How Pro Photographers Pack for Summer Adventures

Chris Burkard, Corey Rich, and Jimmy Chin share their trade secrets on capturing great photos, plus the gear they won’t leave home without

Jun 17, 2015
Outside Magazine
How Pro Photographers Pack for Summer Adventures

Corey Rich suggests traveling (or hanging) with a quiver of at least two good lenses: a 16-35 mm and a 70-200 mm.    Photo: Corey Rich

It’s finally time for that summer adventure you’ve been dreaming about all year. But just throwing your camera in the car isn’t enough to create envy-inspiring photographs. We caught up with three of our favorite outdoor photographers for tips on what you need to capture the images that will ignite your memories long after the season ends.

Corey Rich

  Photo: Corey Rich

What’s Always on the Packing List
When you talk about running, all you need are shoes. Photography is the same way. You need a camera and a love of capturing the world around you. You also definitely need a bag that fits what you are doing so you can have it with you. If you have the camera and you don’t have the bag, you are more likely to leave the camera behind. Then, to think beyond the camera, if you are super-hot, thirsty, cold, or getting sunburned, it doesn’t matter how good the shot is—you are going to eff it up because you are miserable. So if you are going to wild environments, watch out for your personal needs.

What Every Photographer Needs
If I could only bring two lenses with me, I’d bring a 16-35 mm and a 70-200 mm. With two good lenses, you have enormous potential. If there were a third lens, it would be a 50 mm lens. It’s really compact and can shoot well in low light. Try not to use a tripod unless you really have to, because it slows you down.

What’s Worth the Splurge
That quiver of lenses allows you to do some stuff like vary the focal length. If you want to up your game in outdoor-adventure photography and you are at the enthusiast level, once you have the bag and the camera, the lenses are the next step. Don’t buy cheap knockoff lenses. Buy the lenses engineered for your camera. You don’t buy a Porsche and then go buy the cheapest tires at Walmart.

Jimmy Chin

  Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Chin

What’s Always on the Packing List
I use a lot of F-Stop gear to carry my equipment, like the ICUs and the Tilopa backpack. They’re designed by outdoor photographers and work incredibly well in the field. I think a lightweight carbon-fiber tripod is nice to have in the bag, as well as some small light panels for light painting, lighting up tents, and providing a little fill. I always have a headlamp on me since I’m often wrapping shoots after dark. I also use a variety of Goal Zero solar setups and batteries for charging camera batteries and my laptop on location.

What Every Photographer Needs
A good shoulder camera-carrying case. I use the F-Stop Navin.

What’s Worth the Splurge
Good glass. Nice prime lenses can really make a difference, not only in resolution quality but also for shooting backlit images and low-light conditions. I carry the Canon 24 mm f/1.4, Canon 35 mm f/1.4, and Canon 50 mm f/1.2. For a high-quality zoom lens, I carry the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8.

Chris Burkard

  Photo: Chris Burkard

What’s Always on the Packing List
I like to travel light and efficiently. That’s what made me choose mirrorless cameras. They are small and light and always fit into a carry-on bag or in the car. My cellphone is another one that never leaves my side. It’s another way to post photos and share images, but also a great source for editing photographs and doing other things like that. I’ve always got an Olloclip on me as well. That’s just another awesome way to document the world around me. I tend to try to get as off the grid as I possibly can, so I bring some sort of solar charger with me, and that helps me get farther out there. I always have a tent with me. If I get a chance to sleep outside, I take it. The best photos aren’t the ones taken near the hotel room. It’s also about keeping your gear safe and clean. I always laugh when I see people with those tiny little lens cloths. I buy those big microfiber towels you use to clean yourself when camping; I cut them into squares and keep one on me at all times.

What Every Photographer Needs
Every photographer should have three things. One is a good, fast, wide-angle lens. I love a 24 mm lens with an aperture range down close to f/2. That’s the most versatile lens ever. Then you need a polarizer and a graduated neutral-density filter to help control light and color intake into your lens. I never want to be out in nature without a 24 mm lens, a polarizer, and a graduated neutral-density filter. Oh, and a tripod.

What’s Worth the Splurge
Good, fast lenses. A 24 mm prime is probably one of my favorite things I have on me. I know I can shoot night exposures and landscapes. A good lens will change your photography.

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