Since I’m a festival shooting novice, I spared no expense when preparing my gear. After shooting Rock the Garden I took serious inventory. The 18-35, while a phenomenal lens, was just not going to cut it. There wasn’t enough range. I considered renting the Canon 24-70 2.8 lens, because from what I’ve heard, it’s a great lens with versatility. I was dissuaded from that and ultimately opted to go with the 70-200 for *sick* range (and, that image stabilization is no joke. It’s just, ugh, it’s such a good lens). I also thought, maybe, in a high pressure environment, over a weekend where I will be camping, having a spare camera would go along way. And this way, I could be equipped with two different focal lengths and instantly change from one to the other. I did some research on ishootshows.com to see what a bonafide concert shooter has in his bag, and I got to work. It was pricy to equip myself properly, but I also felt totally confident in what I had, and that absolutely nothing would deter me. I rented a second 70D so I would know exactly what I was working with. Two batteries for each camera (just in case, though I never needed to tap into the second batteries for either), a ton of memory cards (in my main camera, I used the 128 all weekend [note: that should be 128 GIGS, not MEGS], and the 16 and 32, respectively, in the rental). The Double Rig was a hesitant purchase because I do not own two cameras regularly, however, it’s adaptable to be turned into a single cross-body strap, which is great if you hate the neck strap set up normally (which I do, immensely). Good earplugs are a must in the pit. You gotta be focused and you’re going to want to get up next to some giant speakers at some point. I brought the 50mm 1.8 with me to Wisconsin, but ultimately left it behind because I didn’t think it’d be worth it to try to change up lenses in the pit. I do wish I’d had something midrange though. That is a significant gap between 35 and 70mm. And lastly, a good bag is important, because I did have to carry all this stuff with me. The Topo Field Bag is a great bag with lots of pockets, though I think they’re lying in those photos about a body and 70-200 lens lying comfortably in it. I don’t think I was able to get that kind of fit. Although, the bag was stuffed.
Additional items I had with me were a water bottle (you MUST stay hydrated at these things), a couple rainsleeves (it was supposed to rain all day Saturday!), a notebook, a lens blower and lens cleaning cloth.
My wonderful husband was also there, and he helped me bring my gear into the festival this weekend (in his lumbar pack, which easily fit the telephoto lens) and held my bag when it became too overwhelming for me. He also got me water when I needed it, and beer when I really needed it, and he stood in line for food when I couldn’t. So, my recommendation for festival shooters is that you get an amazing, selfless husband who will do whatever in order for you to do your job right. Alan, you’re my hero!As far as festival wear goes, comfortable shoes designed for walking (and socks) were a must (and my feet didn’t bother me hardly at all, except I still got a blister somehow! Good thing there were first aid stations everywhere), a light, flowy t-shirt, since you’ll have a bunch of straps on you all day. Light, breathable shorts with ample pocket room. These are key. The only other shorts I had were either denim or running shorts. These were perfect for comfort, BUT… I had some gnarly chafing on my thighs, and that was a major buzzkill. Bring some gold bond, or anti-chafing cream. I used baby powder the second day and it worked in a pinch. Lastly, in case of rain, a rain jacket. You still have to shoot, even in the rain, so you might as well be as dry as possible. I’m grateful it didn’t rain at Eaux Claires, because if I’m being totally honest, I don’t love that rain jacket. I’m thinking I might try to find a better, more breathable one.
Basically, if you’re shooting a music festival, especially in the woods, treat it like a hiking trip. It’s the same thing, really.
This post is sponsored by Canon and Columbia. Just kidding.