Whether you’re a seasoned pro who’s out shooting assignments in the field every day or a weekend enthusiast who likes to make outdoor images for pure enjoyment, being a good outdoor, adventure and travel photographer means always being prepared.
I’m not talking about always having your camera with you so that you don’t miss the shot- you already know to do that. Right?!?
When I say prepared, I mean prepared for adventure. You know, those great, unexpected, sometimes dangerous experiences that often have you stumbling back to the trailhead, or the hotel long after dark when you’re hungry, tired, wet, cold because you suddenly came across some great photo opportunity and the light was just getting good on that temple or mountain… You know what adventure means. That’s part of what makes photography so much fun.
Chances are, you carry enough camera gear in your bag to get you through just about any photographic situation, but what about any adventurous situation during or after the shoot?
Here six simple things that I ALWAYS carry with me in my camera bag. They’re the things that helps me stay stay much more comfortable out there when I’m out there having adventures with my camera. Staying comfortable will allow you to stay in a much better mood, not to mention warm, dry and fed, all of which will allow you to have more energy and be more creative. Depending on what kind of photography you do, you should think about carrying some of this stuff as well; maybe you already do.
No matter where I go, I’ve always got my ten-year old Patagonia Velocity windbreaker with me. It’s small enough to be stuffed into the outer pocked of my camera bag or clipped to the outside. (It folds up into it’s own pocket.) It shields wind and light rain and keeps me comfortable when the sun goes down after the last light has faded from my subject. If it’s especially cool, I’ll even throw in a Capeline shirt as well to layer underneath. You should never be without the proper clothing in the outdoors.
2. Clif Bars®
The other thing you should NEVER be without in the outdoors is some extra food. I always throw a couple of Clif Bars into my bag as well. That way, I know I’ll be able to make it back to the car after that exciting bout of adventure photography. Even if your shooting doesn’t require a huge amount of exertion, you’re still expending valuable mental energy being creative. Your brain actually uses 15% of your body’s cardiac output, 20% of its total body oxygen consumption, and 25% of its total body glucose utilization. You’ll need some of that energy for the hike back.
3. ZipLoc® Bags
Another essential outdoor and travel photography item, the ZipLoc® bag. Useful in so many situations, for sorting gear and keeping it dry. We used to carry all our film in them while traveling. I always have at least one or two of the gallon sized bags with me and sometimes a spare quart size bag that remains after I’ve downed my PB&J. You never know when they might come in handy, so it’s always good to carry a few.
Or small flashlight. It only takes forgetting it once. Enough said.
I’m a climber, so I’ve got hundreds of these things kicking around the house. They’re without a doubt, one of the greatest inventions ever. Clip and go. I’ve got at least a couple of them attached to every pack I own. Invaluable little things. Get some.
6. Cotton Bandana
Keeps the sweat out of the eyes, the dust out of your nose and mouth, the sun off your neck, and the dirt, water and mist off of your lens. Plus, they’re great for wrapping wounds. I often find myself in the outdoors with not a stitch of cotton clothing on, and I don’t always carry proper lens cloths with me. Ever tried wiping rain off of your lens with a polypro shirt? Doesn’t work very well, does it? A good old fashioned cotton bandana is universally useful item. Cowboys wear them, and they’re outside all the time, they must be on to something.
Depending on the type of shoot or the weather, I may take a few more things with me, but these six items pretty much get me by in most situations. Think about what kind of photography situations you often find yourself in and consider what you’d need in order to stay comfortable and/or safe.
Now, before you forget, go throw those essential items in your own bag so that you’ll have them with you the next time you go out shooting and adventuring.
Also, check out the 6 photography specific accessories that I usually have with me no matter where I am. These are essential items I rely on aside from the pro camera and lens hardware.