 mm
Canon 35mm “prime lens”
Canon 18-55 “kit lens”
Assorted batteries and rechargers
Canon Speedlite Flash
Remote Camera Control
Remote Flash Control

And I carry this in a Lowepro Fastback 300 gear bag that I can pick up with one hand without all the gear spilling out.

Jerry Nelson, a nationally recognized photojournalist travels the country  collecting stories and photographs of people working to make the state a better place through coalition building and grassroots organization.  If your group would like to talk to Jerry about doing a story of how you’re impacting America, visit his website where you will find contact information.

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