Carrying Lighting Gear Strobist Tool - Golf Cart DIY

No assistant? Lots of gear to handle yourself? A camera, or more, set of lens, lights, modifiers, stands, a generator and of course bags and only two hands. And how about changings locations a couple of times? How cool does that sound?

Anyone of you photographers who struggle with the challenges of managing all the lighting equipment when going out on location should read this. We had a fantastic opportunity to talk to Alex Win, a photographer standing behind a golf cart that turned into a portable light stand. We asked him a couple of questions that could answer some of your questions and give you a hint on how to improve your work.

Carrying Lighting Gear Strobist Tool - Golf Cart DIY

Delicious Presets:  Alex, what inspired you to create the light stand? Tell us briefly the story behind the idea :-)

Alex Win: As a wedding photographer, I typically will have a 2nd shooter that can help me with lights. However, when I’m shooting an engagement session, I’m pretty much on my own, and I need to be carrying my camera, my shoot bag, light stand, and the killer – the sandbag.  With camera dangling on my side, trying to setup and move a light stand and sandbag was quite a hassle.  I searched online for a solution, but there really wasn’t one except for a couple DIY projects that I based mine on.

DP: What features of the cart make it so unique?

AW: My DIY solution is quite simple that any non-DIY type photographer can put together fairly quickly.  It’s really just obtaining 4 main parts and tightening things together.  No drilling required.

DP:  What about moving it around on different surfaces? Any problems with sand, pebbles or even stairs?

AW: The very nature that this solution is based on a golf cart that’s designed to be easily maneuvered on and around a golf course, makes for a good solution for photographers who may have to maneuver over grass, pebbles, dirt, bridges, sand, and steps.  So far, it’s quite mobile on just about any surface I’ve been on.  Sand can be a problem with any solution as the wheels can dig in and slow you down.  But because you can tilt the golf cart to use only two wheels, there’s less resistance.  I’ve had a 4-wheel garden cartI’ve used on sand before and it took much more pulling effort to move it across the beach.  I thought stairs would be a problem, but if take it up or down slowly like you would your roll-on luggage, you should be fine.  Just make sure to lower your light stand to keep it as stable as possible.

DP:  How safe is it during session? Does it consist any safety features like brakes or any kind of blockers that would nail it so that the equipment stays safe? What about stronger winds? Is the thing stable enough?

AW: Well, there are limits to it.  It comes with a brake on one rear wheel which is good for cases where you’re not on a steep terrain.  But strong winds can be a problem, especially if you opt to use an umbrella.  You do need to make sure that you have sufficient weight in your gear bag to work in stronger winds.  And you do need to be aware that if you don’t have enough weight if the cart is on a slope, even a smaller gust can tip the cart.  My advice is to use common sense – it’s a tool to help you be more mobile but not a fool-proof solution that’s going to endure harsh conditions where even your normal light stand with a sand bag will have problems.

Carrying Lighting Gear Strobist Tool - Golf Cart DIY - Beach session without assistant

[ model: Alexis Pinkney, BTS photo: Kris Pinkney ]

DP:  What essential tips would you give to people willing to build one?

AW: Not all golf carts have shafts that will work well with the clamp I have in my recipe. I know from my experience that my part list will work.  Otherwise YMMV.  Also, make sure not to skip using the velcro as that helps to stabilize the light stand.

DP: What was the biggest challenge when constructing?

AW: There really wasn’t any as far as I remember. There were two things I did have to consult the manual for, and that was related to collapsing the golf cart to make it as small as possible to fit in the trunk.  First one was figuring out how to collapse the handle down, and the 2nd to collapse the front wheel.

DP: Can you use a baby cart for building this?

AW: Perhaps, but my solution depends on a central shaft to keep the weight balanced, and AFAIK there’s no baby cart that has that.

DP:  Are you planning any updates or improvements?

AW: Most definitely.  Folks have inquired about having a light stand that can extend higher.  The current one goes up to close to 6 ft, but some have asked about supporting a stand that can go up to 9 ft or more.

DP: Are you thinking of selling the cart in the future?

AW: Productizing, inventory, marketing, and support for something like this can’t be taken lightly.  So for now, I’m enjoying what I’m doing and sharing with others the same way others have shared with me.

DP: Thank you Alex for you time and sharing this with us. All the best in the future!

Alex Win - Carrying Lighting Gear Strobist Tool - Golf Cart DIY

Alex Win is the owner and photographer at Alex Win Photography. He also runs a  photography blog at Say Cheese where you can read more about the cart.