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Traveling to Uganda - any advice??
Kyle Carter, Photographer
Sikeston | MO | USA | Posted: 1:10 AM on 09.16.12
->> Hey guys - I am traveling to Uganda for the first time in about a month on a mission trip. Obviously I am going to be busy working on the ground, but much of my work is going to be with my camera. I've read all I can find on the message boards - any other advice any of you can give me??
I'd love to hear anything you can add. Thanks so much!!!! KC
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Greg Bartram, Photographer
Dublin | OH | | Posted: 10:11 AM on 09.16.12
->> I've documented missions work in Kenya, Guatemala, South Africa, Botswana, Haiti and Moldova, so I'm happy to help.

There are a few major questions to ask first, so you have a better feel for what you're going into.

1) Access to power - do you have it? Are you working way out in the remotes, or will you be returning to a reasonable facsimile of civilization daily? If yes, you only need to get through a given day, and can dump cards/recharge batteries at night.

2) Image space. I don't know how many cards you have, but I'd grab some 32GB cards if you're short. I take it you haven't done a trip like this before, so it's good to remember that on a new continent, there are going to be an amazing number of brand new things you're going to see, and many/most of them you're going to want to document.

3) Transporting your gear. I don't know what kind of camera bag you have, but I absolutely love the Think Tank Shape Shifter. It'll fit as a carry-on on any aircraft I've ever flown on...ERJs and other commuters included. I actually can't fit my 70-200 2.8 into the Shape Shifter, so I have a Think Tank Speed Changer 2.0 that I attach on one of the shoulder straps via velcro, and I've never had a problem with it.

I just looked at the time, and I've got to get something finished, but I'll add more later.
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Max Waugh, Photographer
Bothell | WA | USA | Posted: 10:42 AM on 09.16.12
->> Along the lines of Greg's second point, if you're not taking a laptop (or even if you are), consider an external storage device for backing up images. I would hate to rely on cards alone, and sometimes bringing a computer isn't a feasible option on these trips. I like the Nexto storage devices, and usually take two 500GB units on my overseas trips.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO | CA | USA | Posted: 6:56 PM on 09.16.12
->> Kyle, I just sent you an email.
Something else you should consider, is to travel light. When I traveled to places like Yemen, Darfur, South Sudan, Libya and so on for documentary photography purposes; I made a point of taking 2 camera bodies, 2 light lenses, and 1 back up lens. I had 2 1D bodies, a 16-35, a 70-200 (back up lens), and a 100. OK, there have been times I also had a little 35 f2.0 as well. Just depended on what I was shooting that day. I made sure I took loads of batteries and every time I had a chance, I charged all my batteries. Fortunately all the places I went to had good power on a regular basis, even Darfur; but I did not always have internet.
Take at least one external hard drive with you, and back the images you have taken up on a daily basis. I had a hard drive go bad on me on one of my trips to Yemen, and it was a major struggle to get images out on deadline. Fortunately I had some USB drives with me and I was able to download and transmit from an internet cafe.
Take a few bigger USB drives with you, you never know. And they are small to pack.
People in that part of the world are very friendly. Enjoy, and do what you do best!
Jambo sanna!
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Shelley Cryan, Photographer
New England | CT | USA | Posted: 10:37 PM on 09.16.12
->> Hi Kyle,

I've travelled to Senegal and The Gambia several times over the past couple years and photographed humanitarian organizations there. Max, Wally, and Greg have given you excellent advice: pack light and bring extra cards and backup drives. Also charge your batteries whenever you get a chance. If you have power one day, don't count on having it the next. Bring a little lantern for when the power goes out.

To add to that, I'd advise you to take time to get to know folks before you take out the camera. Actually this is probably the most useful advice I can give, and of course isn't Africa-specific.

Other things:

At times I was really happy to have a tiny lens -- a 20mm fixed -- and smallish slr. Less intrusive looking. Plus makes you get close.

