LAS VEGAS--CES is a great event for photographers to cover, mainly because we are allowed to roam free and photograph what we like. However, with all this freedom come many gear options. Here is a peek inside my photo bag and what I consider the bare essentials a photographer MUST be carrying to successfully cover this show.
You obviously need a camera. I am carrying a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which I consider an essential part of capturing amazing photos at dimly lit events because of the ability to crank the ISO up to 4000 without loosing too much detail.
Along with my camera, I have three lenses: A 70-200mm lens for getting those nice close-ups of speakers at press conferences, a 24-105mm lens for general floor shots, and a 50mm macro lens for close-ups of small products. I also have my battery charger in the mix, in case I need to recharge while processing images.
A high-power flash will help with those shots of products I get to see in dimly lit hotel rooms and other spaces in which companies might be demo-ing. I have rechargeable batteries because, hey, they're better for the environment AND push more power than regular ones.
How do I get my images to the computer? Not in a Wi-Fi-enabled CompactFlash memory card (ahem, Eye-Fi, I'm looking at you), but rather with a tether cable and extension cord. When I am at a press conference, and I need to make photos live immediately, I just tether my camera to the computer and have my camera automatically download images. For the less hectic events, I just use my card reader.
What photog would feel whole without her external hard drive? This is my baby. It is my backup, in case my computer does a free fall from my lap while I'm shooting tethered at one of those press conferences.
Energy is essential. I am a vegetarian, and there aren't many opportunities to feed myself well at this convention. So I always have energy-rich snacks on hand to nibble, such as almonds and granola bars (oh, and gum to keep my breath fresh, as the days are long here).
Wi-Fi hot spots are the most important thing of all. They provide the only assurance that I can upload images the moment something exciting happens at this show. Vegas is big, and the casinos are even bigger. Trying to find a wireless access code during crucial times is not an option. I have to be prepared with not one, but two hot-spot devices to ensure that I will have an Internet connection.
The obligatory Apple products. I have been using Apple computers in my career since I was first introduced to them in the photography department at my college. Sure, I can use a PC, but why? This computer uses my preferred language, and I am going to stick with it. You will notice that I don't have my phone charger with me. That is because my iPhone battery is great, and there is no need to worry about it running out of juice while I am running around the convention.
My emergency kit. Band-Aids, check. Neosporin, check. Blisters are a pain, and if I get one, I have no time to stop and find a store. I just pull out the kit and slap on a bandage. Also, you will see two kinds of lip balm. You can never have too much lip balm in the Vegas desert. A little drive is snuck in there, in case an editor wants my images immediately. And last, but not least, is my nifty pen. The cap is a mini manicure tool, complete with a tiny file for all the ragged fingernails I will get and have gotten in the six years I have covered CES.