Understanding Photographer Travel for Marketing
I travel a lot for my photography and videography business clients. Whether it's my personal vehicle, train or plane, most of my work is done on location. While I used to have a brick and mortar studio, I found that most of the time I wasn't working in it. So, the expense of it just didn't seem to make sense. I now have a small home studio for photographing and filming some products for clients, while renting space from a few local studios when necessary for larger shoots.
But most of today I wanted to tell you what goes into most of my travel for shoots and how I come up with which gear I'm going to need. Because, believe me, I have more gear than I can handle to travel to most of my shoots with.
That brings me to my first topic of this post which is knowing as much as you can for the shoot before you even start to charge batteries for your camera. I ask a lot of questions of my clients prior to the shoot. Most of which are giving me knowledge what the shoot will entail and how I will go about capturing what is necessary for that client. Is it just still photos, is it just video or is it a mix of both. Photo and video are two very different things, even though large parts of them can be captured on the same equipment. They require a lot of different equipment to get to that point. For instance, I can photograph still with stobe lighting, which creates quick powerful bursts of light, allowing me to shoot at high depths of field or in brighter conditions, such as outside. Video work requires lights that are on at all times and typically aren't nearly as bright. Tungsten and LED lights are pretty common, and while still photography can utilize them, they just are not bright enough to hand hold higher aperture settings, unless you use a tripod. While I'm on to tripods, video work requires a tripod that is steady but moves and/or some type of gimbal to smoothly capture moving scenes.
So, you can see just with lighting and tripods alone, things are starting to seem very different. Additionally, video requires some type of audio recording device, for the most part. Sometimes you are just tasked with filming B-roll, which is extra clips that won't have audio used and tends to hide the main voice behind the scene or when music is just playing overtop of rolling clips. But if you are recording someone speaking, you have mics you put on a stationary boom, which can also be held be a crew member, or lav mics, which are tucked into the subjects clothing allowing them the freedom to walk and talk during the scene. They each require different equipment to input into the camera or a recorder for syncing in post later on.
Still photography can be done, in a general sense, with a lot less gear. No need for audio recording, and while an occasional tripod is necessary, especially in studio work, it can be done without one for the most part.
How does all of this info inform what I travel with? Well, if I'm traveling locally, I get away with brining more gear, especially if I think there may be a surprise here and there. I always like to be prepared and bring backup gear if possible. Local work typically allows me to bring back up cameras and lenses along with more lights than I would probably need. Again, I like to play it safe. When I'm filming video work, I tend to bring both sets of audio equipment for booming a mic and lavs. If I'm going on a train or a plane, I try to really bring the bare bones of what is required. So, I need to have a very good understanding of what will be involved in every shot. If someone tells me we are filming b-roll for a YouTube video and add in music later on, I'm more than likely not going to bring my audio equipment at all. I won't bring tripods, studio lighting or travel stobes, and probably won't even bring video lights, depending on the client and what we are filming. I also have to consider how many bags I'm able to physically move on my own, how much they weigh for airlines or if I'm going to have to hire an assistant and then pay for their travel as well for the trip.
Additionally, there is usually an option to rent equipment wherever I'm traveling to as well. I have done that for several clients and I have the resources to find and acquire equipment on location when necessary. It doesn't add a whole lot to the cost usually, but just know that if specific equipment is required, that it might bring up the budget a bit.
If I'm photographing a building for an architect, I will typically ask how big the space is and if I can view it ahead of time. This allows me to know if I need to bring a super wide lens or something more standard for tight, more architectural shots. I also need to know where I'm going to be so I can check with local airports and see if I will be cleared in the airspace to fly my drone for aerial photos.
Thinking about everything surrounding the specific shoot I will be on, the experience I have gained from working in this field for 22 years and just thinking outside the box for "what ifs" has really given me a way of thinking about the details and the technical aspects that go into everything I capture before I ever set foot on set.
If you have any questions about your shoot including travel pricing, how long a shoot might take, what might go into your specific shoot or setting up a shoot with me, please don't hesitate to reach out through our contact page.