What National Geographic Photographers carry on assignments

At a recent National Geographic Travel Photography Seminar the presenters where specific about what they have in their bags.  I'm guessing it is a question they get often.  These are the basics of their knapsacks:

  • two camera bodies
  • lens: wide-angle, telephoto, mid-range zoom and fixed portrait
  • one flash
  • tripod (carbon fiber is best)
  • half-gray filters
  • magnifying glass (to see the camera screen in detail)
  • small notebooks (to document the date, place, time, subject and other points they will not remember after taking a thousand shots)

More lecture notes you may find useful:

Before you travel, research what you want to see and capture, write it down in a take-along notebook. 

When you arrive in a new location, ask those that live there "What do you think is cool here?" and "What should I photograph here?".

If you are going to a foreign country, learn how to say:  "May I take your picture?", "That's beautiful", "What is your name?".  Each culture has a wide spectrum of comfort level with being photographed but most people are flattered when asked to have their picture taken.  Dress appropriately for the area to fit in.  Convey confidence and a positive energy. 

If you love what you are doing it will show.