Its a little under a week until I leave for the Antarctic. For me that only means one thing… the eternal packing and unpacking has begun. Flying with camera gear is a real mission and seems to get harder all the time. Airlines are stricter and it is more difficult to carry overweight hand baggage onto the plane.
To overcome this I have developed a few tactics. The first is the nonchalant standing with my camera backpack on my shoulder trying to act casual despite the fact that it weighs around 16kg! This usually works but now and then you are asked to weigh your hand baggage. When that happens I act as if it is the most natural thing in the world and put it onto the scale. As the numbers rocket up to a stunning 16kg I act surprised – “Wow I did not know it was that heavy.” The next step is to take out my laptop which I then say – “Oh ok, I’ll just carry this separately” as most airlines allow you to take a laptop on as an extra piece. If this doesn’t work then I flamboyantly open my bag and show the stunning array of camera gear bulging and say that it is too fragile to check in with my other luggage. This has always worked. In one instance I have to take the camera out of the bag and carry it separately.
Suffice it to say that luggage is one of the major stresses in my life when it comes to filming in another county. More than once I have arrived somewhere with my tripod nowhere to be seen and had to shoot for 10 days without a tripod. My basic rule of thumb is that I should have enough kit in my hand luggage to be able to pull off the shoot if my other bags do not arrive.
Another consideration is getting into the country you want to shoot in without arousing the suspicion of customs that you are going to film in their country (often without a permit). To overcome this I have made sure that my camera bag looks really battered and that for the most part I pack everything I need into one big duffel bag which looks like I could be going on a climbing trip or just a regular tourist.
Once in Australia I had to convince very astute customs officials that I was an enthusiast going to film on the great barrier reef… “But this is very pro kit for a tourist mate…”. Even as I write this I feel stressed about my upcoming trip. Oh well, better get back to packing and unpacking which will take at least the next 3 days.
Will post more once I land in Argentina.