- Buyer's Guide
Packing List :: Surf Photographer
Wherever Todd Glaser roams, you can be sure a camera is always within easy reach. Based in San Diego, Todd's work has taken him to remote surf spots all over the world. As an Incase ambassador and staff photographer for Surfer Magazine, Todd has photographed some of the biggest names in surfing and some of the world's most famous and dangerous waves.
Featured in the 2010 release "Surfer Magazine: Fifty Years," he was awarded a Follow The Light Foundation grant in 2008 and won 2009 Surfer Magazine Photo of the Year. Most recently his image of Kelly Slater was inducted into the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
As someone who has to carry a variety of camera gear safely and effectively, we asked him to turn his focus from waves to carry by sharing his packing list...
Packing for a trip is never easy. Depending on where we're going and for how long can determine how much gear I need to bring and how much gear can be rented while on location. Take New York for example, they have more camera gear stores and rental houses in a few square miles than most of Southern California has put together. Travelling to a location a bit more remote makes it much more important to have all of the gear you need and backups just in case something goes wrong.
"Depending on where we're going and for how long can determine how much gear I need to bring and how much gear can be rented while on location."
As a surf photographer I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time on the road in far-off parts of the world. When challenged with the chance to show my gear it took me a while to figure out what to show. In this image you will see my base travel kit. Everything you see here is almost always on me as a carry-on so if none of my bags make it I am still able to shoot and know that my gear is there safely and organized.
"Travelling to a location a bit more remote makes it much more important to have all of the gear you need and backups just in case something goes wrong."
Starting from the bottom left:
I usually travel with a couple of these. They are perfect for keeping all of my cables and wires organized, chargers in one place, batteries, card readers, and other knick-knacks. I’ve found they hold 12 rolls of 35mm film perfectly too.
Leica M6 with 35mm lens and Incase neck strap
This is my coffee drinking camera. I don’t leave home without it. It’s small, unobtrusive, quiet and takes incredible images. As you can see in the photo, I bring a lot of camera gear when I travel which can be heavy and intimidating to whomever I am travelling with. By bringing this camera as my around-the-town camera it draws a lot less attention than some of my other cameras and usually slides under the radar unlike some other cameras.
Canon 500mm lens
This is the lens that works great when shooting from land or if you want to shoot really tight from a boat. It’s heavy, it takes up a lot of space, but fits perfectly into my DSLR bag. I’ve got the camo on there to protect the lens from salt, but it stands out like a sore thumb. This lens has been to more places than any other piece of equipment in this image besides my passport and housing.
Canon 135mm lens
This is the newest addition to my lens quiver. It’s one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used, relatively small, lightweight, and fits into the same port as the 24-70mm lens which means one less port to travel with. You can cheat it as a macro due to its close focusing distance and shallow depth of field.
Canon 24-70mm lens
This lens does everything. It’s moderately wide to short telephoto. If I had to choose one lens for an entire trip this would be the one. The ring that you see around the zoom is so I can zoom in and out while shooting with it in a water housing. For a long time, I shot all prime lenses which was really nice and helped create a consistent aesthetic, but any time I can consolidate my gear it makes it easier to travel lightly.
This wallet is great, it holds all of my CF and SD cards in one place. Staying organized is essential when travelling with those little cards. They can be easy to lose.
We made this port for my 24-70mm lens. Like I said earlier, it is the most versatile lens in my quiver and is still relatively small to travel with. The 135mm f/2 fits in the port as well which is really nice. Between a fisheye, a 24-70mm and a 135mm, I’ve got three lenses, two ports, and just about every focal length needed to shoot from a boat and in the water.
Del Mar water housing with Canon 1DX and 8-15mm fisheye
We made this housing eight years ago and it is still going strong. It was made for the Canon 1D Mark II, than adjusted for the 1D Mark IV, and now fits my 1DX. This housing has been everywhere with me. It’s made out of carbon fiber - light, strong, and most importantly keeps my camera dry. The 1DX is excellent; it shoots at a fast frame rate and has an incredibly powerful autofocus system in addition to producing very high-quality images.
