2nd of Jan, 2014
After a stressful few weeks leading up to Christmas, I realised when I started packing that most of the stress was coming from my anticipation for this job - following and shooting the Dakar Rally, 2014.
As a sports photographer who shoots many sports, a rally is actually new to me. Football, basketball, hockey, tennis, gymnastics, F1, swimming, superbikes, speed skating, Moto GP, athletics... the list goes on. However, normally I am travelling to and from the venue from home or staying in a hotel close by. Either way what equipment you have for the job fits in your rolling bag plus a large lens and you don’t have to carry every bit of kit you need at every moment.
As far as I can tell, the Dakar will be different.
For one I am travelling through three different countries for the one event. Huge sporting spectacles like the Tour de France, Motor Race, Olympics or any world championship are in general, in the one country. The different weather and working conditions is my main concern.
With all the beaches, rivers, mountains and deserts that these amazing drivers and riders encounter, knowing how much equipment and clothing I can carry yet be nimble enough to move with the Dakar media crew is all guess work. Unlike wildlife or landscape photographers, not many sports photographers spend that much time getting ready for the day by packing up a tent before going to their next sports assignment, and finish the day by setting up in a new camp site!
Clothing is just as important as the kit you bring. You could have the best lenses and cameras money can buy, but if you are too cold or not protected enough from the elements then your health and photography will suffer. Leaving the Dutch winter for the South American summer sounds easy enough but as I mentioned already, the different altitudes with vast areas covered mean I could encounter many seasons in a short space of time.
Clothing wise I have gone for one thicker hooded jumper and 4 thinner ones which I can layer if the desert cold is as bad as I read online. The normal stuff like t-shirts, shorts and some long legged trousers pad out the rest of the one bag filled mainly with photography kit. I brought two of each of the full wet weather jackets and trousers, which may be overkill, but as we will spend the majority of the time isolated from cities, I thought to have everything I need incase of damage or loss.
Now camera kit.
3 Canon bodies (2 x 1DX’s & 1 Mk IV), 24mmTS, 14mm, 16-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and a 400mm F4 plus a 580ex flash, pocketwizard remotes, tripod and monopod.
Most of this fits into my carry on hand luggage. I am taking three bodies because from what someone told me, the amount of dust/sand during this event can be really bad so this will mean I will be changing lenses a lot less often and keeping the sensors cleaner. This third body could also act as a remote camera or just as a back up if one breaks in the middle of nowhere.
I wanted to take a longer lens but my 400mm 2.8 and 500mm F4 are both big and require their own bag. I got the 400mm F4 off the nice guys at Canon Netherlands which I will return after the event. This lens is half the size of the 500mm and the F4 should be more than enough for this job plus it fits into my main bag (see photo).
Travelling with 3 bags is as small as I could get my kit, with clothes taking up the least space, fingers crossed it's enough. Add the two man tent, sleeping bag, mattress and other camping equipment and that is my Dakar Rally 2014 kit ready to go.
I write this on the plane to Sao Paulo where I will get my connecting flight to Rosario where I will meet the Dakar crew and run through some safety briefings.
I will do my best for daily updates, time permitting and follow me on Twitter, @AllSportSnapper, if you are into that kind of thing.
Editors Note: The 2014 Dakar Rally will be the 35th running of the event and the sixth successive year that the event is held in South America. The event starts in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina on January 5 and finishes in Valparaíso, Chile on January 18 after thirteen stages of competition. To find out more visit the official Dakar Rally 2014 website.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos, Sports Photographer for Getty Images, is charged with capturing the action.
Follow Dean's coverage of the Dakar Rally 2014 on Getty ImagesSee more images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos is a Sports Photographer for Getty Images. Follow him on Twitter at @AllSportSnapper
About Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Mouhtaropoulos' love for photography began when his godfather bought him a camera for his 12th birthday.
"My journey to become a photographer had started and led me to the Big Smoke as I always knew London would provide a good platform to start my career in the photography business.
Working full time in various non-photo related roles and shooting for magazines and newspapers on weekends, it was then that I discovered Getty Images. When visiting the Getty Gallery, which was in Chelsea at the time, and looking at all those amazing pictures I had an epiphany and knew this was the company I wanted to work for.
I started hounding Getty’s Human Resources department to give me a role, any role, in the company. A few months and hundreds of phone calls later a role came up doing coffees, spreadsheets and filing.
Thanks to my boss, who saw some potential in me, I became a Field Editor for Getty which is like the modern version of working in the Dark Room. I got to work with the best photographers around the world at events like the MTV Awards, Cannes Film Festival, both Football and Rugby World Cups, the Olympics, Champions League football, World Championships in Swimming, Diving, Hockey, Athletics and so on.
This has taught me more than I could ever imagine and after 7 years of absorbing information and applying it to my own photography, I earned the opportunity to become a staff photographer for Getty.
10 years in London came to an end at the start of 2012 and I am now based in the Netherlands covering sports and news in the Benelux, France and Germany. My knowledge of photography has progressed but my passion is as strong as it was when I picked up my first roll of Fuji film as a 12 year old."