Packing Quick ‘n’ Dirty

Scott uploaded this vid to my Facebook page from the Karl Strauss brewery at LAX and it quickly got over 100 comments/likes in about 15 hours. Since questions poured in from there and twitter, I thought I’d chuck the vid up here and scramble to answer some of those questions over a wimpy cappuccino here in the Air New Zealand lounge before running to our next legs to Christchurch and onto Queenstown.

Some of your questions in/around packing:

Any special luggage arrangement w/ United?
Insurance coverage of photo gear?
What if one bag’s missing at arrival?

_No special arrangements. That’s what I was trying to get across in the video. Normally we use a shipping expeditor or ship gear as freight, but we were on too short a timeline to do either. Hence, the pain in the ass “gangster method” (hoping not to offend any gangsters who have tuned in…). In this method our goal is to…[click the ‘continue reading’ link below…for more answers and a few snapshots]

trim down our gear to as few bags as we can and put all our camera bags and cases inside duffel cases so they don’t look like nice camera gear, and instead pass as beat up luggage. What we can’t get to our location via this method, we will have our NZ producer rent it. Monitors, lighting, extra glass, etc.

Since Scott, Kate and I all have elite status on United, we can each take 3 bags up to 70lbs. One back of clothes each, leaves us with the capacity to carry 2 bags packed with gear, or about 450lbs of gear total without extra charge. We use pelican cases or just the LowePro bags l to house the gear and then drop that into duffels lined with shoes and jackets for extra protection. Not ideal, but reasonably effective.

_Insurance. As the Executive Producer, Kate handles the insurance. She’s off at a ticket counter right now, but my understanding is that we have worldwide insurance that protects our gear and rented/borrowed gear against loss, theft, or damage. I think our insurance goes thru Taylor and Taylor in LA. Tell them I sent you. We also occasionally have insurance for specific jobs, but since Kate’s away, I can’t ask her on that one now… I know our people insurance is thru our corporate policy and our NZ production company, The Search.

_If a bag is missing? Our tough luck. But in reality, it’s often easier to recover a missing bag thru your airline than it is dealing with shipping expeditors via customs. ATA Carnets aside, shipping lots of gear (eg. if we shipped full kits + lighing + stands, etc, all in big cases etc, can sometimes cause headaches on the receiving end – especially if you’re short on time. Which is why we chose to do it this way on this gig…we had no time in advance. The job cleared in less than 7 days before we shipped out (down payment check came at 9am Saturday morning and we flew out at 6pm that night) so we didn’t have the luxury of time that we often have. Also, regarding missing backs, we make sure to distribute gear intelligently between bags so that if we lose one or even two, we have enough gear to make happen what we need to make happen. Also, recall that Scott and I each carried on a Nikon D3/D3x and a lens + batteries, cards and charger, to protect against worst case scenario. We’re not going to the middle of the wilderness, but we’re not exactly flying to NYC either, so our strategy is based on that stuff too…

Will you show us workflow from click of shutter to delivery to client?

_That’s a tall order but we’ll do the best we can. We’re a little understaffed since we have a lot of stuff going on around the clock back at the studio in Seattle while we’re away, but we’ll try to lay it out best we can from location. There will be more followup posts on return mid September as well.

Sorry, I know there are dozens of questions I’m not getting to here, but I’m outta time on this layover. I will address as many as possible throughout the course of this job.

Which brings me to a good point: please ask questions. If you don’t ask, I’m left guessing at what interests you most.

I’ll give a general overview of the job with as many details as I can when we get to our destination in Queenstown. In the meantime, I’m off to my next plane. Kate and Scott say hey.

[Previous Chase Jarvis TECH: Packing Photography Gear video here. Check it for the more thorough version of packing…]

Crappy-ass salad and a double margarita at LAX:

Moonrise over the Pacific:

Flight attendant catching some down time:

more soon. thx for tuning in…

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78 Responses to Packing Quick ‘n’ Dirty

  1. Remi Boucher September 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    wow! I have the same t-shirt as Chase!

  2. icedsoul September 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    enjoy man!
    so cool you are doing these!
    its very insightful and fun!
    be safe!

  3. Kurt Jambretz September 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm #


    Thanks for giving us a behind the scenes look at how you operate your business!(right down to how you pack and move your gear!!) Much respect and admiration for you and your whole crew! Good luck in NZ!!

  4. Ilja September 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

    Cool to see how you do this.

    Is it correct that none of your cameras/equipment is carried as handluggage? Everything is regular luggage thats gets thrown in and out of the plane..?

  5. Machado September 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for the vids and infos

    Keep on like that and it's going to be a great weekend for learning!

    Thanks again !

  6. Jim Felder September 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Hey Chase, this is great that you are sharing this stuff. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to share. Great content. Don't mind it uncut one bit.

  7. Anonymous September 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    Thanks chase. This is awesome

  8. Richard Peters September 6, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    First video already! This is going to be a great video diary!!

