Preparing For Packing and Security During The Planning of Your Location Shoot.
In part one we covered the basic first steps of planning your on location photo shoot from booking models, health concerns, picking your team and your shoot sheets.
In part two we discussed a lot of the things you need for traveling.
What and How to Pack Your Camera Gear
I suspect this does not mean you’ll be able to get away with a fully loaded backpack or photography vest coming on board along with your designated carry on, so plan accordingly with a contingency. That may mean that you will either need to check your gear in something a bit more secure (a good Pelican case is my recommendation), or be able to fit all in one carry on and a “briefcase”.
Be prepared to have it “dump searched” to make sure it does what you say it does. I’m told they will treat it as a laptop and need to see it before they’ll pass it through. Again, plan for a contingency, as this is all still being defined.
The FAA tells me that you can still request a hand search of your film if you’re unfortunate enough to still be using film, but it will be at the screener’s discretion, and based on how crowded it is at the screening post.
So my advice is to ask for the hand search, but don’t get bent if they make you run it through the gate scanner. I personally use 2 different pieces of carry on luggage, depending on what camera kit I take.
I have learned (the hard way) that if you’re going anywhere, have an extra change of clothes and an overnight kit with you in your carry on luggage. When we went to Egypt, our luggage was delayed by 2 days, after a day and a half it took to get there.
You can’t always just run out and buy more clothes in downtown Cairo, because that option really may not be available. So, do be aware that you can get half way around the world and not have a thing to wear but the clothes on your back.
The same goes for your cameras, prescription and other valuables. I encourage you to keep those things on your person or in your carry on or personal items at all times.
Your Cell Phone And Traveling
A member of my team, had an interesting experience with her cell phone while traveling to the Bahamas: “My cell phone bill came today. The Bahamas trip cost $144 in roaming fees.”
The interesting thing about this is that the phone was turned off for nearly the entire time that it was in the Bahamas and didn’t make or receive a single call.
When she settled in at the first hotel, she noticed that no service was available. To save the battery, the phone was turned off. Once or twice at other islands, it had been switched on to see if service was available, and once or twice it was, but it turned the phone off afterwards.
So the Mobile system knew that we were in the Bahamas, but the phone never rang and no calls were ever connected. Nonetheless, they billed $3 for every incoming call that anyone attempted to make during that time and then another $3 as a “voicemail fee” for the person talking to their voicemail system.
If the person leaving the message was longer-winded, and spoke for two minutes, the total charge for the call would be $12.00. One interesting note is that when they checked their voicemail, there were only 5 messages, yet the mobile company charged for 21 inbound interactions with their voicemail system (at either $3 or $6 per interaction).
Some mobile companies have in the fine print in their service agreement a clause which allows them to bill customers for international roaming charges even when a phone call is not answered and even when the handset is powered off.
As soon as your handset registers itself on a foreign network, your cell provider may be free to assess roaming charges that are typically about $3 per minute. Because of the way that they account for an unanswered call going to voicemail, you will pay $6 for each unanswered call.
Apple iPhone customers should also be cautious about taking their phones overseas unless they have negotiated an international data services plan with their carrier. The iPhone will make periodic data connections to check for email.
U.S. carriers have been known to bill their customers literally thousands of dollars in roaming charges during two-week European trips. Thankfully this is largely a thing of the past with Wi-Fi calling as well as the ability to use Wi-Fi to text etc.
However; check with your carrier to make sure that you aren’t going to be charged for taking your phone overseas. For some carriers you will need to get a new sim card for your phone to function in different countries without roaming charges.
SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY!
From our neighbors to the north or across the world on any of the other continents we may be fortunate enough to visit we must remain mindful that bad things do happen to good people.
Bad things that unfortunately could have in most cases probably been avoided! I am going to approach this from the standpoint that you aren’t some state department lackey or a special operations soldier, or C.I.A operative.
If you are, for your sake don’t get caught. Keep in mind that in some countries pointing your camera lens in the wrong direction can get you detained and questioned in ways you don’t wish to think about! That leads me to the bulk of the security discussion. And this is much from my personal experience!
In predominately Islamic countries (Not that you should ever be trying to shoot female models in an Islamic country), be EXTREMELY careful to know the local religious customs and beliefs, and respect those beliefs in your photographic approach.
Almost universal taboos include photographing Islamic women, and anything that could be remotely construed as a site of national security. TRUST me when I say that you do NOT want to have to deal with security in some Islamic countries.
Remember; you are not in your home country and not in The United States of America. You do NOT have the right to a fair trial, or silence, or a lawyer. So plan accordingly and wisely.Contrary to Hollywood, you are NOT important enough for the U.S. Government to send Delta Force, or SeAL 6 after you. Ask around, or check with your hotel, about a good guide and pay him or her well. A good guide will be as instrumental in getting good pictures as your technique. Be generous to a fault in tipping, but don’t flash a lot of cash or valuables around.
It is important to realize that your high end camera probably costs more than many in a third world country make in year. Same thing with your high-dollar watch, rings and other jewelry. Probably best to leave these items home depending where you’re going.
Being sensitive to this means being careful to not flaunt a level of wealth that would invite ill feelings or criticism, or worse. I should cover some things about your personal security, now more than ever. It’s real easy to be completely enthralled by the grandeur and splendor of some of the world’s wonders.
That is precisely what a thief counts on when walking off with your bag or camera. Simply being aware of your surroundings, and being a bit more careful about what you are doing, is the best and least expensive way to protect yourself and your gear.
I would also recommend you place your equipment either in the provided hotel room safe when not in use, or locked back up in your luggage while out of your hotel room. After all; out of sight, out of mind.
Remember your personal safety, and that of your team is of primary concern.
While this does not mean we should all become hermits, it does mean that we MUST be both diligent and sensitive wherever and whenever we travel, especially abroad, and very especially throughout the Middle East and neighboring Islamic countries.
Do NOT depend on our government to be everywhere you go, as this is an unreasonable expectation. But being informed and prepared will do more to guarantee your safety than anything else. And finally, understand that you’re a visitor in their country, not the owner.
Being polite and respectful makes everyone that much more aware of how much we all have in common, rather than accentuating our differences. It is also wise to be aware that sometimes the vendors are just trying to make a living.
Although they may be annoying (haggling is an art form and a source of immense pride and enjoyment in many of the places you’ll visit), it’s all part of the game that’s played out on a daily basis. As long as your money doesn’t come out of the pocket it’s in, there’s no point in getting or being upset over any exchange that might be taken to be anything other than it should be; part of that game.
Remember, by keeping your eyes and ears open, you can make a trip of a lifetime just that! I hope that these three articles have helped you become excited for your location shoots abroad.
Please keep in mind that this is all based on my personal experience and your mileage may vary. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.