24 Sep 2013

Preparing of a photo trip - make photo bag inventory

Going for a holidays where photography will be substantial part of it is exciting. It should be. On the other hand it is important (at least to me) that the excitement makes at the certain moment some place for the cool-headed preparation of the trip. It should be moment before holidays when one decides which camera body (or bodies), which lenses and accessories to take. It can be sometimes tough choice, limited by the size of carried baggage, its weight, comfort of travel on one side and the type of planned photography on the other. Making choices is probably a topic of another blog post.
It doesn't matter how big (or small) your photo bag would be, it is always very good idea to know what you carry. Why? Think about some scenarios:
- You get robbed. Exact description of stolen goods to the police and your insurance company will simplify the procedures,
- In all excitement you simply lose some accessoires. Knowing the types of it helps to find replacement quickly,
- Having everything organized in and outside your bag will help to make a critical decision about necessity of all kind of equipment.

Visual inventory

One of the most efficient methods of making an inventory is lay all equipment on a table and take a photo of it. I do it in two steps: first I take a photo of all equipment I have, then I remove the parts that I leave at home. An example of such photos could look something like this (parts of the images are blurred purposely):
Full equipment inventory 
Bag equipment inventory
Before taking the photo I group the items logically (keeping lenses separate from bodies, cleaning accessories in the separate group, cables clustered together, etc.)

Textual inventory

Even the best photo is not good enough in case of theft or damage. You'll need also a list of serial numbers of the lenses, bodies, speedlights and other valuable items that you carry. So next to the visual inventory I also make a spreadsheet containing names of the item, its serial number, insurance information (if any), additional information on warranty issuer and some photo numbers, if applicable.

Inventory storage

Since inventory is made "just in case" of unexpected things happen, it is important to store it properly and safely. I store both carbon and digital copies of them in several places:
- I take carbon copies with me when travelling. It is stored together with other travel documents. Another copy is stored at home,
- I make several digital copies: one is stored on my laptop, another on the external hard drive, yet another in my "cloud service" (I use Google drive for this purpose).