There is an inherent challenge you face when you’re a photographer on vacation. You want (and everyone expects) Nat Geo worthy, perfect images that tell the story of your trip to far away lands. It sounds cheesy but there is an internal struggle to either get fantastically jaw-dropping images or enjoy your trip by only shooting what’s in front of you. And now that we’re traveling the world with a toddler, it’s a different ballgame altogether. Waiting for the lighting to be just right, lugging lots of equipment, planning your shot list all makes your vacation…well, not a vacation at all. It becomes work, it pulls you away from your family, defeating the purpose all together.
Over the years I have learned to limit my equipment in order to truly enjoy my time away from the office. However it’s impractical to say “I’m only going to shoot from the hip, and let the chips fall where they may.” So in addition to limiting my equipment, I also tell my wife that I’m going to geek out in 2-3 locations on our trip, and beyond that, the shots I get, are the shots I get. No waiting for light or holding up the program.
So what do I bring? Now that technology has advanced so much I’m able to get all the shots I need with these three items:
1. Canon 1 DX This is my main still (and sometimes handheld video rig). In my years of travel I’ve found that my 24-70 2.8 lens mounted to this body will get me just about everything I need. In fact, there are only a handful of cases where I wish I had a longer or wider lens. I also keep a shutter boss wireless remote for this set up so when we want to get family shots (seen above), I can set up the tripod, clip in and get the shots I want.
2. DJI OSMO. This handy dandy rig is a brushless gimbal stabilized 4K camera that let’s me capture smooth, non jerky footage without having to lug around (and balance) my DJI Ronin. Suffice it to say that my wife would die of embarrassment and frustration if I did. So with all that said. I keep this small rig in my bag so at a moments notice, I can power it up and be shooting in under 15 seconds.
3 DJI Mavic. Ahhhhh drones. I thought I got out of the drone game until our Project Manager, Cory DePasquale turned me on to this baby. It’s completely revolutionized shooting with drones while traveling. Remember the aforementioned embarrassment and frustration in the previous paragraph? Well I did manage to inflict some of that on my poor wife when we travelled to Iceland the first time in 2014. I had to lug my bulky, glitchy, unreliable DJI Phantom 1 around. It took forever to set up, the batteries sucked, and the monitor was atrocious. Nowadays the Mavic folds down to about the size of an iPad mini. In less than a minute, you can unfold the arms, sync your phone as the monitor and control center, take off with the push of a button, and be shooting buttery 4K footage or 12 MP stills like you read about.
Those three things all fit in a small camera bag and I can bring them anywhere. That brings me to the trip we just took to Iceland last week that yielded the images for this post. I was able to use these three items seamlessly together to create the following piece. All while still being present and enjoying my time off. At the end of the day, whether you’re a photographer or not, you can’t switch off the fact that you want to get amazing shots and footage, but you can control when, where, how and with what you do it. All minimizing impact on your travel companions.