I often get asked what I bring on tour, what do i shoot with, what do I use on a daily basis so I thought i'd put together my tour essentials. This doesn't include my clothing but this is everything i carry inside my photography backpack.
I have always hated beats but I can't deny I love their sound. I've tried every speaker available at Target and Best Buy and my friends and I agreed, the pill was the soundest and best sounding. This thing is loud, clear, and much more portable than most. I always bring this to play music in the green room, the bus, or if we have an off day at the beach.
Beats Studio Wired
Another beats product I love are the Studio Wired headphones. I've had mine for about 4 years now and the only problem I have now are the ear pads are deteriorating. These were the first thing I ever got from beats and they were free. It definitely changed my perspective on the quality of Beats. They are certainly overpriced. Otherwise they still sound amazing. I'm looking at getting a new pair this year but waiting for Apple to announce the new iPhone that may or may not have an iPhone headphone jack. If it doesn't then I need to get the bluetooth but for now, i love my wired because i don't need to worry about bluetooth and syncing.
The biggest advantage with these are the noise canceling. I wear these on every flight and have no problem with screaming babies.
These are by far my favorite headphones for working out. First off they are wireless so I don't deal with the annoying struggle of yanking them out of my ears. Secondly its bluetooth so I can connect with my Apple watch and never have to run with my phone again. I bought mine used and I've had 0 problems with them, even with sweating like crazy.
Canon 5d Mark iii with 24-105 f4
This camera and lens is my baby. I shoot everything with it when I can. I also own a RED Dragon for film work but all photography is with this unless I use my iPhone or shoot film . The 24-104 is a great all around L series lens. It's full frame, has an f4 throughout, has IS (Image Stabilizer) and had a great range. Downside it's only a f4 but still great with the lower light capabilities of the mark iii.
Canon 16-35 f2.8
Now this lens I just picked up last tour. I tried to go cheap with the 11-16 Tokina which is a great lens but theres not many focus points on it and its fisheyes anything lower than 15mm. This is great all the way around and is a fast f2.8. This is great for wide crowd shots but i also love it in the pit. It gives a cool perspective when you get really close to something or someone but can distort in an unflattering way.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM Lens
The link is for the version that has IS or image stabilizer which I do not have. That lens is about 1k more than the model I have but still a sharp and fast lens at a 2.8. I use this for all my close up or shots from out where the crowd is. It helps me get shots from the front of the venue so I'm not looking straight up someone's nose from the pit. I can also get some details at 200mm. The thing with concert photography is i should never or rarely be on stage near the artist. Especially with Logic having big LED walls that will highlight me, i need to stay off to the side and this helps me still get the shot.
Canon 35m f1.4 L
This lens is extremely fast and sharper than any other lens i have. When ever their is no light or i just want everything behind my subject to be out of focus I use this lens. I don't typically use this lens during concerts because zooms are better because you can change focal lenths in seconds. I do however use this before shows, hanging on the bus, or in dark situations.
Lexar Card Reader
Now I personally don't currently use the card reader linked because my Macbook Pro has a sd card reader built in so I only need a CF reader. I do however own a few different models. The current one I use is still a lexar cf reader and all are USB 3.0 because those fast speeds are needed in crunch time.
SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB
The speeds on the CF cards are very important for concert or sports shooting. Mainly because of burst shooting. I can shoot action sports of my 5d Mark iii but if my cards aren't fast enough it will lang and have to process the images. I've used slower cards in the past and I always get screwed while shooting. Especially with shooting someone as energetic as Logic who moves all over the stage constantly. I also use CF cards vs SD cards because they are bigger and there is much less chance I will lose them. They also work for a Canon 300 and many other cameras.
Canon 600EX Speedlite
I've never been a huge fan of direct spot light but this does give a good look. I especially like dropping down the lens to spread the light to 14mm. This allows me to get some more stylized portraits without parts being too bright or dark. I dropped mine at the Under Pressure album release party in NY so mine has tape on it but still works fine.
I personally like to use Kodak but I can't always find them so I settle for Fuji. The reason I like kodak more is because you can do in camera double exposure which is fun to mess around with and do in camera. Its also just nice to shoot some easy film on a camera I don't have to worry about getting damaged. Hence the disposable part.
Canon EOS Elan II Film Camera
This is my current go to film camera because it is has an EF mount which means I can use my 5D Mark iii Canon Lenses on it. Mine sadly broke a little so i have to tape it up to make sure the film doesn't get exposed but I love it. It also has an on board flash which is great for shooting portraits in the dark.
There is something about film that just looks so great and raw. It's not digital so it has texture and the world can affect it unlike digital. You get what you shoot so its very authentic. It also gives great texture to skin. There are great programs that can make your digital cameras look very similar but its just a great feeling to take in rolls to get processed and have no clue what you're going to get back. I also shoot on my polaroid camera which gives a whole other type of feeling.
LaCie Rugged 2tb Thunderbolt
These have to be my favorite hard drives I've ever used. I use these for every tour, every commercials, music video, you name it. As the name implies they are rugged and are beautifully designed. The newer models include the thunderbolt cable built into the case but also allows a usb 3.0 connection This is a must for video or photos because they are the fastest speeds possible. I generally cary 2-3 with me on a tour depends on what i'm doing and length of the tour.
Macbook Pro Retina 1tb
This computer is a must for creatives doing photo or video. First get the biggest hard drive and ram you can afford. The retina model is not upgradable sadly so get what you want when you order. I personally recommend going through the student section of the Apple store for discounts. The retina aspect is key for photo editing and 4k editing. Everything is very sharp and anything other than this is a disappointment. I also recommend getting Apple care incase the motherboard, hard drive, or something goes out. It doesn't usually happen but if their is a malfunction having the protection is a lifesaver. You could get a PC but almost every creative I know owns a Mac and going between the systems isn't the smoothest.
Apple Watch 42mm Stainless Steel
Even though this device is very generation 1 I bought it for 2 reasons and it performs those tasks flawlessly. First was to keep track of my fitness and get me back in shape. My constantly being reminded where I'm at in my day has helped me focus on what i need to do. It also helps getting my notifications on my wrist so I don't miss urgent calls or group texts. There have been many times this was the difference in capture a moment or not.
The phone that almost creative person has. Everyone on our bus has an iPhone and it screws up our group chat when someone doesn't. Its perfect on tour having iMessage for our hilarious group chats. I have the 64gb version so I can fit all the music and movies I want. That is essential for traveling.
Nick Mahar is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles & San Francisco.