I get asked what's in my camera bag A LOT! Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered people think I'm knowledgable about tech stuff so I'm happy to offer insight. So I thought today would be a good time as any to do a detailed post about all my gear and what I use for shooting for Day 14 of the 30 work-day blogging challenge.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to do the research and figure out what you are and aren't looking for. The biggest advice I can offer is going to a Best Buy or local camera shop and hold the cameras themselves to see what speaks to you. See how the body is laid out and if it's easy to learn. Figure out what brand you want and stick with it because it's an investment. You'll want to gradually buy more and it's easier to buy within brand line. Keep in mind the value is behind the lens, not the camera itself. Lenses are versatile across camera bodies and are made to last several through generations of technology upgrades. For a big bang for your buck, B&H Camera is a good place to shop but price compare all over online no matter what, to make sure you aren't getting ripped off. Retail value is inevitable in the shopping process but surcharges can be avoided.
Camera Bodies: I currently shoot on the Nikon D810 for all my work and have a second D810 body as an insurance policy in case anything happens to my main camera body. I also like to have one camera with a long lens and another with a short so I don't have to spend time switching lens out. It's important to have two camera bodies on me especially after booking important jobs. You wouldn't want to have to cut a shoot short because of some sort of technical difficulties. The reason for two of the same cameras is so that the quality and color is consistent across the board for the images I produce.
85mm f1.4: The 85mm was the first lens I ever fell in love with and in turn started my obsession with manual shooting a few years ago. When I first purchased it, it didn't come off my camera for months. Even though I have a variety of lenses to choose from, the 85mm is my go-to for portraits because it allows me to not be on top of the person for the up-close look and occasionally for shooting on location when the background is too busy and I need to blur it up a bit to give it that finished look.
35mm f1.2: The 35mm is another great all-rounder lens for me—it's one step away from being a macro lens so it really gets the wide angle look without the price tag. I find that this lens is on my camera the majority of the time. I love shooting with portraits with it (as unconventional as it may be). The 35mm is sharp 95% of the time, even when you shoot with a wide open aperture of 1.4. I only shoot with a wide aperture for personal work, and usually bump up the aperture to 2 or more when shooting for clients.
24-55mm f1.4: This wide angle lens is a compelling wide-angle perspective combined with an ultra-fast f/1.4 aperture that serves the needs of demanding photographers in exacting conditions like weddings where time is of the essence. This is my 3rd most used lens. It also has VR compatibility so I am able to do some video footage if needed.
70-300mm f4-5.6: This telephoto lens is obviously good for situations where you need to zoom in from a stationary spot. Example, churches with strict photography policies and you gotta prop up in the back and get all the action at the front.
55-300mm f4.5-5.6: More flexibility in this telephoto lens with the extra 15 mm compared to the 70-300mm, and it's also good when you don't want to start out with so much zoom while on shoot.
Speedlight SB- 900: First off, I tried to buy the 910 but with it being ~$800 for one flash, the SB-900 is next best thing. This bad boy has so much lighting power that sometimes you could mistaken a dark day with sunshine just from the light this flash provides. I use this flash on body as well as remotely for strong backlight. ~$300
Speedlight SB-700: Great option when you don't need so much power or light, but just enough to avoid unwanted shadows. This flash also provides a great option for remote flash lighting. ~$350
Induro Tripod: as tiny and insignificant as it looks, this guy is actually well over $400 on a good day —these suckers aren't cheap but they are quality and its sturdiness and light weight will outnumber any other competitor tripods out there. I've been in some sketchy terrain situations and this tripod has never let me down. *Knock on wood.*
D12 Multi-power Battery Pack: Batteries have one constant. They will die. So yes, battery packs are a huge plus. Again, this luxury isn't cheap at ~$425 but it can save your neck. It also offers the option to shoot portrait without having to cock your head sideways.
Memory Cards (not pictured): With long days of shooting, comes a lot of pictures, like thousands so it should come as no surprise that you should invest in several memory cards. Most of my CF cards are either 16 GB or 32 GB Rugged (temperature and shock resistant). I keep them small to force myself to change out often for a liability reason. The idea of having all my photos on one card gives me so much anxiety if something were to ever happen to them. Card Corruption is a very real occurrence and has even happened to my second-shooters from weddings. If you have a shoot with less pressure, it's good to have a large SD card to allow you a full day of shooting, come home and download and go back to work and not worry about deleting right away. The provides you the comfort of having the original copies until you have the time to double check and make sure that all the images downloaded correctly.
What I take with me. Now, all this gear is super heavy and not always needed for every single shoot. Depending on what I am set out to work on for the day, I pick and choose the gear I need to take with me for the day. The gear that is always in my camera bag includes: 2 camera bodies, all my camera batters + memory cards and all the little extras such as water and food. The gear that I pick and choose what to take with me include: lenses and speedlights. The majority of the time I only take 2 or sometimes 3 lenses that I might need for a day instead of all them, so I don't strain my body when I have to walk around with my camera bag. With all the equipment, it can easily feel like 50 pounds after 5 minutes. After every wedding with two cameras on my body, I always wonder how I'm going to survive it when old age sets in. Between being on your feet for 8 plus hours and carrying 25-30 pounds on you— It's a very physical job so it's important to drink LOTS of water and get a good night's sleep.
Okay, I know that was a lot of words for a picture world so let me know if you have any questions about gear. There's no silly questions either—you don't know if you don't ask.
I know y'all are happy it's Labor Day Weekend so go enjoy it! I will check back in on Tuesday with Day 15 of the 30 work-day blogging challenge.
