I get asked often how much gear a photographer has to have shoot a typical MTB event. You don't have to have anything. You can go out and have a great ride with your buddies and use your iphone to shoot a few memories and be stoked. I've even sold a couple of images shot on cell phones. You use the equipment you have at hand, right? Of course, I generally take a bit more than that to an event half-way around the world (although sometimes I wish I didn't have to.) Take a look inside to see what I normally lug around with me.
The gear you own and use differs depending on what you have to shoot and what type of photographer you are. Some guys love shooting natural light, some love using flashes and turning day into night in the woods. I lie somewhere in between. Some days I want the gorgeous natural light firing over the mountains, some days I want the commercial look of a nice big softbox. Somedays, I want an assistant to carry it all!
When I head out on the world cup, I generally bring a pretty big arsenal of equipment, just in case. Some of it will never get used, but if you need it in Africa, and it's in Canada - you're out of luck. Better safe than sorry!
Here's a pretty typical show and tell of what sort of gear i generally bring to an event. Closer events get more gear, especially if I don't have to fly or cross international borders with it.
As you can see below, it's a rather large amount of equipment.
1 x Ranger RX Speed AS 1100 Watt Portable Studio Strobe (in Pelican Case)
1 x Manfrotto Tripod and ballhead for video work and Ranger light stand
1 x Canon 300mm F2.8 Lens
1 x Canon 70-200mm F 2.8 Lens
1 x Canon 17-40mm F4 Lens
1 x Canon 15mm Fisheye F2.8 Lens
1 x Canon 50mm F1.8 Lens
1 x Canon 550 EX Flash
2 x Vivitar 285HV Flash
4 x Pocket Wizard Wireless Transceivers
2 x Canon 1D Mark III Bodies
1 x Canon 1D Mark IV Body
1 x Shutterboss Intervalometer
1 x Manfrotto Magic Arm + Super clamps and camera platform
2 x Slik Lightweight Tripods for Flashes
2 x Ultrapod II mini tripods
2 x Go Pro Hero 2 Action Sports Cams
1 x Condenser mic for video interviews
6 TB of external HDDs
Monster Beats Noise cancelling headphones (These are key when you fly 100 000+ miles a year.)
Big bag of cables, connectors, spigots, power adapters, battery chargers etc.
When all packed down, it looks like this - the mesh bag, slik tripods and magic arm get checked in my gear bag. The Camelbak BFM backpack goes carry-on, as does the laptop bag. That way, even if the airlines lose my luggage, I can hit the ground running with what's in the backpack.
So there you have it. It's a massive amount of equipment that travels around the globe and gets beaten to death by me, the airlines and the lovely world cup weather. It's also why photos aren't free "even though you were there anyways".
I'd like to thank everyone who is helping me out again for 2012: Monster Energy, Specialized Bicycles, Troy Lee Designs, Five Ten, Camelbak and Oakley. You guys make my life much easier, and I owe you!