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What's In My Bag: A Travel Photographer's Kit To Cover Something Different Each Week

Kirsten Alana (@kirstenalana) is a travel photographer whose diverse interests, and wide-ranging client base, make it possible for her to shoot something different every week. Alana’s first Sony camera was the RX1R II in 2015 and she went all in on Sony in 2017 starting with the Alpha 7R II. A former wedding photographer, Alana has gradually complemented her primes with zoom lenses where they have proven their worth in the demanding and ever-changing nature of travel photography and she says her next gear additions will be from the G Master II zoom lineup. Not everything in her bag comes with her on every trip because she’s forever searching for the perfect bag that could carry it all. Alana lives in Los Angeles when she’s not on assignment and sometimes misses the nomadic life she once lived in the days when she visited a new country every week. Kirsten is active in the Sony Alpha Female Facebook group, and we caught up with her to learn more about her kit. Keep reading as she shares what's in her bag.

Product Preview – In This Article You'll Find:
Sony Alpha 7R III
Sony Alpha 7R II
Sony RX1R II
Sony 50mm f/1.8
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master
Sony 35mm f/2.8
Sony 55mm f/1.8

Kirsten Alana's travel photography kit

See the diverse set of cameras and lenses Kirsten Alana packs in her kit to capture the ever-changing nature of travel photography.

Cameras

Sony Alpha 7R II: This was the first Sony camera I bought with cash after moving on from all the brands I’d tried before that point. I’ll always have a soft spot for the body that really made me a Sony photographer. Even though it’s far from new, now, it still performs well and gets me the shots I need it to.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 16-35mm f/4 G. 1/10-sec., f/22, ISO 200

"I sat in a snowbank for a long time waiting for the light that I wanted to illuminate this scene at Lake Louise in Alberta. It was worth it!" Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 16-35mm f/4 G. 1/10-sec., f/22, ISO 200

Sony Alpha 7R III: An upgrade from the Alpha 7R II, I prefer the way you change focus points on this body. It makes me a more efficient shooter.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/50-sec., f/2.8, ISO 3200

"Owner of Uproot Pie Co, Jess, was busy at work during the dinner hour at a winery in Maine when I needed to get a photo of her. No time for styling the scene and little time to change my focus made me grateful I had the Sony Alpha 7R III." Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/50-sec., f/2.8, ISO 3200

Sony RX1R II: I fell in love with this camera immediately because the compact size hid an incredibly powerful tool that made photography exciting again and is great for video as well. I like to still use it when I don’t want to stand out. Often with travel photography, that puts potential subjects at ease and helps me get a better photograph in the end.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony RX1R II. 25-sec., f/2, ISO 800

"I love that I was able to capture this incredible Milky Way moment in a camera I can fit in my coat pocket. It was taken at Trona Pinnacles in the California Desert National Conservation Area in autumn." Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony RX1R II. 25-sec., f/2, ISO 800

Lenses

Sony 50mm f/1.8: This lens is an absolute staple. It’s affordable enough to be within the reach of most budgets and yet it takes photos that look like they came from far more expensive primes. As I struggle with carrying heavier gear, I’ve turned to this lens more and more.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 50mm f/1.8. 1/5000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

"I took this photo at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. It was a very hot day that really tested my stamina, so I was glad to be traveling with a lighter lens." Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 50mm f/1.8. 1/5000-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master: The 70-200mm is a workhorse of a lens. This baby’s still got it and we’ve been on some grand adventures together. The range allows me to capture subject matter from afar while being less intrusive.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/320-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

"As one of the earlier photographs I took with the 70-200mm after switching to Sony, and in my favorite part of the world no less, this photograph from Scotland will always be special to me." Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/320-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master: The range of this lens covers most of what I need to photograph day-to-day in my travel career and it works for so many different subjects. Just about the only thing I don't use this lens for is wildlife. From portraiture, to food, to interiors, street photography and more, there’s rarely a day I don’t use the 24-70mm GM part or most of the time.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 15-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 15-sec., f/2.8, ISO 500

Sony 35mm f/2.8 and Sony 55mm f/1.8: Lately compact and lightweight lenses have been with me when I try to lessen the weight of what I carry. They're great lenses and very convenient to pack and travel with.

Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 35mm f/2.8. 1/2000-sec., f/4.5, ISO 500

"At the Amber Fort in Jaipur, this woman in yellow caught my eye. After getting her permission, the ability to zoom in made it possible for me to get my photograph without disturbing her at work." Photo by Kirsten Alana. Sony Alpha 7R II. Sony 35mm f/2.8. 1/2000-sec., f/4.5, ISO 500

Accessories

Head Lamp & Flashlight: These come in handy when I’m double checking my settings before I start on a round of astro photography. Or later at night when I’m done and stumbling back to my car in the dark.

Homemade Camera Straps: I make these myself using vintage camera straps that I refurbish with Peak Design anchor links and scrap leather. They remind me of the 35mm cameras I first shot with and make me feel connected to my roots in photography.

Sony Alpha Female Pin: It makes me feel connected to a supportive and dynamic community of women photographers around the world. Sometimes I really need the reminder it exists and sometimes I just hope another woman like me will see it and feel less outnumbered in our industry. 

Hold Fast Moneymaker: That bunched up leather unfurls and allows me to carry two cameras at once, balancing the weight as if I was wearing a backpack. People also tell me it looks cool.

Obvious State Pocket Notebook: Even though it’s now faster to type on my phone or laptop, sometimes I still want to write in an actual notebook. These pocket-sized ones have great designs and quotes on the outside that always make me smile.

Tripods: Even though I don’t do the kind of photography that means I am always setting up a tripod, I still carry two with me almost everywhere I go. I like to try out long exposure and astro photography wherever I am, even if it’s not part of the client brief.

Slate Edition II Card Case: I was given this at Kando and I immediately replaced my soft-sided card pouch with this beast. Whatever situation I find myself in, I know at least my memory cards are protected!

Kondor Blue & Leatherman Tools: It’s surprising how often I’ve needed these tools when I’m traveling. Not always for photography. But they do come in handy when you need to tighten the screw on a mounting plate.

A Fig Bar & Immunity Tea: Even though I love what I do and never want to do anything else, sometimes I do get worn down. A snack and a comforting cup of tea will help me get right back to work.

See more of Kirsten Alana’s work on Instagram (@kirstenalana) and on her website.

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