Op/tech makes inexpensive rain/dust covers for your gear. Also bring one of those pen-sized things -- lenspen I think it's called -- to clean off your lenses. Make sure you change lenses where it's not too dusty.

Ziploc bags, gaffer tape, gauze, tiny scissors, thin clothesline rope are your friends. Bring clothes you can wash easily. Note: blue jeans take a really long time to dry.

Be prepared to leave most of your clothes and OTC medicines with folks who were kind to you during your visit.

Bring an extra bag just big enough to carry one camera; some days you'll want to travel really light. From your note, it sounds like you'll be multitasking.

Plan ahead of time what types of shots you want to make sure to get. Then be prepared to revise your list nightly. :) Really push yourself to find stories and then make the images to tell them.

Don't bring candy to give out. Why do so many people think that's a good idea (not meaning to imply you, Kyle, but it's a sore spot for me and your note triggered it)? If you want to bring gifts, better to bring school supplies, reading glasses, flashlights, water bottles.

Keep a journal.

Have a great time and hit up the message board with news of your trip!
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:46 PM on 09.16.12
->> Think Tank Shape Shifter carries all of this: back up drive, two bodies, 16-35, 70-200, 1.4 ext., computer. all fit in the SS. along with card readers and other small peripheral stuff. as said above I have never been in an aircraft that the SS doesn't fit in. changed my life flying to jobs. plus you can carry it on your back and leave your hands free to deal with other things. good luck.
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Kyle Carter, Photographer
Sikeston | MO | USA | Posted: 11:37 PM on 09.16.12
->> THANK YOU!!!!! Thank you to all of you who have replied here and to those of you who have sent me private messages - you know who you are. As I think the greatest compliment I can give - I will DEFINITELY be changing some of my travel plans from your advice.
I do have someone in Uganda I am staying with, a local, so I think I will have power every day and there is an internet cafe that I can use at least a couple of times during the week.
My main focus on this trip is obviously the mission work, but I also know that sometimes telling a story with a camera can be powerful back here in the states. It can also raise awareness to different areas that some people never think about.
@Shelley - thanks for the advice about the candy - it had crossed my mind, but I will look for something more useful than that. Maybe go in the opposite direction with toothbrushes LOL
Thank you again to all of you for your help and I will be sure to update you all upon my return to the states!!
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Greg Bartram, Photographer
Dublin | OH | | Posted: 12:50 AM on 09.17.12
->> Adding on to my previous post, and mixing in what you're provided...

Okay, so you're doing missions work and bringing your camera as opposed to going over to document someone else's efforts, right? With that in mind, I'd plan on having a single body/lens/flash with you while you're onsite that's accessible, and maybe the Shape Shifter on your back with whatever else you have brought. If you're going to work, you've got to be free enough to work without worrying about your cameras, but it's still good to have your gear handy.

Also, and this may be the most important thing I can tell you, try not to change lenses while you're out and about. Africa is an incredibly dusty place, and you don't want to spend your time once you get back cleaning out all the dust.

Many cards, but also make sure you download/back files up as often as possible. Don't bank on being able to download every day, but be sur eyou download as often as possible.

Feel free to message me directly (or anyone else here as well whose answers you found helpful), and between all of us, we'll get you ready for the trip. I've loved working in Africa, and I'm sure you will as well.

To add on to the 'no candy' comment that Shelley made...I was in Guatemala shooting at a city dump (some folks get ALL their food from there) when one of the group I was working for gave a child a piece of hard candy...the child almost choked, and we wee all grateful that someone knew the Heimlich maneuver...seriously. The candy-giver felt truly horrible...
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Greg Bartram, Photographer
Dublin | OH | | Posted: 12:57 AM on 09.17.12
->> Also...Wally, your Libya stuff is gorgeous.
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Thread Title: Traveling to Uganda - any advice??
Thread Started By: Kyle Carter
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