Photographer Bryan Gregson has been there and done that. Along the way, he has had enough experience to lead to a tremendous amount of wisdom for photographers. In a new article, Bryan details his top gadgets for the field.
ESSENTIAL NON-PHOTO GADGETS + CAMERA PACK
Let’s face it, not every shoot goes smoothly. Gear breaks and stuff happens. This is why it’s really important for me to use tough dependable gear. I can’t afford gear failure, and I also can’t bring a giant tackle box to the middle of the backcountry to fix any unforeseen issues that may arise.
When I’m traveling by foot and space in my pack is limited, I can’t allow myself to drag behind and miss the shot because my pack is 80 pounds. The gear I bring is taken into substantial consideration because weight and space are top priority.
There are a few gadgets that are always in my pack, regardless of the location. These are also items that are always being used (aside from the usual photography kits of camera bodies, lenses, clothes, flash, tripod, etc.).
This is a list of my top 5 non-photo gadgets found in my pack.
FIVE ESSENTIAL NON-PHOTO GADGETS IN MY CAMERA PACK
Buy a good one. Don’t skimp. Although for the most part it’s used as a utility knife for everything imaginable, you’ll still need to rely on a good blade, and the $15 dollar knife isn’t going to cut it. There isn’t a place I’ve traveled that I didn’t have my knife on my belt. And there isn’t a place that I haven’t needed it — even if it’s for spreading peanut butter and jelly. It’s way better than your finger, and your companions will thank you for it.
LifeStraw: Go Bottle
Water is heavy, and I don’t have room for eight bottles (and they’re not environmentally responsible). I could use a bladder, but if it breaks then water will cover my camera gear, and again, water is heavy. I could do what I did years ago and drink those awful tablets or attempt to lug around a purifier, but that’s unrealistic. But there is an easy solution. I am lucky that my job is on water. I carry a reusable water bottle that contains a purifier. It’s light, and I can refill at any time of the day. The LifeStraw keeps weight to a minimum and keeps me hydrated, and that allows me to keep my energy level high. The bonus is drinking the cold water of the nature’s streams on a hot summer days. Warm bottled water anyone? No way!
LED Lenser: Seo7R Rechargeable
This is the most prized possession I carry. Being able to see in the dark is a big plus. Most of the time you never need it, but all too often I’ve found myself staying in a location until the light was gone, miles away from camp. Or I’m on the other side of the river catching the last of the sunset light. I’d never leave home without one, and in fact there is some type of lightweight headlamp in every one of my camera bags. My most used is the Led Lenser. There are many types and brands, but I suggest going with a reputable one and getting as many true lumens as possible. The more lumens the brighter the light, but brighter usually means heavier and bulkier the headlamp.
Gear breaks and you need to be able to quickly rig it back to some type of working condition to finish the shoot. We can’t take a toolbox, but we can take a multi-tool! I thank my friend Jerry Daschofsky every time I use this wonderful gift he sent me, which is almost weekly. This gadget goes with me on every trip. And on every trip it comes in handy. I highly suggest that you get one that is tough and that can take a beating. Things might get a bit heavier, but when you need a tool, you don’t want it to bend or break. Then you’re really screwed. See what I did there?
FIRST AID KIT
Adventure Medical Kit: All sizes
I always travel with a medical kit. Usually I have a large full medical kit at my base of operations with splints and sutures and a small personal kit on my person. The more I travel the more I realize how important this is. I’ve seen a stick through the leg (mine), deeply cut hands, a hatchet to the thigh, broken bones, and violent illnesses deep in the jungle. I’m also a member of Global Rescue.
RECAP: Top 5 Top 5 Non-Photo Gadgets
- Quality knife
- Bright rugged headlamp
- Purified water bottle
- First-aid kit
<+> Tip <+>
First Aid Kit + Moleskin + Medical Tape + Multi-tool = LAV Mic Solutions
So you’re doing audio and you need to hide a LAV mic — standard stuff with fishing filmmaking. Let’s say the clothing the subject is wearing rubs on the LAV mic, and it creates a horrendous sound, or maybe a clip broke and you need a mounting solution in the field. Whatever it is, some audio tinkering happens every time. Then it hits ya — you forgot your little MacGyver audio gear bag at the hotel/lodge/car/base camp/anywhere but there! Not to worry.
Get your first-aid kit out of your pack and grab the moleskin and medical tape (Transpore medical tape is a standard in every audio bag as gaffers tape causes allergic reactions in some), and with your trusty pocketknife or scissors on your multi-tool, cut the moleskin in small pieces. Use the moleskin as you would stickies or whatever audio dampener tricks you usually use. The felt side of the moleskin helps to isolate the clothing from the LAV mic. Just add the moleskin to the area you want to put the mic, tape the mic onto the moleskin, and then add moleskin over the mic area, basically sandwiching the mic while mounting it in place. Adjust as needed. Audio disaster adverted in a pinch thanks to the first-aid kit. Now don’t forget to restock the kit!
+ Effective LAV Mic techniques +