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What Do Real Estate Photographers Use to Carry Gear?

August 10th, 2017

Pelican1510Tom in Maryland asks:

I am still fairly knew to real estate photography, but I’m gaining experience and buying more gear. I am looking for a good way of carrying all of this gear with me to client locations. I’m using two camera backpacks right now, but there something a little better and more convenient?

I would say the Pelican 1510 is probably the most popular case with real estate photographers because it has rollers, is a hard case and it fits in overhead compartments in airplanes if you ever need to travel. The Pelican 1560 is slightly bigger.

For tripods and light stands, over the shoulder canvas bags are useful.

What are others using?

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16 Responses to “What Do Real Estate Photographers Use to Carry Gear?”

  • I have a cart with a large camera backpack on it. It holds just about everything I could need on any shoot, including two bodies, three lenses, three flashes, a tripod, a couple light stands and two umbrellas and all the other stuff like batteries, cards, remotes. The main thing about the cart is that it has three wheels on each side, making it easy to climb stairs. The first cart I got like this was called “The UpCart” but I don’t recommend it – it is mostly plastic and I destroyed it in 10 days of use. I got a refund and found a similar, all metal cart for actually less money. However, the wheels aren’t as large so it takes a little more effort on stairs.

    This may not seem important unless you are in a metro area with lots of condo and apartment buildings. Try hauling all that gear on your back to a couple three third floor walk-ups every day.

  • I used to carry my gear in an old Tough Traveler bag. the problem was that the bag was always in the shot.
    recently I bought an Eddy Bauer vest. It works like magic. I can put my flash, spare batteries, flash remotes, ETC in the pockets.
    It has saved me many a trip to the bag where ever I left it.
    This has worked fine so far but it can add unwanted heat. I’m thinking of a tool belt approach but have not found the time to look for it.

  • I currently use a backpack for camera, lenses and some camera specific gear, a small hard case for flashes, brackets, tools and other hardware and a long bag for light stands.

    I plan to upgrade to a ThinkTank “Production” case that will hold everything and has wheels. I have a Pelican case that I really don’t use very often since it’s not a major upgrade from my other cases. My big strobe and some light modifiers/cloth are in a cardboard box that usually just lives in the car but I have along in case I need it. I don’t check photo gear on the very rare occasion that I fly and I’ve mostly stopped flying anyway. I’m tired of the thefts and indignities.

  • You can’t beat those Pelican boxes (especially when paired with inserts and lid organizers) But be warned. If you extend the handle and roll it on the wheels, everything inside (although protected by padding) is shaking around.
    I have a speck of dust in the prism of my backup body that I acquired that way.
    My educated guess is it jarred loose from the sticky pad and somehow made its way up to the prism.
    Now I just carry the Box.

  • The Pelican 1510 is nice, and it one of the ones I have. The hardshell case certainly provides the most amount of protection, that’s for sure. But it is heavy.

    I also have some other cases, such as this one: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=lowepro%20pro%20roller%20×200%20aw&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ps

    Personally, I like the softshell roller cases better because a) they weigh less, and b) most of them have an expandable pouch to put in stuff like tripods and light stands.

    If I was going on an African Safari, I’d want the Pelican. But for real estate photograph, I think softshell is the way to go.

  • I use the Pelican 1510 for cameras, lenses, remote triggers etc. and an Easton wheeled bat bag for tripods. The bat bag has a separate compartment that gets used for umbrellas and there is plenty of room in the main compartment for my bag of speed lights. It has worked fairly well so far and bat bags aren’t particularly expensive……did I mention wheels?

  • I think what we do so much depends on how we shoot. If you use flash that requires the flash heads, umbrellas and stands, you will need a lighting case. It’s one of the reasons I like at my advanced age shooting HDR. This allows my to leave most of my equipment in my SUV and just use a small Tamrac shoulder bag when I go in the house or around the grounds. It only needs to carry my telephone lens, spare batteries, remote trigger and lens cleaning cloth. The camera sits on my tripod. This makes it easy and fast to shoot.

    But my lighting equipment (I use continuous lighting these days when I need it which is usually for video) I have an ancient Monolight long case that carries the lighting equipment. I have a Haliburton case that carries my GoPro video equipment and stabilizer along with my spare Canon body and lens with its batteries. It’s a vertical stacking case so I can work out of it without having to lay it on its side. I use a black portable filing box from Stapes for all my clamps, adapters, gaffer’s tapes, staple gun and other useful tools. Then the drone bag. I like to keep my equipment broken into many small bags rather than trying to stuff everything into one large case. At my age, hauling heavy cases is not an option. And by splitting up the different types of equipment allows me to take just what I need into the house when I actually need it.

    I like to keep my equipment as basic and simple as possible. I like to get in and out as quickly as possible but not at the expense of any one shot. So my SUV is loaded up for any eventuality, but I start the shoot carrying the minimum. I have an ancient Banana Republic photojournalists vest but I find in Southern California that it gets too hot for most of the year, but in the winter I often use it. And unlike a shoulder bag, there is little chance of a swinging shoulder bag knocking an antique Ming Dynasty vase to the the floor.

  • I use Bulldog Range Bags, they’re meant for guns, but they work great for camera gear, and they are well built.

