Gadgets and Gizmos of Plenty

These are the best Travel Gadgets that I use as a humanitarian photographer


HyperJuice 2 External Battery Pack for MacBook / iPad / iPhone

  • Keeps my laptop charged for up to 18 hours so I can edit on long flights and in the field when I have no electricity
  •  2 USB charging ports that charges iPhone to full power up to 19 times. 
  • have traveled with one of these for 3 years -- can't imagine not having it with me on a trip


Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Charger Surge Protector 

  • I use this to charge  multiple batteries at the same time. 
  • Protects my computer from power surges
  • super small and lightweight
  • Two USB chargers for ipad and iphone


GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip

  • Make coffee ANYWHERE in the world with hot water

  • It folds up like a pancake. All you need is coffee + coffee filters

  •  I take this on every single trip


Osprey Meridian Wheeled Luggage, 28-Inch/


Before I purchased this bag, I would go through a new checked bag nearly every year. 

  • Osprey bags are amazing - i've used this bag for almost 4 years and it still looks new.
  • lifetime warranty

  • fits my clothes, stands and softboxes

  • Has a detachable backpack you can use for day hikes 

  • Suitcase turns into a backpack if needed

  • 28" long


Ona Camps Bay Camera and Laptop Backpack - Smoke

  • I've been traveling with a Camps Bay backpack for about 3 years
  • It's my favorite travel backpack for the field
  • It holds my SLR, a few lenses, harddrives and my 15" laptop 
  • Waxed canvas and doesn't look like a typical camera bag
  • It's super comfortable


Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash

  • This is one of my favorite off camera lights to use in the field
  • You will also need to buy the Canon Transmitter to make it fire from your SLR
  • Newly designed wireless system uses 2-way radio wave communication for enhanced communication among master and slave units.
  • I use the 30" Foursquare Softbox with two canon 600's 


Door Stop Alarm

  • Put this in any door to jam it and if someone were to break the lock and try to open the door a huge alarm goes off
  • A must have travel device for women
  • requires a 9v battery which you should take out while traveling


Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Portable Printer w/ film

  • I wouldn't travel without these!! Prints my iphone photos from an app over it's own wireless signal.
  • Comes with 5 packs of film - 50 photos
  • As I've traveled, i've learned that it's not good to give handouts such as money to people in developing countries. Sometimes children are beat up for this by others who want to steal that money. Printing a photo of someone is a way to give a gift to a person that is only valuable to that person. Nobody is going to want a picture of another person. It's a great way to give to people without hurting them.


WD 1TB Silver My Passport for Mac

  • I've used these drives for years. I buy 3 at a time. Two travel with me and one stays at home. I back up to that drive when I'm stateside. I haven't had one fail on me yet. 
  • Ultra-fast transfer rates with USB 3.0 interface
  • 3 year limited warranty


Pelican 1010 Micro Case w/Solid Lid

  • I use this to store my harddrives while traveling. it can fit up to two
  • Great for those times when you are on a small boat and nervous your harddrives could get wet
  • Watertight crushproof and dust proof


Field Notes 3.5"x5.5" Kraft Plain - 48 pages

  • I use these all the time for taking notes in the field. I always want to have a piece of paper nearby to write down a name or jot down some information I hear from someone. These are small enough to keep in my back pocket
  • Comes in a pack of 3


Think Tank Airport Takeoff Rolling Backpack

  • I use this bag to carry on my heavier equipment and breeze right through airports 
  • Holds a TON of equipment
  • It doubles as a backpack if needed
  • Front lock & cable to secure laptops, with lockable sliders on main zipper
  • If on a small airplane I can fit this under the seat in front of me


Profoto B1  500 AirTTL 

  • I've been using the B1 strobe for about a year now. It's so easy to setup quickly and use in the field.  
  • Light enough to travel with as a carry-on 
  • Cordless / Battery Powered - I can usually get through a whole day on 1 full powered battery
  • Beautiful Light


Insulated Miir water Bottle

  • I don't go on any trip without this
  • Keeps coffee HOT for HOURS
  • It keeps cold liquids cold for hours
  • I can carabiner it to the outside of my bag
  • Your purchase  brings clean drinking water to villages in need


EO Hand Sanitizer 

  • Made with organic lavender essential oil....this Hand Sanitizer smells INCREDIBLE
  • It doesn't feel sticky like most
  • 99.9% effective against most common germs


Ultra Soft PackTowl 

  • Soaks up to 4x it's weight in water
  • Machine wash or hand washable
  • Compact and dry's fast
  • Lasts years!


Mefoto Aluminium Backpacker Travel Tripod

  • Weighs 2.6 pounds so it doesn't take up weight in my checked back 
  • It can support up to 8.8 pounds of gear
  • I never feel like i'm having to lug around a huge tripod and it does the job
  • Twist lock leg system for quick setup


Hammock Bliss Sleep Sack

  • I love this sleep sack! There was one time I slept on wet towels in a hospital dorm room in Haiti because I brought no bedding. After that trip, a friend sent me this amazing sack to sleep in and I've brought it with me on almost every trip since. 
  • Soft & lightweight
  • I sleep in this inside of the sleep sack inside of the hotel sheets at risky hotels.


Mini jambox by jawbone

  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Super small and lightweight
  • Loud enough to play music for a whole village :-)

BESTEK 150W Power Inverter Car

  • Converts 12-volt DC power from a vehicle battery to 110volt AC power for charging USB decices and powering small devices such as my laptop computer and charging batteries
  • I've used this many times when I don't have access to electricity in a village and I need to charge equipment


Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

  • I would never go on any trip without this lens. I believe it's the best portrait lens out there. I love the shallow depth of field and how I can get close to my subjects with it. 
  • Fixed 50mm prime lens
  • AF with full-time manual focus
  • Weather-resistant standard lens


Pelican 0915 Black SD Memory Card Protective Case

  • Holds 12 SD cards
  • Water resistant hardshell case
  • Compact


Steve Madden Women's Troopa 2.0 Combat Boot

  • I've travelled with the Steve Madden Combat Boots for about 4 years now. They've been such an affordable and durable boot. I've had to have them fixed up with stitching a glue a couple of times in Rwanda and Ethiopia.....but they are still going strong today. 
  • Leather and zips up on the inner boot so you can put them on quickly if you need to run out the door.


Kammok Roo Hammock


  • I do love my coffee and if you know me, you know that I can be pretty clumsy at times. This has been so helpful in not spilling my coffee. You can just throw it on it's side and it doesn't leak. It's great for filling it up and throwing it in a bag.
  • Keeps coffee hot for 7+ hours
  • Lifetime Warranty


Pack & Smooch Hampshire Laptop case

  • I've been using this felt laptop case for my 15" mac book pro for about 2 years. It still looks brand new. I get stopped all the time at coffee shops and on trips where someone will ask me where I got it. 
  • Handmade in Germany


Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

  • The Canon 5d mk III is my main camera I shoot with. Mine has taken many many beatings and survived. Sometimes I think it's an extension of my hand when i'm shooting
  • It is has a 22MP full frame sensor
  • It's a bit pricey for someone who is just starting out...but sometimes it's worth the investment to get the camera that will help you get an income

Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It

  • This is the best for keeping your clothes organized and compacted. I really don't like it when my clothes are all over the place. This keep your clothes in one pack together in your suitcase
  • Pretty durable and made out of nylon

Giving Tuesday

Today is #GIVINGTUESDAY  and I decided to put together a great list of ways you can give back through various organizations I have worked with and ones that I love. These are people that I buy from and give to!


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Exile International provides art therapy to former child soldiers in Uganda and The DR Congo. My friend Bethany is the founder and I love sitting with her and hearing stories of life transformation from their kids. Right now they are in need $20,000 to finish a protection wall around one of the centers in DR Congo that serves 115 kids - The Nehemiah Project. The elections are coming up and this is a safety wall that they must have. Today every dollar is matched up to 20K 


For $35 you can give coal for Christmas! It's actually soap though and people love it. And now, it provides one woman in Kenya with a charcoal-efficient stove. The Adventure Project creates jobs across the globe giving men and women the chance to lift themselves out of poverty. This is a great gift to give your friends and family:


JOYN takes artisans living in poverty and joins them with the thriving fashion world. Each step of our process is done by hand—creating more jobs, bringing more joy, and connecting more artisans with YOU. I have personally worked with them for years and love visiting their artisans in India. Countless stories of families living their dreams because of this company. They make beautiful products. 


Sponsor a child! This is my sponsored child Kevine and I love writing letters with her and visiting her in Rwanda. She wasn't in school when I met her and is now attending class everyday and learning English. I recently wrote about why I choose to sponsor her in the text below. It is a long term commitment to choose to do this but there are few greater organizations to choose sponsorship through than Africa New Life. It was started by a Rwandan and the majority of the staff are Rwandan - I love that! I not only get to work on stories for them but I also support them financially and visit yearly. 

This is little Kevine that I once photographed as a baby in 2008 and then went back go find her last year and enrolled in the sponsorship program. "I sponsor because education not only changes the course of a child’s life, but can also change the whole family’s life and bring them out of poverty. I want to see more of that happening in the world. I actually used to not be supportive of sponsorship programs, but after listening to countless stories of children who wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to school unless they were sponsored and hearing from entrepreneurs building business because they were once sponsored, my thoughts on it began to shift. No child should ever grow up without learning to read and write. I sponsor because it’s one of the small things I can do each month to see direct impact happen in a person’a life. It also creates a bridge between you and that person on the other side of the world to communicate and build a relationship together that could last a lifetime."