"This housing has been everywhere with me. It’s made out of carbon fiber - light, strong, and most importantly keeps my camera dry."
For how small these little cameras are, they certainly can do a lot. For the past few years I’ve put one on my housing when shooting with a wide-angle to shoot a bit of video. That little guy can shoot 120 fps at 1080 which looks pretty amazing for web videos.
Airplane tickets, frequent flyer cards, passport, money, receipts, are all kept organized and in one place in here. It’s much better than putting them in my pockets and wondering where they are when needed.
Don’t leave home without it. This book got filled up in the first three years of having it so I had to get double pages added. Some countries need a full page for their Visas and without space, no entry.
External Hard Drive
A good friend once told me “Don’t be a jerk, save your work!” I travel with two to four of these at all times to make sure I have multiple backups of whatever shoot I am working on at the time and another one with selects from recent shoots on a different drive just in case a client needs hi-res files from a previous shoot.
"A good friend once told me “Don’t be a jerk, save your work!”"
Incase Portable Power 2500 with iPhone cable
This is a lifesaver when travelling. My phone is my calendar, connection to the outside world, and usually holds all the details to wherever we are going. If my phone runs out of battery it’s not too good. This little power pack keeps me charged when I’m nowhere near a wall charger. It comes in handy especially in places like Baja or out on a boat when I need a charge.
"This little power pack keeps me charged when I’m nowhere near a wall charger."
iPhone 5s with case
This phone is bulletproof. It’s been dropped, sunk, dunked, dripping wet, but hasn’t cracked yet. I try not to spend too much time on the phone, but this thing sure is handy when you need to keep in touch or book a last-minute ticket somewhere.
13'' MacBook Air by Apple
This is my office away from office when on the road. It’s small, lightweight, and plenty powerful enough to handle all of my files, stay connected with Wi-Fi, and watch movies when the jetlag kicks in and you’re up in the middle of the night.
"This is my office away from office when on the road."
This pack changed the way I travel. It’s sleek, lightweight, organized, durable, holds all of my gear safely, and the best part about it is that it doesn’t look like a camera bag. When travelling with a lot of expensive camera gear it’s easy to look like you have a lot of expensive camera gear or look like you’re going hiking for a week. My go-to setup with this bag is my 500mm lens, a 135mm or 70-200mm, a camera body with the 24-70mm lens attached, with an assortment of chargers, batteries, lens tissues, hard drives, a laptop, film, and a flash.
"This pack changed the way I travel. It’s sleek, lightweight, organized, durable, holds all of my gear safely, and the best part about it is that it doesn’t look like a camera bag."
It’s not uncommon for us to get the first boat out in the morning and not come in until dark. Staying hydrated and fueled with food is essential. Sometimes water just doesn’t cut it. Kelly and his team came up with this formula that combines minerals and salts to keep you hydrated so we can be in the water all day. It’s a must when water just won’t cut it.
"It’s not uncommon for us to get the first boat out in the morning and not come in until dark. Staying hydrated and fueled with food is essential."
Don’t leave home without them. Music, movies, and most podcasts recently keep me entertained for hours while on flights or on the boat. Joe Rogan and Rich Roll are the two I listen to the most.
Great for writing down notes, ideas, shot lists, storyboards, collecting scrap wrappers with neat art, and doodling. These guys take up hardly any space and are always good to have around.
USB 3 universal card reader. I usually have two of these with me in case one goes out. They’re essential for downloading images at the end of the day.
This always comes to Fiji for sun protection and to keep the core warm during the long sessions in the water.
Lightweight, comfortable, quick drying, sustainably created, made out of recycled fishnets, and they sit above my knees which believe it or not is hard to find when you’re 5'6.
I love these fins, they are the most comfortable fins I have ever worn and I’ve tried all of them. Some have more power, but hurt your feet after swimming for an hour or two. I’ve swam in these for eight hours straight and never had a problem or cramp.