    How much gear gets put in the hold? I feel uncomfortable just having my tripod and misc bits in the hold when I fly!!

  9. Dave September 6, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    I have been following your work for about two years now and have not made any comments. I now feel I have to.
    This is a fantastic Idea of yours, why the Hell didn't you think of it earlier;-)
    I am an (Irish) freelancer living in Cambodia trying to break into commercial photography here and every little bit helps.

    Keep it coming.
    Oh yea.. What is the Job, can you say?

  10. ThatcherDorn September 6, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    And your bringing your ski gear?! NICE! Any shoot that lets you bring your ski gear to NZ is going to be epic! I love the raw uncut vid! I also love details and play-by-play updates.

  11. arthuralmassy September 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Chase, this is awesome! Thanks for doing this!

  12. Eddo September 7, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Thanks Chase for letting us view what goes on behind the scenes on this shoot. Have fun in NZ!

  13. szabiakanich September 7, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    Great stuff, Chase. Looking forward to the updates. And yeah that's a lot of gear to be lugging around. Have fun though and bring on the behind the scenes madness. :)

    @Scott: Nice facial hair combination ;):D


  14. Singapore Photography September 7, 2009 at 1:14 am #


    I must say that I've gotten a new insight into packing for a job! Thank you very much!

  15. Picture life on an island... September 7, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    This is really great…thanks for bringing us behind the scenes (…and thanks for popping the facebook stuff up here for us blog readers…much appreciated).

  16. ART September 7, 2009 at 8:13 am #

    Great idea and execution.
    How do you use the P2 camera?

  17. car blog September 7, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    that is one different and unique way to pack.

  18. ValliCA September 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    FYI, the P in Lowepro isn't capitalized. :)

  19. Phat Baby Photographer September 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Kinda fun to see what goes on for a big commercial shoot. Do you actually pick and choose what you need to bring based on the shoot or is it easier to essentially just ship your entire studio? Thanks.

  20. Chase Jarvis September 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    @phat : DEFINATELY pick and choose what goes to a job based on need. Otherwise we'd be constantly traveling with waaaaay to much stuff …

  21. Anonymous September 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm #


    Once booked for a job, do you go into it with an idea of the artistic direction you're going to take or is it something that transpires on the fly once you're on location?



  22. Chase Jarvis September 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    @ anon: when i'm shooting personal work it's occasionally a lighter approach to creative direction, but almost everything in the commercial world is really well planned out. There is usually room for interpretation and flexibility on the fly, but the boundaries are set-ish. This is no exception, but lots of room to be creative within those boundaries…

  23. Chase Jarvis September 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    @ richard: in this case, everything but 2 dslr kits got put in the hold.

    …but it all got here safely :0

  24. Sonnydelight September 7, 2009 at 7:01 pm #


    I've been wondering how you go about securing permits and all things necessary for location based shooting? I'm not sure where to start w/ those kinds of things.

    Kate doesn't have a blog does she?

    Thanks bud! Can't wait to see your work.

  25. Marcos G. Meider September 8, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    Chase, is that Scott saying "Bueno" in Spanish at the right beginning of the video? If so, he pronounced it quite well.

  26. RA.Sullivan = Sully September 8, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Do you get a media rate for equipment? If so how do you go about getting it. Recent travel has produced some hassle with equipment. Thanks.

  27. Chase Jarvis September 8, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    @ sully: no. we do not get a "media rate". but we're all elite flyers with united and can take up to 3 bags up to 70lbs each.

  28. AdamBoon September 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    The promise of a video a day is enticing!
    I look forward to the complete video diary, should be really interesting, never seen a commercial shoot set-up packed like this.

    Oh, and theres no way I'd trust any of my equipment to an airline, especially in their holds ;)

  29. Greg September 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Chase- thanks for sharing. Enjoy NZ.

  30. RA.Sullivan = Sully September 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks! I appreciated the info.

  31. jason Grubb September 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    The behind the scenes look is fantastic. thanks for sharing!

  32. DantePasquale September 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Chase, love the picture of the FA. My wife is one & I wondered what they did on those trans-pacific flights ;)

    Best of luck with the shoot and look forward to learning from you. Ciao

  33. Dan September 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Hey Chase, I'll add another "Thanks for doing this!" I'm really looking forward to this series. Looks like it'll be great fun! For both you guys and for us readers.

  34. Taylor Perkey September 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks so much for doing these updates! …but I was thinking…if you "don't like to travel like that", you could always give me some of the gear and I'll happily travel with it. =]

  35. Anonymous September 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Hey Chase,
    I always have problems to view these flash videos on my computer. I can´t hear the sound, or my machine will not stream it. Can you please make it downloadable? Or post it to another source like youtube, where I can easy download it? Want to participate on this useful information. Thank you for your efforts,


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    Great stuff. By the way, this is to pass on to SanDisk – I didn't know about these new products until I learned about them on the blog. So, there's good reason to share like this. Thanks!

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