web analytics

Destination Weddings Part 1: Pack Your Bags!

May 25th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot  |  2 Comments

Destination Weddings

I photograph approximately forty weddings per year, and almost all of them are destination weddings for the couple (the couple is traveling at least a few hundred miles from where they live to get married).  However, at least half of them are destination weddings for me, too- and I find myself flying over 100,000 miles per year and spending a great deal of time in airports, bus stations, and rental cars on my way to and from gorgeous weddings.  Over the years I have fielded many questions about destination weddings, from marketing to travel, so I thought I would address them in a blog series on destination weddings.  Welcome to Part 1: Pack Your Bags!

When I am flying to a wedding, I like to travel light.  Although my chiropractor agrees with my decision, it is not one that was based solely upon my comfort; rather, there is a very good reason (several, actually) to travel without checked bags and within your carry on bag limit.  Have you ever missed your connecting flight or needed to be re-routed due to a cancelation or poor weather?  If the connection is tight, before the airline will commit to the change they will often ask “Do you have any checked bags?”  It is SO much easier to find yourself re-routed in case of emergency if you only have your carry on bags.  If you have checked bags, you will occasionally find yourself out of luck when it comes to re-routing options.  There are many other comfort reasons (hello “One Stop” through customs and immigration! to go with just your carry on bags, but it that first reason that keeps me playing sherpa in the airport.  If you MUST check your bags, please please please keep your equipment in your carry on luggage.  I have heard of one too many photographers that have arrived at their destination to find that their equipment was either broken or had been stolen (these are not just urban legends), so please keep your equipment on you at all times.

When you are traveling with carry on luggage, make sure that you know the rules and regulations associated with your airline.  Your tripod may look cute and compact, but did you know that there are many TSA stops that won’t allow them through?  If I’m planning on using off-camera lighting I will either pack a gorilla pod or two for my slave SB-800s, or I will entertain some non-tripod options.  Also, if you are mixing your ziploc bag of liquids with your equipment, you may want to consider double or triple bagging so that you don’t find your shampoo all over your wedding dress or worse, your D3s.

Destination Weddings 2

I’m going to go through some of my favorite bags and accessories, but before I do I would like to draw your attention to the colors.  I don’t carry black bags.  Why not?  I am drawn to colors- that’s certainly true- but I don’t travel with black bags because everyone else does.  I want my bags to stand out, and not in a “I have thousands of dollars of photo equipment inside” way.  My bags are cute, functional, and (best of all!) they don’t scream “steal me”.

1. The bags.  My two primary bags (shown in the pic at the top of the post) are a Kelly Moore Libby bag and an LLBean rolling duffle.  Ask me how many bags (both camera and otherwise) that I have in my house and I think you would be astonished by the enormous number.  For years I have been on the quest of the perfect bags to travel with, and I think that quest is finally at an end.

First, the LLBean bag rolling duffle- it comes in a lot of colors, it is durable and water-resistant, and LLBean has an amazing return policy for defective equipment (with or without a receipt, and even years later).  Plus, it’s a company that is local to me (and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year) so I want to give them my business.  Add to that the fact that their duffle is narrower than most other duffles (so it fits on even the smallest flights) and does not have a hard base (so the sides are flexible), and this is a rolling bag that is a dream to fit on airplanes.

Next, the Kelly Moore Libby Bag- this bag comes in a few different colors, is water-resistant, and holds a ton of gear.  Plus it has lots of external pockets- I carry all kinds of accessories in the four small external pockets, my passport and airline paperwork in the flat front external pocket, and my iPad in the back external pocket.  It also has space for a laptop and cords inside (although I usually carry my laptop in my rolling duffle to save my back- more on that later).  I carry two D3s (tricked out for the Spider Pro Holster) several prime lenses, at least two flashes, cards, Yongnuo trigger and receivers, my D3s charger, a HyperDrive (more on this later), my 14-24 if I feel like I might need it, a sweater for the plane, and  lot of accessories.  I can’t say enough nice things about this bag- it is wonderful.

