What’s in Your Bag: An Inconspicuous Kit


Clipboard014Pattabi Raman is a biologist-turned photojournalist based in Pondicherry. His work on the aftermath of the Sri Lankan war has won him plenty of critical acclaim. In conversation with Ambarin Afsar, he shares his secret for blending in. 

An inconspicuous kit is one that allows you to be unobtrusive. Earlier, I used to carry two bodies with two lenses, but people would get very conscious of the gear.

Pattabi Raman's kit

Pattabi Raman’s kit

1. One Multipurpose Lens
I use a 60D with a 15–85mm lens. I prefer this lens since it gives me both, a wide focal length as well as a decent telephoto option. Wide focal lengths let me get close to the subject and help me capture surrounding elements as well.

2. Carrying Necessary IDs
I carry my press card, and a copy of my visa, if I am travelling internationally. You can be asked for identification at any given point, and it just makes things easier, if you have everything at hand.

3. Writing Notes and Ideas
I prefer talking to people for an emotional feel, which, sometimes, cannot be captured visually. I include such details in the writeup. So, I carry two notepads and one diary to write how the entire story is shaping up.

4. Mapping a Region
It is always reliable to carry maps along with you. Sometimes, GPS and other tracking services don’t help in no network areas. Also, you can plot your progress on the map.

Packing Tips for Inconspicuous Photographers

  • Analyse Your Photos
    Look at 50 of your remarkable photos. Figure out which focal length is helping you portray a story best.
  • Don’t Worry About Gear
    Use whatever equipment is available to you. It is the person behind the camera who makes great images happen.
  • Include Your Notes
    You can include handwritten notes along with your final images. This always makes for a nice personal touch.
  • Travel Light
    If it is a road trip that you are making, carry only the bare essentials. Don’t pack things you really won’t need.


Tags: Equipment, Ambarin Afsar, light, travel, maps, gear, pattabi raman, what's in your bag, inconspicuous, 60d, kit, carry, 15-85