The Art of Schlepping Gear

Today’s Post by Barry Staver

As I prepared for a location assignment, shooting a multi-day conference and taking portraits of attendees during their session breaks, a nasty flashback hit me. This gig was taking place in a downtown hotel/office building. In a ballroom on the 38th floor.

Some years back, Time magazine had assigned a shoot to me at this same downtown skyscraper. Security guards wouldn’t let me into the lobby then with my big two-wheeled cart loaded with duffle bags of gear. They kicked me out, forcing me back to the car, putting all the gear back in the trunk, driving to an alley entrance and unloading on a freight dock. All of the gear was left, unattended on the dock while I re-parked the car, hustled back, rang the buzzer so those same security guards would let me in thru the back door, and finally taking the freight elevator to the 38th floor.

Fast forward: Mirrorless cameras, speedlights instead of large studio strobes to the rescue! Not wanting that scenario to repeat at 6:00AM, I packed all of the smaller, lighter hardware (light stands, tripod, small posing stool, collapsible reflector) for this gig into one LL Bean wheeled duffle bag (sold as luggage-used for camera gear) and all of the camera gear plus flashes into one Joe Farace Reporter backpack. (Alas, no longer available—Joe) Yep, I packed two Panasonic Lumix GH-4’s with battery grips, four lenses, four of my new Yongnuo speedlights, plus accessories, iPad, etc. into the backpack.

This time around, with the backpack slung on my back, duffle bag pulled behind me, it was easy to blend in with the office working crowd and cruise thru the lobby unmolested.