With music festival season already starting, I thought I’d share this blog post a few years ago when I got the call to photograph Bonnaroo for the first time. In preparation for the event, I researched and asked other photographers what to expect. Here’s the gear I ended up bringing, why I chose it, and how I used it. If a festival is in your near future, I hope this helps!
CAMERA EQUIPMENT OVERVIEW
Here’s a breakdown of the gear I used at the festival:
I wanted to make sure I was capturing the best, highest quality images possible, so I bought a couple of super fast 1DX Mark II bodies from Canon. These, coupled with the “trinity of the lens”, set me up for success in the photo booths while photographing sets and around the festival grounds capturing lifestyle images. I used the 24-70mm f/2.8 a little here and there, but for the most part I stuck with the 70-200mm f/2.8 and 11-24mm f/4.
Over the past few years, a certain brand of memory cards have failed quite reliably, so I made sure I had at least a few large, fast SanDisk cards to use primarily. At one point I stuck the other brand of card in my camera (I had a few as backups) and it immediately gave me a ‘card not readable’ error, so I discarded and handed over the SanDisk. other brands of card readers, as they are the most available and affordable, but I had four in case one failed. I have since upgraded to faster USB-C drives.
I also mentioned making sure CF cards were fast. This is vital in an environment where turnaround time is a high priority. If you work in a field where you need images to get online as soon as possible, you don’t want to be the person blocking everything because you bought cheap memory cards to save $30. When buying memory cards, always look at both read and write speeds. Just because they say 120MB/s or 800x instead of 160MB/s or 1066x on them doesn’t mean it applies to both speeds. You might not see a noticeable difference when shooting, but when you wait another 10 minutes or more for your map to upload and everyone has finished editing and uploading their photos, you’ll know why this card was so much cheaper.
After reading this guest blog by Adam Elmakias about wrist and back injuries, I looked for a SpiderHolster dual camera belt. It took all the weight of cameras and lenses off my shoulders and put it on my hips and legs. It took a bit of getting used to, but I eventually started getting the pins that attach to the bottom of the camera into the case pretty quickly. If you’ve never used it before and want to give it a try, just make sure your shirt stays tucked into the waistband and doesn’t get in the way of the holsters! I also used the SpiderPro straps, which helped me keep a good grip on the cameras and took some of the weight off my wrist when shooting.
Also, not knowing how many batteries I would be using each day, I rented four additional Canon LP-E4N batteries from BorrowLenses.com to make sure I was covered. Fortunately, the LP-E19 batteries that came with the 1DX Mark II cases lasted all day. There was a day when there was only two notches left with a set to pull, so I put in a new one to be sure. But it probably would have lasted through that last set without any issues. So while I may consider rented batteries a waste of money, I still feel like I did the right (and professional) thing in making sure I showed up with all the tools I had. need to do the job.
Hard drives have worked great, but now that SSD technology is more affordable, I highly recommend getting a couple of 1TB SSDs, or 2TB if you can spin it up, for primary and backup storage. You don’t want to run out of space, and those days are long with lots of captured footage. You can’t stop photographing the event just because you’re running out of space! Solid-state drives paired with fast cards and drives will save you valuable time so you can either get back to shooting photos or get some more sleep.
The City Walker bag was a perfect size to keep extra maps, batteries, water, snacks, sunscreen, and all the other random things I needed throughout the event.
So that’s the gear, but come back next week for my festival workflow setup!
You can see more of Brad’s work at BMOOREVISUALS.com and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.