So you booked that ever-sought-after destination wedding!!! Congrats! It is a lot of photographers' dream! How amazing is it to not only get to shoot a wedding, but get paid to travel and shoot?!
But now the big question....
How do you safely travel with your gear and also protect your clients images while traveling? You don't get to drive from your house to the wedding, and throw everything into your trunk, nor do you get to drive straight home after the wedding, and download your images.
Well, here is how WE travel with ours.
Tomorrow we head out to shoot an amazing wedding in Honolulu. We couldn't be any more excited then we are, but also every time we travel with our gear, we get nervous.
(photos taken with our cell phones)
We have our two carry-on rolling camera bags that holds the majority of our gear. (Yes, I know a lens cap was missing. I took the lens off of my camera and replaced it with the 50mm 1.2 as I was using the 16-35mm, to fit it into my camera bag to take the photo, and forgot to put the lens cap back on)
Between Rachel and I, we check 4 pieces of luggage. 2 of them have 4 lightstands, large diffuser panels, chargers for the AA eneloop batteries and other photography related items. The other 2 pieces of luggage are obviously personal items, like clothes and such.
The gear above may look like it is overkill, but I promise you it is not. We are paid to get the shots no matter what, even if we don't know the lighting situation we are going into. We also are paid to make sure that our clients' images get home safe.
Now imagine that you are boarding a plane and find out that they can not accommodate your rolling bag with all your camera gear. They are asking kindly for you to check your bag. First don't freak... because after this blog post you are prepared!
In my personal item that they allow you to carry on (usually a very large purse or backpack), I have my wallet, my ipad and other things necessary to travel on the plane. I also have a couple of tshirts. However, we also have either our Shoot Sac on us, or another bag of some kind stuffed into the bottom. Usually they are asking you to check your bag because there is not enough room for your suitcase in the overhead bin. (Reason #1 to check into your flight as early as you are allowed--to get a better boarding position and lower the risk).
I then quietly inform the flight attendant of what is inside my bag, and ask if there is any way they can make it work. If they say no, I then proceed to remove my 2nd bag or Shoot Sac, and start stuffing cameras and lenses in that bag. I will not let my gear go under the plane and out of my sight.
So I put as many lenses as I can in my Shoot Sac, and then the rest of the lenses or cameras and memory cards in my purse/backpack. I will stick a flash or two in my pockets if need be. I will then give them my nearly-empty bag.
I can then almost always find a spot for my backpack in the overhead bins.
I just refuse to let them take all that gear under the plane where it is out of my sight and control.
We have insurance on our gear (and also insurance on us as a business) through Package Choice, but by the time I land and realize that my gear was either broken, or stolen and I file a claim, I won't have my replacement gear before the wedding or shoot that I was hired to shoot. I try to take every single precaution necessary.
So what do we do to protect the images we shoot? Obviously we can't run home and back up immediately, and we need to run the gauntlet of packing and unpacking and airline travel between the wedding shoot and getting home to download. So, I bring my laptop and we each have external hard drives that are made for traveling (they have little hard cases they sit inside) and we download immediately to each of these each evening. (That way Rachel has a backup of Crystal's images and Crystal has a backup of Rachels images) (This external hard drive also sits in our carry on bag). We also bring a TON of memory. Over 260GB worth of cards. So we shoot to these cards and we do NOT reformat or erase ANY. Plus, we shoot Canon 5D Mark IIIs and we shoot to two cards, so there is a back up inside the camera, as well. So, we have at least 4 backups of every image. Two externals, the original cards, and the back-up cards that stay inside the cameras. We travel with these in separate bags. So we are as insured as possible against corruption of data, loss of images, etc.
And finally, we bring all of this so that we can easily tackle any situation possible. If something breaks, it's ok. We have multiple back-ups. If the situation is not what we anticipated, it's ok, we have as many options as possible to come up with a good answer. It might seem like overkill to some, but we're paid to capture this once-in-a-lifetime day, and we take it very very seriously, and we don't accept or offer any excuses for ourselves.
On top of all of our gear, we also bring a 2nd shooter. (Yes there are already two of us, but we shoot as a team, not 1st and 2nd shooter, so we bring a 2nd shooter to help out at most weddings, so we can team shoot. That will be explained in another post.)
Our seconds also come with their gear.