One of the most difficult aspects of practicing photography, for many photographers at some point or another, is carrying all that damn gear. “Traditional” (e.g. lensed) photographers probably have it the worst, as anyone who’s lugged a few constant aperture zoom lenses or a full large format rig can attest. While we pinholers get a break by not having to carry glass, we still have our challenges getting our kit to the photo destination.
“The best camera is the one you have with you,” as the saying goes. Indeed, nothing sucks like walking by the perfect shot without your trusty pinhole at the ready. Therefore, a key to this beloved hobby of ours is keeping a camera with you as often as possible. For many of us, that means commuting to/from work, joining friends on the evenings or weekends, shopping, parks, etc.
So for today’s article, I want to share my Getaround setup in the hopes of spreading ideas to help you shoot more. As always, if you see something that could be improved? Share it in the comments and help all of us out as well.
First – here’s a picture of my Getaround:
And here it is, “exploded”:
Let’s go through it piece by piece.
I always carry at least 2 cameras, sometimes 3 or 4. Why? First off, so that I can have a color and a black and white option. At a minimum, I want that. Pictured here are my Pinholga (converted by yours truly) and my Zero Image 6×9. I tape the current film label to the back of my cameras so that I can remember which is loaded with what. Not pictured here, but often in my pack, is my Zero Image 4×5. These 3 cameras give me 5 configurations: 6×6, 6×9, and 4×5 (25mm, 50mm, & 75mm focal lengths). On particularly ambitious days, I’ll add in my Polaroid. That’s a lot of options!
Notice that I don’t use a traditional camera backpack, and that’s entirely on purpose. I have two reasons for this. First, I wanted something that didn’t scream “cameras!” but was fully featured including a laptop sleeve. Second, the backpacker and urban market has a lot more options that have better suspensions than normal camera bags. Osprey is my brand of choice and for good reason – they are well renowned for their suspension. When I lived in Seattle, I could carry this bag, loaded with 25 pounds of camera and laptop gear, for hours and still be fine. That’s a damn good suspension system.
Inside my normal backpack I have a camera bag insert. This is basically a camera bag padding system that you can stuff into any backpack. They come in a handful of shapes and sizes and will keep your gear protected in your backpack. This was key to my feeling comfy with a non-padded backpack.
The backpack and camera bag insert are very key to my Getaround. By having something that I can take everywhere, I can easily have plenty of cameras with me at all times.
Yes, I always carry two tripods with me. What you see here are my Slik mini tripod with ballhead and the infamous Gorillapod. Why these two? First, their weight is so minuscule, there’s hardly a penalty for carrying a second one. Second, while the Gorillapod is invaluable when you need to mount on something elevated like a fence rail, it’s a complete pain in the ass when you just want to be on a flat surface and level the camera. In addition, the Gorillapod isn’t quite as stable as a normal tripod, so it’s definitely reserved for those shots that cannot be done any other way.
Not shown here is my full size tripod, which I carry when I anticipate having the need for that much flexibility. See the loop on the bottom center of the backpack? That loop, plus a tie down, allow me to mount the tripod in the centerline of the backpack. This allows for a much easier carry to your shooting location, so when you get there you still have the wherewithal to compose your shot.
A regular daypack is also superior for just carrying…stuff. We all have the normal needs for a photo trek, so having flexible room for it is a big payoff. Some additional photo related things I carry with me are a pocket level for my 4×5, extra film of course, and my trusty locking cable release.
What do you carry?
I wanna hear it in the comments!