2. The small orange bag in the first and second photographs is my Kelly Moore Posey Bag (I own three Kelly Moore bags and love them all).  This bag usually travels inside of my rolling duffle while I am traveling, and then serves as a lens bag on the day of the wedding and my location for used cards while I am headed home.  By the time I leave for the airport for my return flight, I will have four to five copies of my files, and they are all in different locations.  I like the Kelly Moore Posey Bag because the cards are stored right next to my credit cards and cash and are always within reach and in my sight.

3. A view inside of the Libby bag, which divides my gear into four spaces with additional gear dividers (including a laptop divider) plus an additional velcro panel (not shown) to go on top of your gear, keeping it snug and hidden from prying eyes (since there is room for a sweater, a book, and a few snacks on top of it).

4. My Spider Pro Holster goes in my rolling duffle.  I love this holster and use it in lieu of camera straps.  Be prepared to be pulled over if you are traveling abroad with this puppy mixed in with other equipment, though- my current rate of being questioned about the belt with big metal buckles is around 35% right now.  I find that I am less likely to be questioned about it if I keep it separate from my other equipment- your mileage may vary, though.

5. My Sea Bag accessory bags!  These eco-friendly bags are made out of recycled sails, so they give you a reason to feel good about yourself.  Add to that the fact that they are water-resistant, cute, and incredibly versatile and you have a winner on your hands.   I have a few of these with different designs to separate out my different accessories.

6. My laptop sleeve- it is brightly colored neoprene that slips in an out of my duffle.  It also makes my 15″ MacBookPro easier to carry around when I’m on location and I don’t want to disturb all of my gear while I check my email.  This one is Betsey Johnson, but there are so many that would do the trick.

7. My HyperDrive is one of my favorite accessories.  This is the only USB hard drive that is iPad compatible that I know of at this time- I have the older version which has slots to download CF and SD cards directly onto the HyperDrive- you can see the files directly on the HyperDrive (to make sure that you downloaded ALL of your cards) or you can navigate through with your iPad.  Not only is it a great iPad hard drive, but it is also a way to download and view your files without external power (which can be hard to find while you are on the road).

8. My PowerPax Battery Organizer is a great way to separate and store my unused batteries away from my used batteries.  I’ve had one too many trips where my batteries fell into the bottom of my bag and I didn’t know whether they were used or unused- this organizer makes it easy.  If they are in the bright orange case, then I know that they are full power.

9. Another HyperMac accessory- my HyperMac Micro will recharge my iPad and iPhone from it’s battery and the HyperJuice will power your MacBook Pro on those long flights that don’t have power outlets on the seats.  I’ve had great customer service from this company (plus I appreciate that they had their products photographed so beautifully and professionally).

10. One of the accessories that I carry in one of my Sea Bag wristlets- I like this InCase USB charger because it fits in a standard outlet or a car outlet/cigarette lighter port.  I also love the fact that it is a USB charger and not a dedicated iPhone/iPad charger- that means it can charge (with the proper cords, or course) my other USB devices in addition to my beloved Apple products.  Most of my accessories have to do double duty to cut down on the amount of cords in my bags, so I appreciate the versatility of this charger.

Have fun, wherever your travels may take you!!

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.


About Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner has written 19 post in this blog.

Michelle is a professional wedding photographer who splits time between Maine and Puerto Vallarta.



  1. Sandra Costello says:

    May 25th, 2011 at 5:27 pm (#)

    Awesome article. Thanks so much!

  2. Briana Moore says:

    May 25th, 2011 at 6:01 pm (#)

    Great tips! Thanks

ShootStyle Newsletter Signup

Sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch with ShootStyle and be among the first to learn about upcoming events.

Emails by Mad Mimi

Get the Latest Posts via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner