The travelling Broncolor photographer

By on August 6, 2014

You’re a location shooter, you travel regularly, you love your off camera battery powered lights and you’re looking to figure out how to bring the most amount of gear in the least amount of bags. The bags you find are too long, too heavy, or too numerous and it’s going to cost you a fortune. You have this gear you’ve spent so much money on but it would almost cost less to just rent on location.

What do you do?

Compromise or pay.

At least that’s what I’ve had to do for the longest time until one of my buddies and fellow Broncolor ambassador Dustin Snipes told me about this nifty little travel trick.

Some airlines have special luggage allowance for Media professionals.

Airline companies like American Airlines, Delta, and United have these nifty little luggage exceptions that allow you to check in oversized and overweight baggage at a fraction of the cost of normal luggage.

Example:
Screen Shot 2014 07 29 at 2 11 41 PM

Different airlines have different policies, and some, like Air Canada which used to be my favourite airline despite their baggage dropping scandal), don’t (I asked…on twitter.)

For some of these airlines, you may require to provide more than just a business card as proof you’re a media professional so I went ahead and printed out my own plastic ID card that now double up as luggage tags.

Boom. Instant proof.

IMG_4492 copy

Note: previous version of media pass contained a PPOC logo that I am no longer a part of. This is the latest upgraded version!

The next challenge when travelling, is the number of bags and the size. Especially when travelling alone, you want to minimize the number of bags that you carry with you whenever possible. Although my Broncolor Move kits came with a sexy broncolor bag I didn’t want to lug around 2x bags for my flashes but I also didn’t want to need a monstrously that was painful to pull around. It had to be solid enough to be checked in and well built enough to sustain the abuse that I would put it through.

Enter the Logistics Manager 30. A super deep )as opposed to long ( *cough* no dirty jokes here)) bag with ballistic zippers and light as a feather even at full capacity when being rolled on a flat surface.

DSC 2010

And what does it look like in real life?

Well: this is me trying to fit inside my bag:

In conclusion:

Yes, you’ll notice that I did not pack any sandbags or stands because that is universally available and super easy to get a hold of in any country no matter how exotic. Yes, a pelican case would be more secure, but they typically fit so little and weigh so much that at the end of the day they’re just not a practical case.

Am I worried that the lights will break?

Well, if they were anything but Broncolor’s I would probably be worried… but the build quality on these are amazing and you can pack them so that they’re nicely cushioned by all the cables around each head. My philosophy is that if you’ve spent thousands of dollars on great equipment, it’s hopefully to use it, not keep it at home in a pretty box.

That’s it! If you guys have any other packing tips and tricks, please feel free to list them in the comments below!

If you’re travelling, give me a shout out! SFO and Photokina are on the charts for the future :)

See my travel plans on my Von Wong app:

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  • Mystic Reality

    Was the ID made from a template, did you make it from scratch or was it from an organization? Just curious as it seems it could be handy.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      i made it myself :)

    • Mystic Reality

      Fancy!

    • keith

      can you post a up close pic of your media id :)

  • http://www.toddbeltz.com Todd Beltz

    Cool stuff. Now I see how you packed that bag. :) Looking at getting myself one soon as well. Thanks for the tips…

  • tdayley

    Fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: This Tip Will Get More Of Your Photography Bags On An Airplane - DIY Photography()

  • Amy Dragoo
  • http://www.paulojordao.com Paulo Jordao

    Super Cool… What site did you use to make your ID Card?

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      I had a friend make it for me who works in a paintball store!

  • Wayne Thompson

    FYI – American Airlines specifically recognizes and lists the ASMP as a Media Outlet and you pay 1/2 of the cost of extra bags. i.e. $50 instead of $100. Bottom-line check with your airline before you fly.

  • Bobby Blacque

    Yeah, great advice! Make up fake press passes to try and get airlines to give you deals or waive your luggage overages. Very smart. Airlines and other businesses long ago lost respect for photographers thanks to this kind of douchebaggery (tried to take any pictures in a public place, shopping mall, zoo etc lately?). This kind of advice is wrong, immature and unprofessional. It also does nothing to raise the profile or professionalism of photography and makes everyone who carries a camera to work look like a juvenile douche. What about those members of the press who are legitimately on assignment, working to tell important stories like those that James Foley gave his life for last week? Shenanigans like this might just result in the revocation of any special treatment these deserving people might be entitled to. Professional photography needs mature stewards and mentors more than ever, grow up and set an example for others.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Sorry you feel that way but in my opinion, there is nothing fake about calling myself a media professional.

    • Bobby Blacque

      Right, which is why you have to make your own card at a paintball store….Regardless, why offer this advice to others who are not likely travelling while on assignment for a news organization? It devalues a once valuable tool in the profession.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Because it didn’t make financial sense to purchase a machine to print my own card. I’ve been a full time photographer for two years and only learned about it, why not share information that could be useful to others facing the same struggles?

    • Bobby Blacque

      You’ve missed the point entirely. It doesn’t matter if you print your own media card or have one done in a paintball shop or buy one on Kao Sahn Road in Bangkok, the point is, you’re not really entitled to the benefits of a travelling photojournalist which is who these “perks” were created for and for you to game the system, and worse still, tell others to, is just wrong. And it’s not about the money either, its about the sanctity of the profession. Guys like Joe McNally, David Allen Harvey, James Nachtwey, Tim Heatherington (RIP) etc. etc. are heroes of the photography profession and who would never dream of pretending to be something they’re not in order to save $45. They wouldn’t discredit the profession in such a fashion and as a result, their work, character and status are universally held to be the last vestiges of the golden age of professional photojournalism. Trickery, deceit, and gaming only serve to blur the lines between professional and camera hobbyist and that’s something this business does not need any more of.

      You’re a commercial photographer anyway. Not a news photographer or a photojournalist so, stop pretending. Sure, you might have to travel for commercial clients in which case, you should be charging appropriate rates to allow you to check in or rent the necessary gear on location. Why lower clients expectations of the cost of good photography by helping them save $50 in luggage charges? Charge appropriate rates, stop trying to game the system and raise the bar for the next generation. Otherwise, all the work will eventually go to the photographers who have the best scams for saving money and not to those who do the best work.

      If people charged appropriate rates and didn’t try to win jobs by relying on phoney tricks to save a buck, there would be much less “struggle” for everyone.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      I think you’re the one missing the point – These aren’t allowances that have been made exclusively for press photographers or videographers. Read them again. These are allowances that have been created for media professionals that transport a lot of expensive equipment regardless if they are sound, image or video. No one is pretending to be anyone they aren’t.

    • Bobby Blacque

      Except for 80% of the people who read this post who probably are not “media professionals”. Your post is not about about helping “media professionals” its about self promotion. When can we expect the $2000 a head workshop tour? If you’ve only been at this for two years, maybe you should focus on photography and save the advice until you’ve got 20 years under your belt.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Sorry you see things that way. No plans for a $2000 head tour yet but I’ll be sure to let you know in the event that you wish to attend :)

      I’ve built my career on sharing information for free and inspiring people to pursue their dreams. I don’t have any plans to stop. If you find them uninformative, uneducational or false, feel free to not read them.

    • Bobby Blacque

      Here’s your workshop: http://www.jaymaisel.com/workshop/

      Go kneel at the feet of a true pro. And since when is 2 years a “career”? In any other business, it’s half an apprenticeship.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Thank you for the suggestion! I’ll be sure to check it out! :)

    • Danylo

      lol Troll . some people can get further in 2 years than others in a life time. hard to admit but true. I agree with Ben. Most amateurs wouldnt bother to do all this card work in any case. Thanks for the tips Ben! Didn’t know this allowance!

    • Jayson carpenter

      Troll

  • DafOwen

    Oh handy to know. Only a part timer but I’ve come close to the limit once or twice (weddings abroad etc).

    However worth pointing out that a lot of them (well the 2 I checked – United and AA) will only do this for national flights only – not international.

    Re card or not – I think it’s safe to assume that if you need that much media kit then you have a valid reason for getting the allowance. I could imagine some carriers may check the accreditation though. Some associations such as NUJ in the UK do allow for temporary membership for those that are not currently full time in the field. NUJ requires recommendation from an existing member.

  • http://www.diyphotography.net/ udi tirosh

    just noticed you changed the picture… so you have a middle name…..

  • rocky

    Traveling is the most intaresting to me and i have many experience on traveling which experience from Apartmani Beograd

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