Two Weeks & Counting

Okay, so the Australia-Fiji-New Zealand trip and assignment is exactly 15 days off and I’m feeling rattled. A few items in the itinerary have been nailed down since my last blog post, but there’s a heckuva lot more to go.

So far I have the flights to and from Australia and New Zealand finalized, as well as one flight within Australia. Getting to Fiji has been set for months. I’ve got two car rentals arranged and a couple of nice lodging properties lined up and almost finalized, a good thing since I’m doing several travel articles/photojournalism pieces. But I figure I still have at least 60% of the arrangements left to make, particularly for properties around New Zealand’s southwest coast (Fiordland National Park region). I have numerous leads out there, but they haven’t been finalized.

For those of you who think you’d relish the life of a travel photojournalist, this is the part I dread. Sure, the travel itself is nice; the eye candy of amazing new landscapes, meeting fascinating people, sampling new foods. But getting there entails myriad details that take entirely too much time and energy to set up. At times like this I wish I had an assistant to nail these details, but I often end up deciding on last-minute, must-photograph locations, adding or subtracting hotels… you get the picture. The end result is a frustrated assistant. Better to do it myself (although I’m always on the lookout for that ‘perfect’ assistant who can take charge and run with it).

I’m also thinking about photo equipment I need to take; cameras, lenses, accessories. This is not an idle exercise, since Australian airlines charge $10 for every kilo (2.2 pounds) above 20 kilos of checked baggage within country and a whopping $20 per kilo for flights to New Zealand! That would easily add hundreds of dollars to my fares.

I’ve also got to consider how I’ll transport my gear, both while traveling and hiking to remote locations. I prefer to use my ThinkTank wheeling camera bag for air/train/ship travel, but I probably won’t be able to take that and my ThinkTank Rotation 360 backpack. I’ll keep you posted on my final decisions in an upcoming blog.

A couple of weeks ago I started training at my gym for my excursion. Most people don’t think of this when they think ‘photojournalist,’ but the work can be physically demanding. I carry 30-40 pounds of equipment with me to remote locations, so I have to stay in shape. Typically, beginning a month prior to a major trip I’ll go to my gym three or four times a week dressed in my hiking clothes, and walk the treadmill for an hour or two, varying the up and down hill inclines throughout. I carry my full photo backpack. I’m sure I look like a total dork but, hey, someone’s got to play the role. (In the accompanying photo I’m using the ThinkTank Rotation 360)

P.S.: As of yesterday an arrangement in New Zealand I was counting on fell through, so I’ve got to start that segment again from scratch!

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