Profoto Octabank hanging on a Pelican handle w/ a Superclamp

Here’s a good tip that I’ve been thinking might be useful…

Lots of times as location photographers we struggle with the balance of the gear we can travel with vs/ the gear we really need to shoot the photo.  Today’s travel landscape brings all sorts of new challenges that can really be a pain in the ass.

Years ago (pre 911,) all it took was your good old friend “uncle Andrew Jackson” in the palm of the right sky cap and all your bags made it trouble (and fee) free onto the airplane.  Now days, it’s $100+ for each bag while being even more nutty when traveling internationally.   Several times in the past 6 months I have not only had to pay an additional bag fee, but then have had to pay an overweight fee on top of it.  The client really doesn’t appreciate it when you add on $150 charge for your stand bag each way!

So the question is… What do you do?

All professionals like to appear as if we are fancy and have all the proper gear, but sometimes we have to chuck the style points in favor of real-world, pragmatic innovation.

In this vein, here are two quick examples of doing just this.

In the above photo, the problem was not the gear so much as the space.  The client wanted portraits on seamless so the subject could be silo’d.  Although we had our normal cameras, stands and strobes, we didnt have the space.  There was no other real place to shoot the image, and because the conference room table was just too damn heavy to move, we had no real place to put the light stand.

Since every case of ours carries at least one Superclamp, it was an easy fix.  Up went the handle on Pelican 1514 case, on went the clamp, and the light was hung in the center of the table.

In the photo below, the problem was not that of the lack space in the room, but the limited ability of stuff I could carry.

This was a European shoot with lots of travel.  Although most of the shoot was going to be daylight exterior which required only my camera case, there was a small portrait component which was going to need strobes and a bit of grip gear.

The budget was small on this job, and there was only room for myself (no assistant,)  and in order to keep a handle on the budget, I didnt want to have too many extra bags to check.

Normally on a shoot like this we would bring about 5 bags.  Camera case, computer bag, large stand bag, strobe case, and a personal bag.   But since I was going to be alone, there was no way I was going to hump all 5 bags around the countryside not to mention try to pass all those extra bag fees along to the client.

What I ended up doing was leaving the stand bag at home entirely.  The strobe case was stripped down to just one ProAcute 600b with 2 heads, gaff tape, black velvet, superclamp, pony clamps, soft box, and the tripod was strapped to the outside of my small personal bag.

When it came time for the portraits, I removed the Gitzo head, fitted a stud to the tripod, hung the profoto head on the top of the tripod, slung the profoto 600b to the underside of the tripod for ballast, found something to hang the velvet on for the background, found some sort of white for a fill (in this case there was an easel kicking around) and i was off to the races.

Profoto 600B as ballast

Definitely not pretty, but it saved the client a bunch of added travel expense while making it easier for me to get around with one less bag to carry.

If you wish to read more of the Photo Tip Series, click HERE.

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