Traveling Light


Before joining the creative team at Highlands, I spent the previous four years traveling the world and making videos as a crew of one. Make no mistake about it, there are definite advantages to working as a team.

At Highlands, we try to have at least two to three people, if not more, on a shoot. We've learned that more eyes and ears you have on set the less likely you are to make a mistake, however there are still situations that arise when everyone on the team finds themselves shooting solo.

Shooting by yourself does limit your production capabilities, but it also offers some great advantages. For one, it allows you to be very low profile and blend in where you are shooting. When you are in a crowd of people with a DSLR like a 5D Mark II, you can get away with shooting just about anywhere, because people assume that you're taking photos. Many places where we like to get b-roll don't like videographers walking around, but they don't mind photographers.

Shooting by yourself also forces your hand to take only the gear you need, rather than everything in your kit you think you need. When I shoot solo, I'm only able to take the gear that will fit in my travel bag that I can carry by myself. As a general rule, I bring only what I can keep on my back at all times. Instead of bringing a bag full of lenses, I only bring a few; typically this is a tight lens and a wide angle lens.

Shooting by yourself will make your brain flex a little more than when you're with a team. When you're alone, you have to think about all aspects of production not only including the look of the video, but the sound, and the story itself. You'll have to look for natural light (because you're less likely to have lighting gear), and you probably will be limited to using a lav mic.

A big tip to follow when you're shooting a video by yourself this: Keep it simple. Video production is complicated, and you'll do yourself a big favor by limiting the number of things you have to think about while on set. Focus on the story, and make sure the quality is high on everything you're capture.

If I were leaving on a solo shoot tomorrow, I would bring the following gear, and yes, it will all fit in one backpack.

  • DSLR video camera
  • 4 camera batteries
  • Battery charger
  • A lightweight tripod
  • 64GB of media (CF card or SD card)
  • Rode VideoMic Pro for on camera audio
  • A wide lens, a 50mm prime, and a tight lens
  • A lav kit ... wired or wireless will work
  • Zoom H4n audio recorder
  • A good pair of headphones (not your iPhone set)
  • A hard drive to backup your media
  • A laptop to move your footage over

Here's a video I shot completely by myself a few years back.