Travelling with Cameras

If you are anything like me, the hardest part about planning a trip is deciding what cameras to bring and how to pack them. Whenever I travel, I usually have an assortment of cameras with me to document my journey, so it’s always a struggle to figure out the best solution for travelling light.

If you are just travelling for pleasure, I would consider the type of adventure you’re taking and whether or not you’re going to be able to physically lug (and I mean LUG) around that beast you call a DSLR. I’ve gotten to the point where carrying a big camera around whilst travelling is too much of a burden and I now really think about what kind of experience I want to have before I leave.

I generally try to limit myself to a few kinds of cameras. In the past I would bring the DSLR, a 35mm, a couple of Polaroids and any number of other quirky cameras like the Holga or Fuji Instax. After years of breaking my back lugging cameras through airports and dealing with the ordeal that is airport security, I’ve realised it really isn’t worth the stress on my shoulders and brain. And yes, I deal with airport security because I never check my cameras- they always come on board with me, no matter what. I’ve seen how baggage handlers “handle” luggage and there is no way I’m ever putting a camera in my checked luggage. EVER!

I now bring one 35mm or medium format, one Polaroid camera and one point and shoot-either digital or film. Obviously if I’m travelling for a specific shooting purpose then I would have to bring the DSLR and lenses and a Polaroid- there’s always a Polaroid.

My recent trip to Morocco was rather difficult because I had the Polaroid cameras I needed to bring for the workshops plus other cameras I wanted to use to document my trip. I actually ended up leaving two Polaroid cameras at home simply because I couldn’t get them in the ONE on-board bag that stupid Easyjet allows. Not one bag and one personal item like every other airline–ONE BAG! My on-board bag is usually chosen on the basis of what cameras I’m bringing and how I can best fit them in.

On international flights, I will generally take a backpack for all my cameras and then a smaller handbag for my personal items. I’m yet to graduate to the hardcore photography case but that’s simply because I’m not transporting two DSLRs, various lenses and accessories. If this is something you do, then you may want to look into one of those or a professional carry-on like this one.

My backpack is just a regular one that I will outfit myself to store cameras. I pull the velcro inserts out of my old Crumpler and Lowepro camera cases to make some buffers between the cameras. I also wrap my cameras. These camera wraps are designed for that very thing. I actually wrap mine in a soft case that my Peter Alexander pyjamas came in! They are soft and have a ribbon that you can wrap around the camera to protect it whilst inside a bag. It’s totally dodgy but it works! I’ve used scarves in the past too.

On smaller trips where I don’t take as many cameras, I will usually take a tote or satchel that is big enough to house a few cameras and my personal items. This camera insert is a great idea when transporting cameras inside other bags that aren’t camera bags. I will also take a pouch or two for little odds and ends like memory cards, rolls of film etc. Of course, there are an array of gorgeous photography bags out there for women who want stylish cameras bags and many of these are great for travel. I’m rather fond of this one.

I always make sure to have my film in plastic zip-lock bags for airport security as I get them to hand check it. I never put my film in my checked baggage because those X Ray machines are a lot more powerful and dangerous to film than the ones we see at security. Film under 800 ISO is apparently able to go through the security machines, but when I’m doing various flights in a short period of time, I’d rather not take the risk. It shouldn’t go through continually.

You just ask one of the security agents to hand check your film and they are always happy to oblige. I’ve never had a problem. I usually have bigger problems with my SX70 or SLR680 because they lay flat and the security agents have no idea what they are- they don’t look like cameras when they are folded. So I often have to open them up and explain what they are. Most of the time I think they are just intrigued and want to know how these weird looking cameras work.

It takes a bit of time at the security check point to get everything arranged back in the backpack again but it’s worth the hassle. How do you travel with your gear? I’d love to know if there are any new bags out there that people are enjoying. I’m always on the hunt!

p.s. This ‘travel shot’ wasn’t taken on any of those cameras. Total iPhone shot!

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Things I Noticed About Paris

Things I noticed about Paris

// The light is soft and makes for beautiful, creamy tones in photographs.  All those white buildings help. I love that I could get gorgeous light shining in between them with every shot.

// Women really do have high end designer bags. In Canada and Australia, high end designer bags are coveted, but in Paris it appears that many (of those walking around the streets), have a Prada or a Louis Vuitton.

// There are discoveries around every corner. Detail and beauty is poured into everything and even the alley ways were inviting and pretty. I remember feeling this in Italy when I was there.

// Yes, Parisians are beautifully dressed. There were a lot of neutral colours and it made me want to throw out my whole wardrobe and start from scratch.

// The cafes are crowded. But it felt like everywhere in Paris was crowded. I feel bad for them. Living in a city that is constantly bombarded with tourists must get old fast. And the thing they say about waiters is true. But I don’t think that they’re rude. They’re just busy. Once you get their attention, they are attentive and accommodating.

// Paris is a town full of inspiration. From the art galleries to the buildings, the details, the people and fashion, food and architecture, there is no wonder that it is a city of artists. The way the city was built really makes you shake your head at how so much of the modern western world is so ugly. I really despise the “suburbifcation” of many places both in Sydney and Vancouver (and I’m sure is the same in many cities in the States and the UK)- you know the places, where everything looks the same and has has no thought of design put into the building and architecture whatsoever. Parisians know how to beautify their surrounds, I don’t see why the rest of us can’t.

All images were shot with my favourite film, Kodak Portra!

p.s. For those of you on tumblr, I am over there sharing photos and whatnot. You can follow me here.

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A Piece of Irish Heaven in the States

Scituate, MA…one of the loveliest towns I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. A small seaside town not far from Boston and the most Irish town in America. This was from a very short weekend visit spent with family.

Quaint doesn’t even begin to describe this gorgeous little pocket of the world. These were shot on the main street of Scituate and out at the lighthouse on the edge of the harbour.  As we stood on the rocks by the lighthouse, looking across the Atlantic Ocean, I could visualize thunderous waves rolling in during a storm. The houses are built for it, but I imagine it would be a little scary when the seas get rough. And those buildings? Adorable! I don’t know how many times I think this in my life living abroad, but I knew I wasn’t in Australia anymore.

I really love this part of the world…isn’t it gorgeous?

As always, these images were shot on Kodak Portra 400 film.

p.s. Registration for the summer session of Shoot By Design opens at 9am PST today!

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Essaouira

Essaouira is a seaside town on the west coast of Morocco. It was such a distinct contrast from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Where Marrakech feels to be constantly awash in pink hues, Essaouira is a bright change with its white buildings and blue details. The tiles, doors, window frames and shop awnings were all a shade of blue against the white and as you can imagine, it was a photographer’s dream.

We spent the day wandering through the small souk, lounged as we had lunch in a rooftop restaurant and filled our bags with more jewels. Jen, Susannah, Heidi and I found a sweet, little cafe in a square where we looked over our images and sipped on cappuccinos and tea. Even though the journey was long, we all were so pleased we got to see this beautiful, little town. If you ever visit Morocco, I definitely recommend taking a trip to Essaouira!

Photographs shot on Kodak Portra 400 film.

p.s. Thank you so much for all your kind words about my Darcy. It means a lot to me.

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Paris

I could have wandered around Paris with my camera for a month at least. My favourite part of our trip was being able to just wander and soak it in. Every corner I turned offered something new and I found myself wanting to get lost at every bend. My eyes often weren’t looking in front of me, as I was captivated by side streets and narrow alleyways, worrying that I was going to miss something. And I know that I did. I know that down one of those lanes and around one of those corners, there was something special waiting…an old, lace curtain hanging in the most perfect of windows, a centuries old store filled with trinkets and jewelry that would have begged me to take them home, or a quiet, little cafe enticing me to stay all afternoon. I couldn’t get too lost as we were short on time and had so much to see, but I can’t wait to go back to just spend some time dawdling and purposely setting myself adrift.

All images were shot on Kodak Portra 400 film.

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Paris, Je t’aime

Firstly, welcome back to a newer, fresher Mocking Bird! Thank you for your patience as we cleared out the craziness. I’ve missed this space and am so glad to be back.

What can I say about Paris? Our 4 days were filled to the brim with sweet French magic. She delighted me in ways I could never have imagined and left me pondering faulty images my mind had conjured up ahead of time.

She wooed me as I knew she would with her beauty and sophistication. Seeing her architecture and regalness in the flesh touched me in new ways and I was overcome with joy upon being able to wander her streets as though they were my own.

Montmartre was as perfect as I could have hoped, with her cobbled stones, winding streets, soaring stairways, and boulangeries galore. The hardest part of my day was choosing which patisserie to purchase breakfast from. Our perfect little window overlooked the square on Place des Abbesses, where a 4 piece band would play in the evenings and people would stroll with baguettes in hand. Much to my joy, it also had a view of the Eiffel Tower, that I would look upon with wishes of ‘bonne nuit’ each evening. She truly is beautiful when she twinkles.

I didn’t have too much trouble with the language barrier as I ended up having my built in French speaker with me the whole time. Sean surprised me on my first day in Morocco with an email telling me he was coming to meet me in Paris. I was overjoyed that I would get to spend my first time in Paris with him. We have been talking about going together for as long as we have known each other and it wouldn’t have been right without him. We walked the Seine as I had always imagined, we shared a kiss on the Eiffel Tower, he indulged me in afternoon tea at both Ladurée and Angelina, and we strolled through the Musee d’Orsay and the Musee de l’Orangerie- oh my god, the waterlilies in that museum are AMAZING. I had one of my “this is a once in a lifetime experience right now!” moments there.

Paris always had my heart from afar and now she has a piece of it floating over Rue Lepic awaiting my return.

What do you think of my Polaroid memories? And let me know your thoughts on the new look! It’s great to be back!

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Marrakech Has My Heart

When the opportunity arose for me to teach an instant photography workshop in Morocco, I was of course thrilled and excited, but there was a part of me that was a little apprehensive about going to Africa on my own. Travel and exploration is deep rooted within my heart and is the reason I’m a photographer. I love to explore and discover new things, so getting the chance to shoot, teach and travel in a vibrant place like Marrakech was a dream come true. But there was a part of me that was unsure of what to expect, and I wasn’t even sure it would be somewhere I would even like.

My first few days in Marrakech were an explosion. I had never set foot in a place so loud, so chaotic and so very, very vibrant. I was on sensory overload and at first glance, I wasn’t sure Marrakech and I would get along. My first morning, I awoke to the sounds of distant chanting- a sound to which my jetlagged mind wasn’t able to decipher. It wasn’t until a chance moment on a rooftop terrace overlooking the medina, that my heart was captured. The sun was blanketing the pink brick of Djemaa el Fna when voices called out from speakers across the entire square. It felt as though the calls were coming from every corner of the city all echoing in on top of one another. The girls and I stood there sinking it all in as the sun went down across the Atlas Mountains knowing that we were experiencing something special. It was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Marrakech hits you hard at first and then slowly draws you in…the people, the light, the architecture, the call and the absolute contrast of it all. There has never been a place that has existed like it in my life. Morocco has crept into my soul and I’m happy for it to stay there for the rest of my days.

There are lots more Polaroids, instant and film photos to come!

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