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Pro Photo Rental

Minimizing Your Equipment for On Location Shooting
By Zac Henderson

There’s no getting around the fact that photography is an equipment driven pursuit. Try as we might, we simply can’t blink our eyes, import an image from our brain, edit it, and put it on a wall to admire later…yet. Until that kind of tech comes along we’re stuck with (super cool) gear, aka physical objects that take up space. That can be a problem when you’re on the road or are trying to use as little equipment as possible. Obviously the kind of gear you really need is dependent on the images you’re trying to capture. You won’t need to bring a strobe and light stand when you’re shooting a traditional landscape. Still, every trip is an opportunity to reevaluate the gear you actually need. Below we’ve outlined some ways to streamline your kit and lighten the load.

Benefits to Minimal Gear

Less Stress

Having only the essentials in your bag has several benefits, not least of which is less stress. Particularly if you work alone, you don’t want to waste time keeping up with a billion accessories. Where did that adapter go? Did I leave the card reader back in the cable bag? Should I use gels here or not? Should go for the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II instead of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L II? I’m getting palpitations just typing this…

A Lighter Load

Having less equipment means a lighter camera bag. Sounds obvious, but its still an important consideration, particularly if you’ll be moving around a lot. Hiking with two unnecessary lenses when one will do could shave off some serious weight. Moving between locations in the city? Less gear means fewer bags to move in and out of vehicles and less to potentially leave behind.

Less Clutter On Set

For location shooting, being neat and tidy can go a long way towards better efficiency. No one wants to have talent tripping over cables or bags. Plus, if the location isn’t very big to begin with your cases might take up more space than you’d like. Also, the more equipment you have on site the more equipment you’ll have out of sight. Gear can be expensive, and certain small yet expensive pieces of gear have a tendency to grow legs and walk away. Leaving necessary gear like that at home can help keep them in your repertoire for when you really need them.

Shorter Set Up and Tear Down

Obvious, yet no less beneficial.

Easier Travel

Baggage handlers aren’t known for their gentle nature. If you can pack your delicate, expensive gear into a carry-on bag and your tripods, stands, and other less expensive gear in a larger checked bag, your air travel experience will surely be more enjoyable, particularly when you don’t hear glass rattling in your checked bags st the baggage carousel.

Steps Toward Being Minimal With Your Gear.

Ok, so we’ve established that bringing less gear can be a (really) good thing. How can you go about deciding what to bring and what to leave at home?

Start With Nothing, Then Build Up

If you assemble all the gear you have in one spot and then start removing stuff you don’t think you need, you’ll probably still be left with more kit than is necessary. Instead of starting with everything and carving away, start with nothing and then add. Just remember to stop with the essentials.

Opt for Smaller/Lighter Gear

For when you really need to trim down equipment, consider the size of two similar pieces of gear. I’m thinking DSLR vs Mirrorless here, but even more so for video, you might opt for a smaller body like the BlackMagic Picket Cinema 6k over a Canon C300 mkII. If you’re shooting an environmental portrait on location, a Profoto B1, Nikon Z7, and Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 will keep your kit manageable. Consider the features that are non-negotiable first, but once those are met, in a minimal setup size and weight should be the very next consideration.

The More Multifunction, the Better

If a single piece of equipment can take the role of multiple pieces of equipment, that’s definitely a pro. For example, one zoom like our Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 could take the place of multiple prime lenses. Recording sound in camera instead of to an external recorder can also remove redundancy.

As a rental house we’re happy to rent you anything and everything you want. As people who care about your experience as a photographer, we want to make sure you take everything you need. Sometimes those things overlap. Sometimes they don't. Need an opinion? Just ask us. 

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