Travel Photography is all about being on the go and exploring countries, cities and small towns of the world. Those of you who follow me know that my philosophy in photography is "One lens and one camera". Having the ability of being agile and ready to go is the biggest advantage in just going out and shooting photos. Trusting in a single focal length for that particular day, shoot or walk is the approach I take as this will let me just focus on framing my composition.
I use to want to have as many focal lengths and lenses to cover all the potential situations I might encounter on a trip. It took me a long time to realize how this was such a bad idea and would bog me down more than enhance my photographic experience. This is also a precursor to G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), believing you need every great piece of glass and convincing yourself of how you need it to make you a better photographer. Here I was on every trip, packing multiple heavy lenses and gear to cover every situation I can think of and 95% of the time on these trips a good amount of my gear would not see the light of day. What a waste of time and weight... And this is a common scenario I hear often times happen with other photographers. Its great to cover all your bases, but if you might use a lens one time on a trip, I say leave it. I have recently also moved away from using zooms as composing a shot with your feet is a much better experience. By sticking to a single focal length you move around your subject more often and you will start to see new angles to your subject that you would have never found with a zoom or switching lenses.
In photography, the camera is really just a tool, and if your thinking too much about the gear and what to bring, you have already lost the essence of the photographic experience. Keeping a simple camera and lens lineup will almost always give your a simpler photographic workflow and process. This is not me saying to just own one lens but stick to 2-3 focal lengths at most, and for a particular day stick to one lens. You could be doing street photography today and stick to a 35mm and the next day use a 50mm. With sticking to a single lens, you open up your creativity and eye to moving around your subject. The constraints of a single focal length in my opinion is really an advantage, just a little more work for you to get that shot.
The Everyday Advantage
Another advantage of packing your gear light and sticking to a single lens is the ability to just grab your camera and go out for the day. Prior to this philosophy I had my camera just sitting in a shelf most days only to get out the house when I was travelling and had a trip. By rethinking my philosophy, my camera is always ready to go with me as I only need one lens. This has opened up new opportunities of finding unexpected moments that you encounter on a day to day basis. I often times find much more joy nowadays when something comes across me on random day which becomes a fantastic photo. By packing light you have your gear ready to go out and shoot. Challenging you to find that creativity on a daily basis.
Some images I would not have been able to capture if I did not pack light and on the go:
Reflections at Crown Fountain Chicago
Sunset at Lake Forest
Only the essentials
When I am traveling or packing my gear I make sure to look at the footprint of my gear and only pack the essentials. I like to keep my gear light and also my luggage light. With the hassle of airport security and baggage allowance which seems to be shrinking by the year, staying light will make life easier. I have a small camera pouch which can hold my camera, 2 lenses which goes in my carry on roller, then chargers, batteries and camera cleaning material all go in smaller pouches. I have been able to trim my overall footprint to be able to fit in a roller carry on and not even need a backpack anymore. This makes my stroll thru the airport easy as all I need is to load my roller thru security and good to go.
No more will I stress my back and body with heavy gear, and add the inconvenience of carrying multiple items that need to be checked or screened. I try to keep my life hassle free so that I can focus on enjoying the journey and keep my mind free to focus on photography. I often tell people that the master photographers of the yesteryear never had the privilege of all the glass and lenses we have today. It was a simpler time and most tended to stick to a specific focal length. I might be a person of nostalgia for analog things, loving the manual dials, the classical feel and simple camera, but for me it makes me feel like I can be in touch better with my creative juices.
Images I was able to capture by traveling light on my way to work. Having only the essentials aside from all my real job essentials:
Beat the Rush (Chicago Rush Hour Traffic)
In conclusion, this is just a post to help explain why I like to travel light and on the go. What the benefits are that I see on a daily basis, and the perspective that I have in how I shoot day to day. In no way am I saying having all the gear you need is a bad thing, if that's what fits your bill then all for you. But by sticking to the same principles that I go through, you tend to save money, save time, travel with less stress and focus better on your photography versus focusing on gear. I hope this inspires you reading this to live a simpler life and hopefully this leads to a more fruitful experience. Now go out and shoot and get those #unexpectedmoments !
Additional Images of travelling light and finding random places: