Chris Crisman Photography

How We Travel.

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

We travel a lot. So much in fact that you could say we have it down to a science. Before we even arrive at the airport, Chris and our team know that everything is in order – when you’re on the road and up in the air as much as we are, you can’t leave anything to chance. How do we do it? Keep reading for an in-depth look at how we travel…

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

First things first when it comes to really moving around the country or the world – choose an airline and stick with it. Join their frequent flyer program and reap the benefits. Depending on who you’re flying with this could mean anything from free checked bags to early boarding, to first class upgrades. Yes, it’s tempting to always search for the cheapest flight, but it’s important to weigh the value of working the airline system. Once you’re really starting to haul a lot of gear, make sure to check and see if you can qualify for a media rate. It varies from airline to airline, but as a photographer you can qualify for media discounts on the number of bags you can fly with and how much they weigh.

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

This is a pretty standard kit for us to take to the airport. Two lighting cases, two stand cases, a monitor case, pelican case and a cart; this is how we take our show on the road so to speak. The best part about hauling all of this to the airport every time we fly? The multicart. It might seem crazy, but airport travel is so much easier when you can load it all up and roll through the terminal.

No matter what you shoot with and what kit you own, you should value and appreciate it. We have quite a bit of equipment, and when we’re flying for a shoot, we bring as much of that kit as we can. You might be asking yourself – why not rent it all? Why deal with the hassle when you don’t need to? The answer is simple. More often than not we’re working on the edge, shooting in environments and locations where gear rental just isn’t a realistic option. When we are working in areas where we can get our hands on equipment, then it’s an issue of familiarity – we own our gear, we know our gear, so we might as well use it. Why pay for someone else’s when we don’t have to?

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

That being said, you can’t always fly with everything – I don’t want to imagine the look on an airline employee’s face if we tried to roll up to the ticket window with combo stands or a superboom with us. So what do we do when we need the big stuff? When we’re shooting somewhere new and need some help? We trust the locals. Whether it’s a local grip house that can source us some big boy combo stands and a 12×12′ scrim, a local photo assistant who knows the best place to get a burger and beer after the shoot, or a location scout that can help us remotely find the perfect spot for a shoot – you’re always better off trusting some local expertise.

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

Most importantly though, you have to know what you’re getting into. Want to know one of the best purchases we’ve made in the last few years? A luggage scale – I like it so much that I even took a photo of it. It may sound crazy, but with airline restrictions getting tighter and tighter in terms of baggage, we’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the game. In this case, it means that each of our equipment cases weights 49.9 lbs. So this is a really specific example but there is a serious point here. It mean’s were prepared. In a sense, traveling for a project is just like going on a shoot itself – being prepared ahead of time and ready for anything leaves no room for mistakes.

chris crisman photography how we travel tips and tricks

There it is – my favorite sight after getting off a long flight. There’s nothing quite like watching our multicart roll off the baggage carousel. When we’re just setting foot into a new and sometimes strange place, getting ready for a few adventure, there is something very reassuring about seeing our kit come down the baggage belt.

12 comments
  1. Michael Graydon says: April 15, 201312:15 pm

    Hey guys, great post! Starting to travel a little more myself, wondered what model of MultiCart you’d recommend. Living in Toronto, no supplier has stock for me to see for myself. Thanks in advance. M

  2. Philip says: April 15, 20138:30 pm

    I really enjoyed this blog post, and appreciate it’s impeccable timing! This is something I will be having to deal with very soon as I will be traveling to the Philly area in early May and be spending the summer there. I’m going to have to figure out how to get as much gear there as possible.

    I don’t remember if you’ve done one in the past, but a suggestion for a future blog post I would love to see is the workflow/backup system you guys use. From the files on the card, to import and organization, edits, sending client images, and backup of the whole thing, how do you do it?

  3. Robert Luessen says: April 16, 20138:46 am

    Hey Michael, glad you like the post man! We use the R-12 cart. It has the biggest, smoothest wheels and it can hold a ton of gear. If you have the space for it and the money, it’s a good investment. Also, look into getting a shelf for the cart and you have a rolling tether station!

  4. Robert Luessen says: April 16, 20138:49 am

    Hey Phil, glad you enjoyed this post – hope it helps in your travels. If you’re really looking to bring a ton of stuff, also consider shipping some of the more sturdy equipment via Fedex or UPS.

    Great idea for a blog post! We’ve touched on it briefly before (http://www.crismanphoto.com/blog/?p=2829) but I could go further in-depth with that process. Thanks.

  5. Andy Wakeman Photo says: April 16, 20139:33 am

    This is awesome. I was just going to ask you guys to detail out your travel gear… you read my mind!!! I get freaked out checking any lighting or photo gear other than grip. Are you cases hard? From the photos the just look like semi-hard canvas.

    Thanks!!!

  6. Robert Luessen says: April 16, 20139:35 am

    Thanks Andy!

    All of our heads and power packs travel in Tenba Air cases which are padded ballistic nylon. They’re rated for air travel and hold up really well. An investment, but worth the money. Our modifiers and grip travel in softer bags, and the cameras travel in a hard pelican case. Hope this helps!

  7. Michael Graydon says: April 16, 201312:13 pm

    Thanks Robert! Much appreciated.

  8. Joe Treleven says: April 18, 20139:39 am

    Thanks Andy, your work is awesome – and Chris’ ain’t bad either! ;)
    I was wondering if you guys take a camera bag on the plane also, so you’re not stuck if the checked bags get sent to Dubai or somewhere like that. Otherwise, my plan is similar. Thanks for the airline tips! Oh, do you know if the R12 cart is a lot lighter than a Magliner? I love the wheels on yours!

  9. Robert Luessen says: April 18, 20139:49 am

    Hey Joe, that’s a good detail that I didn’t totally cover. We do take cameras as carry-on luggage… there’s no way our Hasselblad system will ride in the cargo area. And you’re dead on about the weight of the R12, they’re a lot lighter and can go a lot more places than a magliner. Thanks!

  10. [...]  – We go in depth about how we travel and what gear we like to take with us [...]

  11. [...] Some damn decent tips for traveling with your photo gear on assignment from Chris Crisman  [...]

  12. [...] We travel so much now that we’ve developed a system for every part of the process. We have to pack the right numbers of bags right up to the 50 pound limit as to not get hit with one of the big over the top fees that the airlines would love to charge you. We know the area of the parking lot to head to in order increase our chances of finding our car in a week. There are a few other things that aren’t worth mentioning, but you probably get the idea. We take pride in making the airport transfer process a smooth ride. (For a bit more technical approach to how we travel, you may want to take a look at our blog post on… [...]

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