the camera equipment i pack when i'm going to the other side of the planet


After yesterday's panic attack, I decided that the first thing that I needed to do is lay out all the equipment that I'm going to have to take with me to Ethiopia.  I suspected that once I had a handle on the equipment, I would feel far more confident that I was ready for this gig.  And I am.  I mean, I'm a little worried that I might not have the upper body strength to carry it all, but.. yeah, I am.

So in the interest of oversharing, I thought I'd publish the list of the photography equipment I'm planning to take with me.  Keep in mind that I don't take nearly this much stuff if I'm going on vacation -- this is work, and all of these things are for taking photographs for others, rather than for myself.  Still, I thought it might be helpful for those of you who might be going on long photo treks of your own:  perhaps there are some items here that you'd want to take that you forgot about including; also, selfishly, perhaps you'll notice that I'm missing something that you never leave home without.  If that's the case, I'd love if you'd share your thoughts in the comments below.

Without further ado:

things i already own that i'm taking with me (shown in the image above)

1.  Kipling backpack -- Last year when I went to Kenya, I took a bonafide camera bag (a cross-body one) and it was heavy and uncomfortable. I vowed then that if I ever did a photo trek like that again, I would make sure that I had a backpack that would more evenly distribute the weight on my body.  Unfortunately, this year I wasn't on the ball enough to snag one of the brand new Epiphanie backpacks (how cute are they?), but I remembered that I had my old Kipling backpack. I love this bag because it literally weighs next to nothing, and is incredibly durable.  Also? It carries way more than it looks like it would. So it gets to go with me on this trip.

2.  ONA camera bag insert -- Someone turned me on to these inserts at a conference earlier this year, and I immediately bought one.  It's padded and roomy, but honestly, it's way too big to put in a normal everyday bag. It's perfect, however, for the Kipling.

3.  Nikon D4 camera body -- My new camera, with high definition video capability.  I love this camera. This trip is the first one where I'll be seriously putting it through its paces. 

4.  Nikon D300 camera body -- Old faithful, the one that went with me to Kenya.  I found it helpful to have two camera bodies, each with a different lens on it, so that I don't have to worry about switching lenses (and thus getting them and the camera bodies dirty) while out in the field.

5.  Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens -- Perfect lens for getting close-up shots of lions when you don't want to necessarily get close-up to a lion.

6.  Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens -- Because I never go anywhere without my nifty fifty.

7.  Various camera lens cozies (is that what they're called? Lens cozies? I think I just made that up).

8.  A universal power adapter -- Marcus bought me this one from the shop at his job. But there's also this one on Amazon for seriously cheap. I may have to buy another on principle.

9.  Memory card holder with extra memory cards

10.  Charger for my D4.

11. Nikon Speedlight flash.  At some point, I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to use it.

12.  Business card holder with business cards.

13.  Laptop -- It's an 11" Macbook Air.  Frank opinion:  light and pretty, but honestly, the screen is just a little too small for processing photos.  Next time I'm going to go bigger.

14.  Journal and pens.

15.  Portable reflector -- Definitely not something that I normally carry around, but one I anticipate will come in handy.

16.  My Gorillapod -- Again, not something I normally carry around, but you never know.

Various wires and stuff.

things i already own that i'm taking with me, but didn't include in the photograph, above

•  My D300 charger.  When I took the photograph, I couldn't find it, and I was panicking.  I've since found it.  Thank heavens.

•   My iPhone4.  I was using it to take the photo, above.

•  a spare battery for the D300.  I have one around here somewhere ...

things that i'm going to borrow or rent

•  A Nikon 17-55mm 2.8 lens -- I had a Tamron wide-angle zoom, but it broke earlier this year.  When we went to Paris, I wanted to take a wide-angle with me, so I found this awesome place, Photo Rental Source, that rents camera lenses for really reasonable prices. It worked a treat so, needless to say, I'm doing it again. 

And I'm borrowing the following from ONE:

•  HDV Cage Kit -- for turning the D4 into a full-on video camera

•  Vidpro LED Light Kit -- for videoing interviews (and portraits, in a pinch)

•  Nikon ME1 Stereo Microphone -- for videoing interviews

things i still need to buy

•  a few more memory cards (because I'll need a few in my hip pocket)

•  a spare battery for the D4

•  a spare battery for the D300, if I can't find the one I own ... it's around here somewhere ...

•  a monopod -- for keeping the camera steady when I video (thanks for the tip, Camille!)  I'm thinking of getting this one -- any recommendations otherwise?

•  a portable external hard drive -- I was thinking of getting this one, but the reviews are scaring me a bit.  Any other suggestions?

I think that's everything.  As you can see, I'm apparently not going to have any room for clothes, which is a bit concerning, but I'll figure something out.  (Maybe I'll just pack lots of scarves.  And you know, swathe myself in scarves.  Call it a "photograper's scarf look."  No?)

Have I forgotten anything?

Song:  Paparazzi, the acoustic version, by Lady Gaga. I couldn't find this version available for sale anywhere, which is a pity, because girlfriend's got skills.


On October 4th, I'll be traveling to Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.  ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that help eliminate poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way.  During that week, I'll be supporting 10 bloggers by capturing images that tell the story of how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia. 

If you're moved by anything you read or see here, on the ONE blog or any of the ONEMoms' blogs and you'd like to help, please consider adding your voice, and join ONE by simply filling out the surprisingly short form in my sidebar on the right, at the very top.  Your information will remain confidential, I promise.  And if you're already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers.

That's all there is to it.  Because ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.