The Packing Shot


Perhaps the most envy-inducing packing shot of all time is of Renan Ozturk’s gear room

One of the greatest joys of taking a trip is the shooting of the packing photograph. Whether it’s the satisfaction an adventurer gets from organizing, documenting, and reveling in the tools of their craft, or the byproduct of the look-at-me narcissism that social media has helped to perpetuate, the good feeling the packing photo induces is the same. Either way, I can’t help but love the genre of the preparation photo.

I am truly enchanted by packing photos, and when I scroll by them in my news feed, the urge to click on them is irresistible. However, clicking on them is not enough; I need to identify and scrutinize every single piece of gear as well. Even worse, in my daily life, I fight the urge to shoot them on even the most boring trips—think to places as common as the grocery store. After all, who would be interested in seeing me sprawled out in between four recyclable grocery bags?


Last summer’s California mountaineering packing shot

What makes the packing shot so alluring? Perhaps sprawling out a majority of your possessions on the floor and photographing them in preparation for a trip is a way of expressing a mastery of the various tools of your trade: you bought all the stuff, you learned how to use it, and now you’re going to apply what you’ve learned. Maybe it’s the outdoor person’s equivalent of buying a fancy car: a way to induce envy amongst your peers with your incredible layering system. Or maybe it’s simply that laying everything out in preparation before using it simply helps justify buying all of it in the first place.

No matter the reason(s) behind the packing photo, the taking of it is almost mandatory at this point. Before my last trip, I basically unpacked my bag in order to take one. Ironically, in preparation for an upcoming trip, I’ve ended up consulting that picture (and about a thousand others) to determine what to bring. Did I mention I’m going on a trip? That’s right! And, currently, I am having a hard time deciding what I’m more excited about, the adventure or the packing photo.


Ready to go!