Day 13 of the 30 work day blogging challenge, here goes nothing.
Thirteen is a magical number, it brings bad luck or it brings nostalgia for movies like 13 Things I Hate About You (one of my favorites because, romance—duh).
I’m a 95% positive person and hate is a strong word for me so please don’t take it literally when I say that I hate being creative. Just having an influx of creativity can have some drawbacks though (in a humorous way). In every day work life, it could lead me to spending way too long on a graphic design project and not able to settle because it’s not creative enough or it’s not unique enough, when really, what I’ve created usually does the job. Usually when this happens, I end up charging for less time because I know in reality I should not have been spending as long as I did on it. A part of me believes this stems from my people-pleasing personality—making sure my clients are 100% happy and continue to need me. Another part of me is a digital art perfectionist and another tiny part of me just wants it to be the best work I’ve done yet. That’s the competitive nature in me.
For example, there was this Music with Friends ad I had to design a few weeks ago for a Houston magazine called City Books and I was given about 10 hours notice (no one’s fault, just a calendar mishap) and I had to design something to advertise an upcoming Mavericks and all the personality they embody. I had to make it FUN to join Music with Friends and to watch legendary artists at an incredible venue in Houston, Texas. I was stumped after several hours of working on it in a coffee shop. I couldn’t make it POP, or at least I didn’t think I could. Then this past week, I had to make another ad for different upcoming show with Gladys Knight and I had two weeks notice so of course the pressure was off, but still— I ended up liking this one SO much better and of course I spent way too long on this one as well. My creative perfectionist side was at a full fledge 100% nerd status.
Here’s a comparison of the two ads:
On the same token, being creative with food photography can be tricky too. When I try to do food photography, I end up thinking things like “Now why on earth did the chef put a horrible piece of lettuce under this gorgeous steak?” Sure, that’s attention to detail, but when you’re on a time constraint and on a social media agenda, you can’t worry about that nonsense.
Being creative can even affect the way I speak to people via e-mail. I kid you not, I try to find the most creative way to say the most simple things ie. “I would be honored to be your wedding photographer,” and I catch myself saying things like “Darling, I would be over the moon to capture photos that would make you and Doug cry when it’s all over. These photos are going to be the photos you’ll treasure forever.” Then I hit the backspace before I even re-read what I just said because who needs that kinda cheese?
In the private life, being a creative makes me want to do things like buy the coolest lamp in the world. Overhead lighting is the death of me, so everywhere I go, I somehow manage to find the neatest lamp in the place. One time, I even asked a restaurant if they’d sell a lamp to me when it was clearly not for sale. It’s weird I know, but lamps can make a place so welcoming. My poor husband has been listening to me talk about lamps for a godforsaken amount of time (he’ll vouch for this) and keeps telling me to wait to buy furniture until we have our own home. I can never bring myself to buy them anyway because are they really worth two, three hundred dollars? What makes them that valuable? The lampshade must have come from Jesus himself, my lawd. Let it shine in that store. I ain’t going to get it when I can buy three weeks worth of groceries for that amount of money. But then I come home and look at my ugly target lamps made from China. *sigh*
Having creativity is definitely something I appreciate every day though— it allows me to think outside the box. For example, Jess and I have been looking at potential houses to buy and I immediately visualize how much better it could be with that wall knocked out or that carport turned into a master bedroom, or that bathroom with new tile. But of course, the creative side meets the rational side when I realize that we don’t have a million dollars or a show on HGTV for a home renovation.
13 things I hate about being creative:
1. Makes you spend too long on projects.
2. You notice little things like a bitty piece of lettuce in budget food photography projects.
3. Lamps are everywhere you go and you want to buy all of them to make your house pretty.
4. You can visualize a ranch house into a $500,000 floor plan you can't afford.
5. You spend 8 days trying to name a cat a cool, memorable name and you end up at Jazzy?
6. You feel like you have to have photographs all over your house because you are after all... a photographer.
7. You spend a grand for your master bedroom fabric because you think that's what creative adulting means.
8. You wish that all your Instagram photos and postings were consistent but you really just don't have time for that.
9. You think that every inspirational quote is generic when it might change most people's lives.
10. You do out-0f-box things and people don't give you credit. Once I tried to convince a company that had a penguin logo to hire me by hiring a bakery to make sixty dollars worth of custom penguin cookies for them and a week after I delivered cookies to them, I see that they tried to claim it was their idea when they tried to deliver cookies to their clients as customer appreciation token. See photo below for proof.
11. You are constantly coming up with marketing plans for your business but never have time because you have to put your customers first (as you should).
12. Creativity involves all the software these days so you have to subscribe to use anything nowadays. For example, creative cloud, I ended convincing myself I needed the entire adobe platform versus just a couple of softwares.... why?
13. You never know when to stop. You'll find yourself blogging at 11 o'clock at night so you can maintain a 30-day blogging challenge because you feel like this is how you stand out. Irony right?
Do y’all relate to this nonsense at all? Do you think I’m babbling? Probably. But hey, I’m trying to be creative just writing that sentence so I better stop before I re-read this hellish blog I just wrote on the fly.
Changing the subject: I often get asked about cameras from friends because apparently I look knowledgeable in that area but I’m about as educated as you are until I force myself to just peruse the online market. For Day 14 of the 30-day blogging challenge, I’ll be talking about my equipment, how I shopped for it and what I recommend camera enthusiasts to look out for in the research and shopping process. No, I’m not going to have a bunch of lingo in this blog post—it’ll be in English.
Aforementioned penguin cookies.