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Location Gear: Pelican Bag

Lesson 17 from: Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

17. Location Gear: Pelican Bag

Lesson Info

Location Gear: Pelican Bag

I want to introduce you to my very best friend, the love of my photographic life. The Pelican Case. Now there are prettier cases. There are cases who are more popular. There are cases that have more friends. But there are no cases quite like this case. And, I am not an employee of the Pelican Products Corporation, or anything like that. But I have to tell you, as someone who's shot, and shoots, primarily on location, this has got to be the most useful piece of equipment that I've ever bought. This is an old one. I've had this for awhile. This is the Pelican 1510. I think they just came out with a new one. You have one, right Savannah? It's, like, the Pelican Air? This is FAA regulation carry-on size. And in most cases, it will even fit under the seat in front of you, unless you fly a really cheap airline. They have really figured out how to fit the absolute maximum amount of chairs in there, haven't they? They must be hiring the best engineers in the world. But this will--this will fit...

under the front seat--the seat in front of you on almost any plane. Because who wants to check their camera gear when they fly? Anybody? Anybody? Me neither. So Pelican came up with this solution, and these are used photographers and every other profession the world over. These are, sort of, pretty fantastic. They're durable. It's also airtight, so you could throw it in the ocean and your stuff would probably be okay? I don't know if I'd want to gamble quite like that, but-- I'd like to say it was bulletproof, but I've never tested it. But I don't think it is. But, man, I tell you what. One time I was shooting a wedding right after I bought this thing. And it was at this old hotel with these narrow stairs, and I dropped it down the whole way-- end over end four times-- (makes tumbling noises) And each sound was like the sound of my own death. It was terrible. But everything survived! It was fine, right? Okay, so-- I like it because it's durable, because it also carries quite a lot of stuff. And let me show you. So in this case, a lot of my stuff is put together now, but I fit two camera bodies. This is very intimate-- we're all in my case right now. The whole internet's in my case. And three speed lights, five lenses, my speed light controller, and included in those five lenses is a 70-202A, batteries, chargers, business cards. Oh, this is something that we're going to talk about next. I'll put these over here. And so I find that every time I buy a new lens or a little piece of equipment, or something, that I, somehow, always manage to cram it in here, and everything just works out okay. But for travel, there's nothing that I have bought that I haven't been able to rearrange and make this work. And there are various forms of, you know, foam, or guides, or whatever, and I'm sure that there's somebody out there that looks in this case and is horrified at the state of it. Sorry--it's just how I roll. But this is a fantastic case, and it holds a ton of stuff. And, I haven't even showed you the best part. Anybody ever shoot somebody a lot taller than them? Do you ever have that? Okay. You can stand on it. Bonus round. It's pretty incredible. And so one of the reasons that I use it is if I have somebody who's short, and I need them a little taller. I've used this in situations with couples, with business partners, with groups of people, and you need to add one more person in, but there's not quite enough room. Throw the apple box in the back and have them stand on it, and now they're in the shot. So this is pretty cool. In a pinch, what's the one thing that's really hard to take with you on location that there's no real good compact version of? Posing stool. This is a phenomenal posing stool. And I have used it on location hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of times as just that. So you never have to-- I don't have to take a posing stool with me. I have posing stools at my studio, but I don't think that they've invented one yet that's super-portable that will hold the weight of certain people. So, like, I shoot a hundred people in a row. Somebody's 90 pounds, somebody's 350 pounds, so I can't take one of those little collapsible camping chairs and use that as a posing stool, so this thing holds up really, really well. I prob--I've done hundreds and hundreds of head shots with this as a posing stool. So you could stand on it. They could stand on it. If you like to do something-- I'm going to go down. You could also sit on it this way if you like a little more leaning forward pose. It's, it's basically it's an apple box is the long and short of it, as well as a camera case. So I use it all the time. And this has been getting beat up by me, as you can see, since about 2010. And so, at this time, that's about six-seven years worth of beating, and it has not died on me yet. So, some people do complain about the wheels, you know, not being super-giant metal wheels, or whatever, but the tiny little plastic ones have not failed me, and I have dragged this thing, literally, all over the world, so-- it hasn't died yet. So, it is heavy. It doesn't strap onto your back. You will have to drag it around. And if you go of-roading, it's probably not ideal. But for those of us who work mostly on pavement, or indoors, or in the civilized world, this is a fantastic piece of equipment to take with you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Ten Tips for Professional Portraits
SEO Workbook
Posing Guide
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.

Student Work