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 first installment I’m going to look specifically at a day on Cross Country. That’s everything from a hunter trial through to this particular element of horse trials.
As ever I’d say to all budding freelancers, check with the company you are working for if they have any specific kit requirements from you well in advance. If you don’t have it, then by asking in advance you create time for yourself to resolve it or make them aware so they can make allowances for it etc.
Depending on the course itself you’ll generally find that you will be able to take a vehicle onto the course. If this is the case, it’s a godsend in my opinion. There are very few courses I’ve worked at that don’t allow this and you’ll find that all Fence Judges have a vehicle and of course there’s always a range of official vehicles going round throughout the day.
Now, be warned, not all courses are vehicle ‘friendly’! 4×4’s are generally fine but I’d be cautious about small cars or those with little ground clearance, expect to find mud, ruts and hidden dips! If you are worried, check first, you really REALLY don’t want to be the noob being recovered out on course…
Goes without saying (least I hope…!) that if you aren’t there working for the onsite Official Event Photographer then please don’t even consider that you can take your car on course!
Being able to take your car means you don’t have to lug around your kit on your back, and you’ve got access to shelter (wind/rain or sun). Quite simply you can throw the kitchen sink in the car and use what you need to make your life more comfortable.
So, what do I take?
* Nikon D3s Body & 70-200m f2.8 lens
* Spare Nikon body
* Shorter zoom lens
* Spares Camera batteries
* Spare CF / SD cards
* Waterproof camera cover
* Chamois leather / Lens wipes
My Nikon D3s is my freelance specific work horse! It’s getting a little long in the tooth now and ready to be replaced with either the D4s or D5 but it’s served me well for a number of years now.
The 70-200 f2.8 lens is the go-to lens for most of us. Some will use a much bigger lens or a converter but that’s mostly just the media to give them range. You are generally covering just one fence, sometimes 2 if they are close together for each class. There are times when space is limited at a fence you’ve been assigned, so a wide can come in handy.
I’ve normally got 2-3 spare, fully charged, batteries with me and a load of spare data cards. Some companies will supply you with cards to use during that day, many don’t so be prepared. I’ve normally got at least 10-12 of my own these days.
* Spare clothing – warm stuff, windproof stuff, and waterproof stuff.
* MacWet Gloves
* A chair or stool
* Water bottle
* Sun Cream & Midge spray (!)
* Wet wipes & toilet roll ☺
Investing in good quality wet weather gear is important. Get yourself some over trousers as well as a good coat of a decent length. Hats play a big part for me; I’m rarely without one. Waterproof wide brimmed, beanie or Fedora is generally my choice, but whatever helps shield you from the sun or rain. XC courses frequently have the knack of being on the side of a hill where the wind will whip through you even on a sunny day. You’ve got the space, so take layers, you’ll thank me for this one day… The images above were all taken on the same day, yes, really… one fence in hot hot sun, but by the afternoon in another class it was belting it down! You are often given a branded coat/gilet etc from the company you are working for, but don’t rely just on that one alone. I’ve got a blanket for my knees (such a granny) or to perch on too to help prevent a numb bum. Food wise, remember you could be on course from 8am till 8pm in summer so keep yourself hydrated and fed. You can laugh, but I also always have tissues with me – those Tardis toilets on XC regularly let you down on that front!
Whether you’ll have time to actually visit a Tardis during your day is another matter entirely…
So that’s the basics really – over time you’ll accumulate lots of random stuff that makes your own personal day easier. Such a black spaniel… he’s definitely random and always with me on XC days… with his own kit too!
Have a fabulous week!
Image from Barbury International courtesy of Point-Two / Julian Portch