There is often a common misunderstanding about the appearance of photographers to other individuals that have become very popular and is sometimes used to determine if a photographer is a professional or not. This common misunderstanding is that a photographer should have a big backpack on their back along with two cameras strapped to their side and pretty much look like they’re about to go on a hike. People usually think that the more equipment you have is the more professional you are and not acknowledge the fact that it’s not the equipment that makes the photographer. For example, you can have two separate photographers with the same equipment or with one having less than the other and get two separate results as they both use the equipment they have very different. In this article, I will be sharing some of the simple benefits of traveling with less gear as a photographer. In many previous articles, I have stated that less can always be more depending on the type of photographer or creative you are and here are some useful reasons why.
One of the most important benefits of limiting the amount of gear you carry around as a photographer is a fact that you lessen the weight on your back. Traveling around with a lot of gear can be very stressful not only on your back but on your shoulder as well. Constantly carrying around these heavy loads can sometimes have long term effect as well on your physical health and in some cases will require the help of pain medication or even resorting to getting massages on a periodical basis.
In this day and age, there are some bags that are engineered for the photographer who likes to travel heavy or need to travel with a lot of equipment. These bags work to evenly distribute weight on each should and your back while providing comfort on the move. However, this comfort will only last for so long and at some point, you will become tired or exhausted. Packing light or carrying less gear will not only help lessen the strain on your back and shoulders but also increase your mobility and extend your range of travel if walking.
In addition, to have less weight on your back, there is also the benefit of having less of bulk as well. Obviously traveling with a lot of gear in your bag means that your bag will consist of a lot of things that vary inside and weight. Unless organized properly, all of these things can gradually form a bulk which can be annoying in the field and when traveling. I don’t know about you but when I want to find something, I like to find it quickly and not have to skim through a series of 50 different things to find what I want. Carrying less gear will eliminate this problem and give you access to the things you need very quickly and easily.
In addition to having a bulk within the camera bag, there is also the issue of the bag itself being a bulk on your back as well cause hindrance to certain positions when shooting. For example, there will be moments where you have to fit in very questionable or tight spaces just to get your shot or shots and having this bulk on your back can be a problem. This bulk can not only be a problem for you but also others around you as well. Having been a victim of this, you are sometimes not even aware of the effects your camera bag is having on others as it may bounce them or even be a nuisance. Less gear will eliminate the issues of having a bulk on your back and by extension help others as well.
One of the creative benefits of packing less gear is that it has the potential to force you out of your comfort zone and encourages you to try new things that you probably wouldn’t have considered before. Not having some of the gear to make your life easier is sometimes very good. As photographers, we can tend to get a bit too complacent or dependent on some of our equipment. Even though they do serve their purpose, you actually sometimes don’t even need them. One of the things I’ve learned through leaving some of my gear at home, namely a few of my lenses is how to compose and recompose my shots effectively.
There are many times I got used to having my 50mm or my 85mm on me that I was so caught up into capturing subjects very up close and personal until I intentionally didn’t pack those lenses and traveled with just my 24mm f/2.8. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a challenge to capture nothing but wide angle shots when I was so used to my other lenses but nonetheless it taught me a valuable lesson. I eventually learned that sometimes the bigger picture matters and sometimes if you’re too close to your subject you can sometimes forget to appreciate what’s behind or around it as well.
I hope this article has inspired you to take a look in your camera bag and take out a few things just to see how much these benefits can help. It’s always a pleasure sharing these simple but useful tips with you and I look forward to seeing you again.