    I separate my equipment based on a group per bag for specific tasks:

    I have one for stills, with an A7 and 4 speedlights, and all the little stuff that I might need for interiors.
    -I have a bag for exteriors, with a Samsung NX30 and lenses, and stuff to attach it to a pole. It’s a very light camera, with excellent IQ.
    -Another bag is for video- A7rii, 6D, Nex7, and there’s also bags for sliders, Zhiyun Crane, and all the little bits of kit that go with video.
    -There’s a long sling bag, for a D600 with a Sigma 150-600 on it. Great when wildlife shows up.
    -An exterior night bag, with some LED lights if I need to augment the lighting.
    -And a tripod and stand bag.
    -There are also some other bags that have backup stuff in them, since a lot of this is made in China, so you never know what kind of lifespan it’s going have. Extra speedlight & triggers, for big jobs, and sometimes a speedlight will just crap out for no particular reason.
    -Drone bags

    You get the point, as Mister Miagi might say “Many small bags make light work”. :0) If I’m doing stills, I just walk in with that small bag and the stand bag. If I’m doing a big commercial job where I can get to the car easily, i’ll bring a cart to load with bags. I bought th ecart a Costco years ago, a small 2x3ish platform with a folding handle. The small bags are easy to hide in the hallway in most homes, without getting in the way.

    To tell them apart, I put those colored key rings you can get at a hard ware store on the handles. I know the bags by the color of the tag: yellow for interior, blue for video, green for exterior, etc.

  • I initially had the problem of gear in the photo, where now ask the homeowner where their laundry room is. After their jaw drops with the fear that I will take a photo of their laundry room, advise that is where store gear “out of the way” as rarely take photos of laundry rooms and garages. On the occasion where that area is photo worthy, shoot it first then store the gear after assembly.

    Have a backpack (Lowpro Sport) but it is a combination that supports day hikes so not appropriate for RE work. Also found that the sweaty back it creates will cause a TSA patdown in airports – but is nice for travel as the 15″ MacBook pro will fit in the slot designed for the Camelback hydration bladder. Have considered a Pelican 1510 but resisted, however, wondering if the foam inserts would minimize the wear on camera (black finish rubbing off edges) that experiencing with current setup.

    Current setup – 2 bags over shoulders plus hand carry tripod. Camera bag is Domke (popular with news journalist) canvas with minimal padding reducing bulk of other bags. Has the primary space for camera/lens, then 4 dividers for additional lens and one flash, plus front pocket for extra batteries, flash controller, and even the 70-200 shoe bracket, etc. Then have a round tube shaped lighting bag that holds 2 stands, umbrellas, and 3 speed lights in their own case. Probably could fit the tripod in but would be a tight zip, so just carry it. Other stuff, typically video and the pole/platform remain in the car.

  • Worth every penny. Pursue good stuff: http://www.lightwareinc.com/site/pdfs/RC1038.pdf

  • We are Think Tank Affiliates for our local ASMP chapter and the school we teach at. We highly recommend them. Anyone interested in Think Tank and a more personal buying experience can contact me – info in Larry’s coaching section. We do a little free analysis of your gear and what you need to be thinking about for moving around a job.

  • I use a ThinkTank Airport International roller bag for several years now. My kit consists of 2 Nikon bodies (1 is for backup) with 70-200, 24-70 and 16-35, 5 flashes fitted with Yongnuo triggers ready for off-camra use (so I don’t have to assemble them when I need them). There are also a few other smaller items like a laser meter for floor plans, pouch with memory cards, spare batteries for everything in my kit. I also carry and additional (longer, soft, cheap) bag with my tripod and 2 smaller, lightweight tripods that I use as light stands for the flashes. The ThinkTank roller bag is heavy with all the gear, but it being a roller bag it is not too heavy to cart along, except up stairs, which I’m coping with. If it is a multi level home or apartment, I usually keep my bags on the ground level or maybe only 1 flight of stairs, rarely more than that. At a photoshoot I also ask for the laundry room, maybe a seperate toilet or the garage (if it has internal access) where I keep my roller bag and tripod bag and where I do my setup. Otherwise I find a spot in a hallway or sometimes I shoot one of the bedrooms first and then move my bags there.

    What I like most of the ThinkTank roller bag is that I can easily check that all my gear is back in the bag before I leave the property at the end of a shoot. It is easy to spot an empty compartment. One word of advice with the roller bag is to ensure you zip the lid up once you have taken out what you need. Do not close the lid and leave it unzipped. I had cases where the vendor or realtor wanted to move my bag for some reason and don’t realise it is unzipped (with lid closed) with some of the expensive lenses or flashes falling out when they pick it up. In my case luckily no damage!! On another occasion a young child sneaked into the room where I kept my bag and found some very expensive toys to unpack, which nearly gave me a heart attack when discovered. Lesson learned!! My rule is now if the lid is not open, keep it zipped up.

  • Are all of you really still carrying that much gear and shooting on tripods? Ugh.

  • I should add that I’m very impressed with the dedication and skill that many of you exemplify. All that gear and carrying hurts my shoulder just reading about it, lol.

  • @Dean Francis, Yes, I am carrying all of that gear and shooting on a tripod. I never know what a home is going to look like and what issues I may have until I arrive. I often composite images, so a tripod is absolutely needed. I use supplemental lighting for the vast majority of my images. There are some photographers that have developed a workflow without lighting and “run & gunners” that do an adequate job, but my goal is to always keep improving my images and upping the price point of the homes I get asked to photograph (and my fee). I use the least amount of gear to get the image I want, but I’m not shy about using every flash, strobe and light modifier I have with me if necessary. So far, I haven’t come up with any methodology gives me very good images without lighting and a tripod.

  • Hey Ken, thanks for sharing! Have you tried using a stabilized lens with higher ISOs?

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