In this series I look at the essential items I believe you should take with you to make your day as a freelance equine event photographer go much smoother. In each discipline many of the components of your will be the same, but there are some differences too, both on a professional and personal level.
In this second installment, it’s all about Show Jumping.
Show jumping, whether it’s a phase in horse trials or a stand-alone discipline, is a long day on your feet. You will be walking a lot so you probably don’t want to be carrying a lot of kit directly on you but you will need reasonable access to your equipment.
As with the previous instalment based on a day of Cross Country photography (which can be found here) I remind you to check well in advance with the company you’ll be working for at this event and ask if they have any specific kit requirements so you can advise them accordingly of your situation.
Remember this blog is just about kit needs. I’ll go more into what to expect, what to shoot and what not to shoot in another blog.
I’ve said it before but the 70-200 f2.8 lens is the main lens you’ll use during your time in this sector of photography. Obviously, you don’t need to purchase the same brand as your camera body, there are less expensive brands out there that will be compatible with your camera brand and in the eyes of plenty of photographers are every bit as good.
A solid monopod is a really good option for a day of show jumping. It helps your back and shoulders – you really don’t know just how heavy your camera and lens can be until 8hours of raising and lowering your camera to take shots! Some people are fine, I’ll happily go without a monopod for the odd class but generally, it’s in full use and I love my SLIK 350 monopod but there’s a lot of love out there for other brands such as Manfrotto. Whatever you go for making sure it’s capable of carrying the weight of your camera & lens easily – the last thing you needs is £5k dropping to the floor as a monopod fails! Rain covers are available in a wide variety of formats and costs.
Many of my colleagues go for the lower price end options and really get on with them, leaving them on in between showers. My personal choice is to have something that can be put on and taken off quickly and easily so I can take advantage of breaks in the weather, so my rain cover is one specifically from Nikon, although I have an equally great one from Think Tank too see here. The less expensive ones are great value at just a few pounds really. I tend to end up sticking a clumsy finger through them though and don’t like them with monopods. The Nikon or Think Tank versions are well over £100, but for me they are highly flexible and have added benefits of keeping my hands a bit dryer too 😉
If you don’t like monopods then I would recommend looking into getting a decent sling. Carrying your camera around with just your hand on the grip is fine for a while but you’ll soon probably find your hand starting to ache (or maybe that’s my middle age aches just showing!) So I opt to use a Black Rapid when a sling is called for. I have the Sport which is a lightweight cross body sling, perfect for one camera which is all you need. I think mine is also one of their slimmer versions which makes it a great option for the female form as its tailored more to our shape. However, I’ve also used the regular shaped Sport one too without worry.
Like the rain covers mentioned earlier this specific brand can be viewed a bit pricey and you’ll be needing some extra accessories to fit your camera to it safely. However, there are plenty of alternatives out there for you to consider and to suit your budget. I find the Black Rapids to be incredibly comfortable and reliable and I really do want reliability from my kit. Whatever it is, it really needs to perform without concern or me even thinking about it so I can concentrate fully on my viewfinder moments!
As ever, keep additional fully charged batteries and data cards to hand too. A battery that has been kept close to your body retains its charge better than one stuck in a box somewhere…
* Spare clothing – warm stuff, windproof stuff and waterproof stuff.
* Ariat Grassmere boots or Meindl trail shoes
* MacWet gloves
* Water bottle
* Sun Cream
I’ve always got a bottle of water in my kit bag and some easy to eat nibbles I can discreetly snack on, such as boiled sweets, a banana or flapjack style bar. There are often short breaks between classes whilst courses are adjusted, so take the time between classes to make sure your lens is clean and your batteries are OK and to grab something more substantial eat or drink.
We covered this before but investing in good quality wet weather gear is important. You really need solid and comfortable footwear for show jumping. You could be on grass that’s wet or you could be on a surface that has a habit of getting down your boots. This isn’t a fashion show, get something that fits (all day long, don’t forget everyone’s feet swell up to ½ a size during the day) and that you can walk around in all day. For me, it’s either my Ariat Grassmeres or my waterproof lightweight trail shoes, a great lightweight option for warmer/drier days.
So that’s my kit bag specifically for show jumping, the basic kit is the same, but you just have to be mindful that you are on your feet and having safe access to your kit throughout the day might not be possible, so take the essentials and know your all your kit will perform…
Have a fabulous week!