I think I've figured out why so many photographers insist on bringing everything they own on every shoot.
It's a safety blanket.
(I leave mine at home.)
I rarely need more than a couple lenses when I'm working. Before the shoot, I think about the subject and environment, decide which camera and lens is best suited for the task at hand, then bring a logical alternative or two.
But the fact of the matter is, I rarely stray from the initial plan. And what additional gear I do bring, often remains in the bag. Sure, I'll change a battery or swap out a memory card. I might even add a filter. But that's about it for extra cirrucular activity.
What I've noticed with my Pelican-case-packing-comrades, is essentially the same. Generally speaking, they are using a lens or two, changing a battery when needed, and that's it.
So why so much stuff?
I think it's the same emotion that leads to overpacking a suitcase for a trip. We bring too much because "we might need it." Just in case. It's insurance.
Insurance is based on numbers. So let's look at the math of overpacking. If you carry 30 extra pounds on 10 trips, that's 300 pounds of discomfort. Divide that by the one or two times that you actually use an extra item. Then look at the resulting photos.
In business, we think in terms of ROI. So my question would be: "What was your return on weight?" I call this RoW.
After this exercise, your conclusion could be that the result clearly justified the bulk. That's great. At least you thought it through. Keep on truckin'.
If your RoW isn't as positive as you'd like, do a test. Think about the next shoot beforehand, carefully select the gear your need, then pack a smaller bag.
If it works out,
this could be the beginning
of a lighter, more nimble, you.