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|| News Item: Posted 2012-10-01

Mixing it up covering MMA

By Joshua Hedges

Photo by Joshua Hedges

Photo by Joshua Hedges

Joshua Hedges primary gear (top) and his remote/flash kit when the assignment calls for such equipment (bottom).
I’m head staff photographer for Ultimate Fighting Challenge and a contributing photographer for Getty Images. I have been shooting Mixed Martial Arts for more than 12 years. My kit varies quite a bit depending on the situation. If I’m traveling to an international fight, I’ll try to keep my gear to the bare minimum. For a big fight in Vegas, where I currently live, I’ll bring out the full arsenal and then some.

My main bag that travels everywhere I go is my trusty Think Tank Photo Airport International roll. This holds all the gear that I cannot live without for even the smallest shoot. I used to prefer traveling with the larger Think Tank Airport Security, but after a couple issues with Singapore Airlines and Air Canada, I decided to scale back to ensure I would not be forced to check my main gear except for short hopper flights on the small planes, which I try to avoid at all costs.

My main set of camera gear housed in the Airport International includes my main camera bodies – 2 Canon EOS-1Dx bodies and 1 Canon EOS-1D Mark IV body; main primary lenses – Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L IS II, Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L, Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8L, and Canon EF 14mm 2.8L; 6 Canon LP-E4 batteries (one in each camera, and one extra for each body); Canon EF 1.4x II Extender; Canon 580EX II flash; assorted memory cards; memory card readers; BlackRapid DR-1 double strap; and a small roll of gaffer tape

I shoot the fights mainly with the two Canon 1Dx bodies, one with the 70-200mm, the other with the 24-70mm. I’ll keep either the 16-35mm or the 14mm on the Mark IV and either hang it around my neck or have it nearby to grab. I would say I probably shoot about 75 percent of my action shots with the 70-200mm, though, so I don’t reach for the wide-angle too often.

I also carry a Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter on my back everywhere I go, which holds my MacBook Pro, chargers, mouse, external hard drives, Verizon MiFi wireless Internet, iPhone cables, pain pills, Clif bars, ear plugs, credentials, business cards, and other miscellaneous essential items.

When the assignment calls for it, I also bring a third bag full of gear. The aforementioned Think Tank Airport Security is loaded with a couple more bodies, 3-4 more flash units, tons of extra Eneloop rechargeable batteries, all my PocketWizard units (5x MultiMax, 4x FlexTT5, 2x MiniTT1), magic arms, safety cables, multi-tool, two Lightware FourSquare softbox, flash mounts, Bogen Friction Arms, Super Clamps, and various adapters.

I like to refer to this bag as my remote/flash kit. I’ll take it with me on long trips where I know I’ll be using the stuff. Everything is padded well inside and I lock it with a TSA lock that I’m sure wouldn’t take much to cut off if someone really wanted.

For local fights in Vegas or fights I’m able to drive to, I’ll typically also bring a couple longer lenses along two in their own separate cases. I love using the 400mm whenever possible, but it’s not the easiest to travel with, along with everything else I have to bring.

Other things like battery chargers, extension cables, Airport Express Wi-Fi router, Ethernet cables, and backup camera straps (in case of a failure) go in my duffel bag with my clothes.

I know a lot of people have issues with checking gear on planes. If you can avoid it, that’s great. Unfortunately, there are few times that I can avoid it. I do try to drive to assignments whenever possible. When I have to check gear, I always try to make sure it’s the least essential stuff, just in case the bag gets lost or damaged.

Above all else though, if you have a lot of gear and travel with it, you should have good insurance coverage. Fortunately, I have never had to use it, but it’s nice to know that everything will be covered should something catastrophic happen.

(Joshua Hedges is the head staff photographer for the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, based in Las Vegas. You can see examples of his work at his member page:

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