Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What goes in the bag? Packing for a commercial shoot.

I'm leaving this morning for Switzerland, where I will be on a 5-day brochure shoot for a luxury holiday company. As I'm spending today testing and packing all the gear, I thought I would share with you how I prepare and pack for a shoot like this.

First up is to create a pack list. I have a template that I use for this that basically covers all the kit I own, and then I simply strike off items that I know I won't need and add any gear I will be renting, until I have a customised pack list for the shoot.

As I pack the gear I tick off the list. This way it makes it (almost!) impossible to forget something. There's nothing worse than arriving on location and finding you forgot to bring a battery charger or some other vital bit of kit.

For my commercial shoots I often rent additional lighting gear. For this shoot I've rented two Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kits - I've mentioned them here before but they are essentially very lightweight battery flash units. Given that we will have to be skiing with the gear to get to several of the locations, small and light weight are very important.

The packs and heads are so small that a couple of them will easily for within a mid-size photo backpack, and at 400ws they punch out a lot more light that hotshoe flashes. This is the first time I've used them on a real shoot, so I'll be writing a review of them when I get back.

I'll then be taking my usual gear - 2 Canon 5D mark II bodies, a set of L-series zooms,  some backup Speedlites and Pocket Wizard radio triggers, a tripod and some light weight light stands. For most of the shots we'll be shooting to a laptop using the WFT-E4 wireless transmitter, so I'll also be packing the MacBook Pro, a couple of Lacie Rugged external hard drives, and a Sandisk Firewire 800 card reader.

Add on the usual bits and pieces such as sensor cleaning kit, various power cables and adapters etc, and even for a relatively straight forward shoot such as this you end up with quite a lot of kit.

So how will we be packing it? I'm a big fan of rolling bags, and often use the Lowepro Roller. But given that we will be skiing with our gear, it has to fit in backpacks. In this case we'll be taking a Lowepro Photo Trekker and a Dakine Sequence. The Photo Trekker will take all the lighting gear and will be carried by my assistant, while the Sequence will take all the camera gear and will be carried by me. Additional kit such as light stands will go in a separate bag. 

So here it all is, ready to go:


  1. Great! Have a lot of fun and I hope we will see your pictures when you'll be back.

    See you

  2. Have fun buddy, we need to catch up soon.

  3. Nice kit! I hope we will see your pictures when you'll be back.

  4. would love to hear thoughts on the quadras now you have given them some use. looking into getting one myself soon.

  5. Hi Dan - I'll have some thought on the Quadras up later this week - stay tuned!