When it comes to equipment, photographers always have to find a balance; no one wants to carry around something that’s not useful. Two-way radios (or commercial-grade “walkie-talkies,” as many users call them) are affordable, lightweight and provide photographers important advantages, several of which can significantly improve the images they capture.
Safety, Discretion Among Benefits
Brent Russell Paull operates American West Photography in Tulare, Calif., and has four 2-way radios for his photo safaris.
“We use them mostly between vehicles so that folks see what I see and I can tell them where to look,” he says. “A typical safari group might be in three or four vehicles spread over a mile or so. Folks in the back may spot something none of the rest of us saw and call us back. This happened last week when the last car spotted a bobcat and we all came back and were able to photograph it.”
Bill Lockhart’s article “Photography and Safety” begins with a discussion of two-way radios. “Landscape photography involves hiking and going into areas that are sometimes treacherous,” he writes. “One should never do landscape photography alone. And in my opinion, good communications is essential.”
Wedding photographer Kevin Keel has written about how he’s able to work discreetly even at ceremonies where he has two or three photographers.
“The last thing we want is to ‘make a scene’ and part of what makes us different is our established workflow that allows us to know instantaneously where and when each of us needs to be at any particular moment in time. We even go to the extra added effort of using two way radios for those times when we need to talk to each other quickly and quietly.”
Considerations in Choosing Radios
Three things to consider when choosing a two-way radio are size, range, and features, and the CLS Series from Motorola Solutions is perfectly suited for photography professionals.
The Motorola CLS1110 and Motorola CLS1410 are two-way radios that are easy to use, reliable, and weigh less than five ounces. Their rechargeable batteries provide up to 12 hours of battery life, and an available earpiece has an inline push-to-talk microphone. The Motorola CLS Series two-way radios are inexpensive and have plenty of range.
No matter which model you choose, two-way radios help photographers stay in touch in the field, at events, even when caravaning in vehicles. They are helpful in coordinating assistants, and when communications have to be discreet. At just a few ounces, they won’t weigh you down.