Travel is essential for both amateur and professional photographers alike, but it can be incredibly risky when expensive camera gear is involved. Equipment could easily get stolen or damaged during transit. Whether you’re driving to your next client’s venue or flying out for a shoot, here are some practical tips to keep your photography gear safe and in good condition.
Don’t use a camera bag
A camera bag will instantly give away the fact that you’re a photographer carrying pricey equipment. A trekking or campaign backpack offers just as much storage space and protection as a regular camera bag but is usually cheaper and more comfortable to use. You can also use discreet boxes secured with kraft tape or wheeled luggage. Just be sure to pack it with big bubble wrap rolls and inserts so your gear doesn’t move around.
Only take what you need
Assess the risks of the location you’re traveling to and study the nature and requirements of your photoshoot, then only take what you need given both of these conditions. Don’t carry any extraneous equipment, and save your more expensive gear for when you don’t have to travel far for a shoot, unless you absolutely need to use it.
Purchase equipment insurance
Sometimes, you just can’t prevent the worst from happening to your gear, despite taking all the necessary precautions. The best way to protect yourself from loss, damage, or theft is to purchase good equipment insurance. Take note, though, that this kind of insurance doesn’t cover the data in your memory cards, so immediately back them up when you can or keep them on your person when not in use.
Don’t check in your camera gear
Never check in your camera gear at the airport. There’s no telling happens to your baggage when you check it in, so it’s best to keep fragile objects out of it when flying. There’s no need to worry about running your equipment through x-ray scanners since they don’t have any effect on memory cards or digital SLRs. If you’re travelling with an analog camera and some film though, you may want to request it to be hand-searched instead.
Take your equipment apart
Make sure to take all the pieces of your camera apart before packing it. Leaving your lens or filters on will make your camera more susceptible to damage. When packing it away, ensure that you leave ample space between each piece, so they don’t damage each other. Put a buffer between the pieces using inserts or big bubble wrap rolls.
Keep a list of your gear and serial numbers
Write down a comprehensive list of all the gear you’ll be taking with you and their corresponding serial numbers. Keep this list with you at all times. For added security, you can also take pictures of each piece of equipment. You can show these to the police in case your gear gets stolen, and it’ll make it much easier for them to track everything down. Your insurance company might also need these “before” photos of your gear as a visual reference when assessing the situation in case anything gets damaged.
Both amateur and professional photographers know the pain of traveling with their gear. These handy tips will make your trips a little more bearable.