John Stanmeyer’s Kit: On Assignment with National Geographic

April 1, 2021
10:00–11:15AM EDT
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Join VII founding member and National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer on April 1 for a look inside his camera bag.

John Stanmeyer’s most-used kit.

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  • Canon Mark IV (35mm)
  • Canon 5Ds with Indian red bindi, to visually know it’s a different camera (5Ds is always set on 6×6 square format)
  • Canon 24mm 1.4
  • Canon 35mm 1.4
  • Canon 50mm 1.2
  • Two iPhone 12Pro Max (the other is in my hand taking the photo)
  • Two Shure MOTIV MV88 (lost one during 2021 inauguration in DC)
  • 6-7 Canon camera batteries
  • Anker iPhone charger (forgot to place in this photo?????…it’s small, can change an iPhone 3-4 times)
  • Two SanDisk 512GB
  • Extreme PRO memory cards (enough for a 1-2 month assignment)
  • Think Tank Retrospective 5, V1 camera bag
  • Think Tank battery pouch holder
  • Lens and eyeglass cloth
  • No-fog eyeglasses and camera lens cleaner
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mask (we’re still in COVID days…)
  • Walnut from Armenia

John Stanmeyer writes:

There is no one kit. Some can be large, though on most assignments, and with my personal projects, I am a minimalist—a simple collection of tools to bring into the field on a National Geographic assignment.

Like the wind, everything and every story are different. There are times when an extensive collection of items are needed. On Part I of the Out of Eden Walk, the assignment required traveling through the desert in the Horn of Africa for 2 months. Often walking, I did have a support vehicle and needed supplies to sleep, feed, and care for three people…fixer/translator, driver, and me. On most stories for the magazine, it is an unimpressive collection. Even more insignificant is my day-to-day kit, creating endlessly with the camera that is always in my pocket…it can order pizza too.

In this simplicity, I wish to share with each of you the realities of life, and photography…less is more.

Clothing for Out of Eden Walk, Part V, Armenia and Turkey, for two months. This is my usual clothing kit, able to fit in a small roller hand-carry bag on all planes.

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  • 4 REI quick dry long sleeve shirts
  • 3 REI quick dry pant
  • 1 Levi’s 501 jeans
  • Underwear (it’s all about the underwear)
  • Socks
  • 2 sleepy t-shirts
  • 2 sleepy shorts
  • 1 sarong

During this Premium technical webinar, expect John to share and discuss:

  • Insight into what feels just right for him, helping guide you in committing not to more and more gear, but to less — and the limitless possibilities
  • Long-form and short-form narrative storytelling with a small kit, sharing his screen while going through an entire National Geographic story, sharing examples not so much of the gear, but the outcomes that can be created with them.
  • Using a camera that, yeah, makes phone calls…he uses his iPhone more than any other camera!
  • Discussions about social media and the importance of telling stories while in the field, and how they connect to final narratives once published
  • Question and answer session, helping give more to your photography, the world, and people around you. Less emphasis on the tools because, as John explains, “in truth, our cameras and lenses are like soup spoons and cooking pots…it matters not the pot or the ladle, but the love, passion, and giving we put into the pot, when cooking soup.”
Very large kit for Part I of The Out Of Eden Walk, where supplies were needed for two-months in the desert, for John and the team he worked with.

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  • 3 tents
  • 3 sleeping bags
  • 3 collapsable chairs
  • 3 mosquito nets
  • 2 hammocks
  • Medical Kit
  • Wet bags
  • AC Power inverter from car
  • Battery
  • Lamps
  • Headlamps
  • Sunscreen
  • Maps
  • Lonely Planet Ethiopia and Djibouti
  • Cliff Bars (many)
  • Juice Tablets (many)
  • International drivers license
  • Think Tank Airport Roller (for camera gear)
  • Merrell hiking shoes
  • Eagle Creek large rollers (two for all the gear)
  • Eagle Creek small roller (clothing)
  • Eagle Creek duffle bag (for other gear)
  • Eagle Creek small zipper bags (many)
  • Basic clothing for two months
  • Reading glasses (4 pair, in case one or more gets lost or broken)
  • French press coffeemaker
  • Coffee
Mobile studio during Part I of The Out Of Eden Walk, in Aramis, Ethiopia, located a few hundred meters where the Lucy bones were discovered. My friend, Ali Mille (left), choosing music on my iPhone to play on a little collapsable speaker. MacBook desktop, a Think Tank Airport Roller. Photograph by Yonas Abiye.

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