Is it possible to keep your camera gear safe while traveling?
If you are a photography enthusiast, the chances are that you love traveling as well. Whatever be the month or season, there is always something there for photographers to explore and capture. Earth is a beautiful planet with a lot of exotic locations spread all around the world. A photographer generally has a bucket list which includes all of these places, and the purpose is to experience and photograph Mother Nature in all its glory. It does not necessarily have to be nature only. There are many other aspects of photography, like objects and substances, which can be captured in minute details as well.
If you are a photographer, either by passion or profession, you may have to travel to different locations for various purposes. For example, photographers working for big labels like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel have to keep moving from place to place in search of new stories and pictures.
One thing that is their constant companion throughout their travel is their camera along with the associated gears like the bag, stand, and other equipment. If you ask any photographer, they will vouch for the fact that their camera and gear are under the constant threat of theft. There is no denying the fact that these equipment are quite costly and can sell at a high price in the black market. Similarly, there is always a chance of misplacing or losing them. A lot of it is driven by luck as well. The world is not such a bad place that it is besotted with danger at every corner. It may be escalated in someplace and may be safer in others. There is also a constant threat of damage to the equipment, either due to some kind of accident or unfortunate incident.
Traveling with a camera and gear can become pretty cumbersome sometimes. This doesn’t mean that you should refrain from doing so. What you should do instead is to take all the necessary precautions to keep your camera gear safe, especially during traveling. Although the tips will be useful for local use as well.
These are actually precautions that may look small on the outset, but once followed, vehemently might go a long way in providing the necessary protection to your camera. Here are some useful tips for the same.
Invest in a quality camera bag
Now that you have invested a lot in the machinery for photography, it would not make sense to be frugal while purchasing a camera bag. What you need to remember is the fact that the safety of your camera and equipment is heavily dependant on the kind of bag you take. Therefore, it should be of the highest quality and should serve all the purposes adequately. Other than protection, it should be lightweight, easy to carry, and should have an esthetic aspect attached to it as well. A few of the types of camera bags include:
Padded bag or case- this type of bag is mainly for protection, as mentioned before. When you are traveling, it is very common for you to move around a lot with your camera. Your bag might also bang onto railings, posts, or even other people while walking. It is essential that during these times, the camera does not get the direct impact of the hit and remains encased properly. A padded bag is a must for situations like these. It should be separate from your routine backpack and should be carried separately. The padding should be at the right places for maximum benefits so that it can cushion the fall or impact. It should ideally also be water-proof for protection against water and rain.
DSLR shoulder bag- you might have to visit places that are extremely crowded during traveling for photography. Having a backpack is a horrifying idea as you will keep bumping into people with it and won’t be able to understand if anyone tries to manipulate it easily. Using a shoulder bag is a much better option as you will not be knocking over stuff without the knowledge. You will also be able to keep an eye out for your camera even while walking. It should also be comfortable on your shoulder, and the strap should be sturdy with a buckle. Thus, a DSLR shoulder bag is a must for carrying your camera while traveling.
The bag has a waterproof cover- imagine you are doing a shoot in the tropical rainforest and it starts to rain, which is actually a very common incident. You cannot halt or pause your work as it may hinder your progress. Instead, a waterproof cover for your camera and gear is a useful option here. You can just fit your camera into the bag and let only the important parts that you need for photography to be strategically exposed and you can go about your job professionally. This will add to your credibility as a photography professional as well.
Must have a tripod stand- a tripod is an important part of your camera equipment as it lets you position your camera and stabilize it so that you can take still pictures or include yourself in it. However, carrying a tripod stand can become a little cumbersome. To avert this problem, your bag should have some provision to include the tripod conveniently so that you can lug it around with you without any problem whatsoever.
Don’t overpack the bag
You might have bought a camera bag with a lot of additional spaces after packing your camera equipment. But, that doesn’t mean that you should utilize these areas by stuffing other irrelevant things in it. The pockets and emptiness can look slightly tempting, but you should also consider the fact that some of the equipment is pretty delicate and can break at the application of the slightest of unwarranted pressure. Always keep an additional backpack for your other uses and keep the camera bag unique and specific for a particular purpose.
