Preparation is the key to any successful photo trip, especially when you're going somewhere volatile
I recently embarked on a two-week trip to Egypt to photograph the nation’s first democratically held elections and interview those who had actively participated in last year’s revolution, as well as to just enjoy some time outside of the USA. It was my first trip of this kind and of this magnitude and while I didn't have a specific assignment, I did have a few clear goals for my work. I wanted to capture three types of photos portraits, street photography and photojournalism (specifically of the elections and protests that ensued after).
The diversity of the photos I was going for, coupled with the nation’s volatile state (after all, there is no government) meant I needed to plan for anything, both figuratively and from a photographically standpoint. Because I would be moving around the country, and staying in a wide variety of places, I wanted to travel light, but I needed to make sure I had the right gear, as well as back-ups in case something broke. Here's a breakdown of my kit, as well as a list of the stuff I wish I had brough and the gear I wish I had left at home.
What I brought:
This was the primary camera I used during the trip. It is a small camera (compared to the D3), yet has a full-frame sensor that does great in lowlight conditions. I kept this around my neck 95% of the time.
I brought this specifically to sit with my luggage as a backup camera, just in case I had a problem with the D700. I always left it wherever I was staying with an extra card and battery. I did, however end up using it while documenting protests in Tahir Square as a secondary rig with an 85mm lens affixed to it (120 equivalent).
Nikon 24mm f/2.8 D
This was my primary lens and I used it nearly 75% of the time (affixed to the D700). It is one of Nikon’s smallest lenses, making it perfect for moments you want to go unnoticed. The wide focal length gave me plenty of frame to work with, and the D700’s resolution gave me a little more room for cropping. This lens is also great for shooting from the hip in crowded markets and streets.
Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8 D
This is an extremely versatile and sharp piece of glass. However, because of its size, I opted to leave it in the bag in most cases and shoot with the 24mm instead. I did, however use it in some of the more touristee areas when going unnoticed wasn’t a priority.