Shoot, as in Johnny I Shoot Stuff, can mean a lot of things. Most of what I feature is shooting firearms. But, I’ve also shot archery and I shoot a lot of photos and video. I don’t show off many of photos and for every YouTube video I post on my JohnnyIShootStuff channel, I have 8-10 more videos that are nonpublic on another channel. Photo and video shooting is a way to capture moments, tell a story, and share an experience. I’ve always shot lots of photos wherever I go, and I’m a digital pack rat who never deletes anything.
This past South Africa trip, I shot something like 7500+ photos. 2800 of those photos were shot at the South African Military Parade and Capability Demo. I’ve carried point and shoot cameras, actions camera, mirrorless cameras, and DSLR cameras. Here is some of what I’ve learned from carrying a bag of gear all over major cities as well as the veld.
The camera doesn’t matter, you knowing how to use the gear you have is the thing that really matters. Buying a full frame DSLR is not going make you shoot better photos. Learn the exposure triangle, learn how to frame shots, and never shoot on auto mode.
A camera bag can be too big. A smaller bag will confine you to less gear - the gear you really need and not the stuff you think you might use but probably won’t. You also want an incognito bag. A thief only needs to steal one camera bag to learn how to recognize all camera bags. I like to use a 15L REI day pack for “high risk” areas.
Unless you’re on a paid shoot, you don’t need to haul your Canon 70-200mm f2.8. You can rent a lens just about anywhere you go. You can also reach out to local photo clubs where you might be able to find a gearhead to join you on your shoot.
Any accessories you have should work with all the cameras you’re carrying. I love Pedco clamps. They work with my DSLR down to my GoPro. I’ve stopped carrying a tripod since using these clamps.
There comes a time when you have to make a choice. Are you there to shoot photos or are you there to do something where you’d like to capture a photo or two. If you’re there do some something with someone, use your point and shoot or cellphone. If you’re there just to shoot photos, gear up and shoot away.
A half roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag can and will save you many times.
Never try and break in a new camera on a trip. Go out and shoot lots of junk photos before you get to your real subjects. Learn the ins and outs of every menu, setting, and camera quirk before you leave for the destination.
Camera gear can easily confuse airport security. The security staff in Johannesburg was very confused by my GoPro attached to a grip - a JFK the GoPole was something there were interested in.. They couldn’t figure out if it was a camera or a club. Be patient with them and offer to show them how it works.
BlackRapid straps are worth everything they cost. They take the weight off your neck and you stop banging your gear into things in front of you.
My Gear Bag
LowePro 22L (in hindsight I should have gotten the gray or black bag)
Canon 70D with 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses (10-18mm not pictured)
GoPro Hero 3+ black
GoPole Grenade Grip
Small sack of GoPro mounts
GoPro suction cup mount
Google Nexus Phone for sphere, pano, and quick shots
I also have some extra memory cards, some plastic shopping bags, and other personal odds and ends.