Another problem with overpacking is the fact that it might have to start bearing more weight than it is equipped to do, and this can lead to damage to the straps and hooks. Your bag can tear in the middle of a project when you need its services, and this might cause grave inconvenience. Therefore, never overpack.
Keep a record of your gear
Now that you have got some idea about what kind of bag is best for your camera and gear to be safe from inclement weather, incidental damages, and theft, it is time to think about your gear in general. Generally, the number of equipment a photographer carries is a lot, and it might become challenging to keep track of all of it. The problem is more significant when you are a frequent traveler, as you have to pack and unpack multiple times. The big ones are easy to spot. The small ones have a higher chance of getting misplaced.
So, what is an effective way of making sure that nothing of that sort happens? You can follow the age-old tactics of keeping a list of things that you carry with you and cross-check with it when you are leaving. Another advantage of using this method is that you can do a quick check of the equipment before leaving, so if there are any problems, you can identify it at a premature stage and get it repaired immediately. This will not interfere with your work at any stage as well.
It is a common practice to get insurance for everything that you hold dear in life and things that have a specific substantial monetary value. Your camera equipment is no exception as they do cost a considerable amount of money. Moreover, if you are a photographer for a famous agency or outlet, even your pictures will be worth a lot. Therefore, it is always a good idea to get coverage for this equipment – on top of the regular travel one, check Globelink travel insurance to get a quote – so that you get some reimbursement if the unthinkable happens to you. Always go for a policy that is most suitable for you.
Keep your camera equipment dry and clean
At the end of the day, all your camera equipment is electronic items, and it is a very common knowledge that water and moisture are a sworn enemy to them. Thus, you have to make every effort to ensure that everything is kept as dry as possible. This is a bigger problem in places with humid conditions as the moisture tends to get retained easily. The moisture can get converted to water droplets and cause some kind of short-circuit and permanent damage. Unclean equipment also has the danger of getting damaged due to minor scratches and blockages in it. Your schedule may require you to be on the move all the time and that too through places that are not very hygienic or clean, and it will have a propensity for the accumulation of dirt.
Your main motive should be to prevent that from happening. You have to ensure that you dedicate some time regularly for cleaning and drying equipment. It is not a task that will take a lot of time, though. All you need to do is include the cleaning part in your schedule as well, and soon you will fall into the normal pattern. There will be an increase in the life of the equipment as well if you take these simple precautionary steps. These are some of the associated hazards related to outdoor photography, and it should not deter you from your work in any way, you have to put in the effort and walk that extra mile.
Have a backup plan
There is always a sense of uncertainty as every electronic equipment can stop working at any moment despite taking good care of it. It is always a good idea to keep a backup of all your pictures on a hard drive or a laptop or desktop. It is useful when there is some unforeseen accident, and you lose your camera or all the data, you can recover it easily. Nowadays, cloud computing has become very famous and feasible.
It is an online storage form that doesn’t require you to have a physical hard drive but functions like one. Immediately after a trip, assignment, or project, connect your camera to a compatible device and do all the necessary transfers as a backup. This will clear off space from the memory chip of the camera as well, and you can go all out, clicking as many pictures as you want, again.
Keep an eye on who’s around you
It doesn’t hurt to be aware, especially when you are traveling to a new place or country. As it was mentioned before, not every place is filled with miscreants waiting to rob you, but that does not rule out the fact that it does happen sometimes. It is better not to ride your luck with destiny and be prepared as much as possible. Just keep an eye out whenever you are clicking pictures. If you spot anything suspicious, it is better to either bail from there or brings it to the attention of any concerned authority or police.
If you ask photographers, they will tell you that they use the reflection of the lens as a potent method to keep an eye out for trouble. You could also make certain modifications like hiding the brand of your camera, beating down your camera and equipment carrier a little so that it looks old and not so attractive to the people with ulterior motives etcetera. Self-help is the best help, and when you are in an unknown territory, you should exercise this even more vehemently.
These seven tips above are surely going to be invaluable if you follow them to the tooth and nail. You can keep your camera and gear safe and sound while enjoying your time on the road and traveling as well. Enjoy!