If you want to buy products that GIVE BACK - check out Love 41. I recently got the Simple Tote in Tabacco and i'm so in love with it! The best part is that love41 gives 100% of their proceeds to Africa New Life's programs to help widows and orphans in need. And Yes, I wrote that right. 100% 





Preemptive Love Coalition is known for their life saving heart surgeries for children. They do a lot more than that these days. They have jumped into the role of providing emergency relief for families displaced in Iraq. I know many people have asked how to give to refugees. I believe this would be a great organization to consider for that. 

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Raven and Lily works with women artisans in 9 countries to provide jobs for over a thousand people. I have photographed with them a few times in India, Kenya and Ethiopia and fell in love with the women making their products. Their jewelry and home goods will make great Christmas gifts! 



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I had the gift to capture photos and stories for FashionABLE in Ethiopia last summer. They are know for investing in women across the world!

Great products and Christmas Presents that are creating jobs! 


I've travelled with The Seed Company quite a bit over the past couple of years. I am quick to tell people to invest in their Bible Translation work because it's AMAZING. They are partnering with incredible organizations that training locals to translate the Bible orally in the more remote parts of the world. If we really want to see Life Transformation happen.. I believe this is the way we start. You can read some of the stories that i've worked with them on Exposure

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In their own words......Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams.

I have a pair of these Blue Suede booties and love them! 


ONA bag Giveaway!



{See details at bottom of this post}
Taj Mahal - Agra, India - photo by Jordan Leassig 

Taj Mahal - Agra, India - photo by Jordan Leassig 

Botswana - photo by Kelsi Klembara 

Botswana - photo by Kelsi Klembara 

Hiking with Austin Mann during LTW - Photo by Jordan Leassig

Hiking with Austin Mann during LTW - Photo by Jordan Leassig

Hiking in the Himalayan Mountains - photo by Jordan Leassig

Hiking in the Himalayan Mountains - photo by Jordan Leassig

Managua, Nicaragua - photo by Constance Dykhuizen

Managua, Nicaragua - photo by Constance Dykhuizen

My ONA bag was a great "ride" for children in Botswana :-) photo by Kelsi Klembara

My ONA bag was a great "ride" for children in Botswana :-) photo by Kelsi Klembara

I always wanted to find a camera bag that didn't look like a typical black camera bag. A bag that didn't scream out to everyone that I'm a photographer. I travel to some pretty risky places at times so that is super important to me.

When I saw the Camps Bay Backpack on ONA's website, I knew I wanted it. It was the bag that I imagined bringing on a trek in the mountains with me, working in the field in Africa, or hopping on a train in India with. Well for 2 years now I have been traveling with the ONA Camps Bay Backpack and it has truly become one of my favorites! What I love about this bag is that it fits right into it's surroundings wherever I am.

The material is made out of a waxed leather canvas which makes for a pretty light bag when my gear not in it and the look of the canvas ages really well. The inside has several soft dividers that are all adjustable and removable. It holds my 15" macbook pro in a padded compartment and can fit up to a 17" laptop.  I love that the top flap of the bag covers this compartment, because if i'm in a busy street market, I don't want someone to be able to just unzip a zipper and remove my laptop. The two clasps on the front allow for easy access to my camera gear when I need it really fast. The flap hides the zipper, so again, if you are in a busy area, your camera gear would be hard difficult to get it. The straps are comfortable made out of a thick air mesh padding.  I've had other bags that have caused me all sorts of back problems and this bag seems to hold it's weight well. The canvas is not waterproof so I usually carry a backpack rain jacket and throw it over it when it starts to pour down hard. Although I have gotten it wet before in light rainstorms and the canvas still looks great.  

I get compliments on my Camps Bay all the time (many from individuals who are not even photographers) I think that speaks volumes about the bag in terms of style. Multiple times, people have stopped me in airports and asked me where I got my backpack. So here it is. I wanted to make sure you know about it! And Thanks to ONA you all have a chance to have one of your own. 

Having fun with a Canon Speedlight and the charity: water team in Botswana

Having fun with a Canon Speedlight and the charity: water team in Botswana


I've made this really simple. My good friends Becky Straw & Jody Landers at the The Adventure Project are nominated to win $50K in the Diane Von Furstenberg awards and All they need is our vote! 

The Adventure Project wants to create jobs all over the world for people. In four years, the organizations has employed 745 entrepreneurs in india, Haiti, Kenya and Uganda which include well mechanics, healthcare workers, farmers and stove masons. Together they serve over one million people each day. I've had the priveledge of photographing stories for The Adventure Project in all over those countries. I have seen first hand the impact that they've had in communities. I say this a lot and I mean it -- Every person wants a good job. If there is one thing that I truly see that brings people out of poverty, it's being employed and making a livable wage.

People all over the world want the same things: the opportunity to care for their families, send their kids to school, and lead healthy lives. Aid is always appreciated, but a job has the power to move an entire family out of poverty forever.


And the WINNER IS: Corrie matchell 

I have a feeling she's going to take her new ONA Bag on some pretty fun adventures around the world! 


Tell me.......If you were to win, where would you take your ONA bag on your next Adventure?

Connect with Esther!