A long, long time ago I was a gear fiend. I had to have all the toys and they had to be dragged around with me on every assignment. A backpack the size of a refrigerator stuffed with lenses, filters, tripods and gadgets that would never see the light of day…. All just in case.

The older I get, the lighter I travel. The older I get, the less stuff I need in my life. My wife and I even disposed of our dining table and chairs in favor of simple floor cushions. No clothes drier, no air-conditioner, no TV. This approach applies to my professional life, be it an assignment 10 minutes walk from the Reuters office in Sydney or a several week-long assignment in Afghanistan. Now I’m more likely to shoot with prime lenses, not use flash (I never really got the hang of speed lights anyway) and not take any fancy add-ons. If it doesn’t fit in two or three small pouches on my belt, chances are it gets left behind. My check-in bag is rarely full. Media scrums at news conferences are less painful. In and out of taxis/elevators/armored trucks is easier. Running with your kit is faster. Working becomes simpler and I really don’t miss all those bits and pieces that no longer weigh me down.

That means there is less to break, less to clean, less to remember, less back strain and less of a struggle through airports. Oh, and to keep your boss happy, less expense.

Nowadays my-
- iPod is a Nano.
- Sleeping bag is not much larger than a can of beans.
- Towel weighs less than 30 grams (one ounce).
- Laptop is a nine inch netbook.
- Knife fits in the palm of my hand.
- LED head torch is attached with a single strand of thin cord.


If there’s an exception to be made, this is probably it. My ride the other day through northern Kandahar, Afghanistan.