Keeping your gear simple and lightweight really allows you to explore the creative process while traveling. Sure it’s great to have your entire arsenal of gear available so you have options, but there’s something really liberating about having less gear and freeing yourself for creativity and not being dependent on your gear for that.
It took me a while to figure out what gear I wanted to bring with me to Cuba. I knew we’d be on our feet a lot as well as doing a lot of traveling in and around Havana. I knew it’d be very hot. However I did want to have speedlites and triggers – even stands and modifiers!
I ended up bringing my Nikon DSLR with a few primes and a Fuji X100s. Oh, and a couple speedlites, infrared trigger and mini tripod. If I had to do things again, I would not bring speedlites, tripods, or triggers. I wouldn’t even bring my DSLR. Now, if all you have is a DSLR, then it’s a logical choice, however for me I’d just bring the Fuji X100s and perhaps a Fuji X-Pro 1.
The quality of the files from the Fuji’s is impressive and having a couple options would be nice. Those cameras are super compact and relatively lightweight – especially when compared to a pro DSLR and pro glass.
Besides gear, it’s important to think about how you act when traveling. You’re a guest in another country, so being respectful of the people and local customs is very important. And as a photographer, it’s important to know what you can and cannot shoot. Some countries (Cuba included) are very strict about not photographing police and military personnel. This is important to know because the last thing you want when traveling is a problem with the authorities!
It also helps to try to make an effort to introduce yourself to people. Make eye contact. Be friendly. Smile. Sometimes a little effort goes a long way and you can be pleasantly surprised with the connections you can make with people.
Remember, at the end of the day, your camera is just a tool. A medium for making photographs. Whether you have your entire kit, or just a nice body and lens, you still have all you need to get the job done. And it’s also cool to take time to enjoy your experience without the aid of the camera, rather then spend your entire time looking thru the lens.
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PS Here’s Greetings from Havana Part Two. I didn’t give it a separate blog post, but you can check it out here: