People ask me all the time what kind of camera I have. And while having a “nice camera” is only a small part of taking great photos, I do believe that high quality gear (and back up gear!) is important to creating the kind of work that makes me proud. Of course, my gear is not magic, (that would be nice!) but it does have a lot of bells and whistles that I must know how to use. And it has to be second nature so that I have room in my brain for all the other things that I need to think about during a photo session.
And, I always thought it would be funny if people knew how many things actually DO go through my head during a shoot. If you could hear inside my head you’d get a very stream of consciousness flow of things like, “How is the light, I need to make this 3 year old laugh I’ll try animal sounds, need to fix mom’s hair, I should change my shutter speed, little brother has a runny nose better get a tissue, sister is making a goofy face, how should I compose this shot, need to change my aperture, I should shoot this from a different angle, I think the toddler is about to have a meltdown, I think dad might be getting bored, I need to bump my ISO, time to switch lenses, I’m so thirsty, need to adjust the way dad’s standing, I need my reflector, am I talking too much, am I talking too little, the kids are running I’d better change my focus mode, that kid is SO cute, aww they really love each other, ooh the light is SO pretty, they are such a nice family, I love my job.”
Yup, that (and more) is going on in my brain during our session, all the while I am talking your ear off and trying to make you feel comfortable (I think I’m pretty good at it!) all with the air of being calm and collected. And that’s why I need to know my gear inside and out. I don’t have time to look at buttons and figure out which one to press to get the camera to do what I want. It needs to be second nature and I’ve reached that point with a lot of practice and experience.
So, now we’ll get to what kind of camera I use. I thought I’d share my whole kit — because it’s really more than a camera. It’s a combination of gear, and knowing when to use which item:
First off, my camera bag is the Kelly Moore Esther bag. Not only does it hold a camera and at least two more lenses, but I it’s even got a laptop compartment. I use it even when I’m not shooting, because the lens padding inside is removable. After that, starting in the back from left to right, is my trusty Nikon D700, (which doesn’t get a lot of use these days, but it’s good to have as a back up), The Nikon D810 — my workhorse and an unbelievable camera. Behind that is my more recent camera purchase, the Nikon D750, which his getting more use as I find myself using two cameras during sessions more often (one with a wide lens, and one with a long lens. The lenses from left from are my Nikon 50mm 1.4G, next to it is the Nikon 85mm F/1.8G. Behind the 50 is the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG Art. The monster in the back is my favorite — the Nikon 70-200 VRII/f2.8, and to it’s right is the Nikon 24-70mm/f2.8. I’ve also got two Nikon SB-910 speed lights (flashes) in case I need them.
The lens that gets the most use would be the 70-200. I use that for any session that is outdoors. It’s got a long reach, and when used at full zoom, it makes backgrounds beautiful and creamy. Sometimes I use it the entire session, but more often than not I’ll switch to something wide like the 24-70 or a portrait lens like the 85 or 50. It all depends on what I’m shooting, where I’m shooting and the look I’m going for. I know that’s a lot of gear, and yup, it’s expensive, but I really do like having the flexibility of a whole suite of gear to choose from, and I’m often thinking about what I might like to add.
Sometimes I get asked what I use for my personal photos, and the truth is, if I’m not using my D750 (it’s smaller and lighter than the D810 and has built in wifi), I use my trusty iPhone. I bought a Canon G16 two years ago, but I rarely use it. The truth is that the G16 is not second nature to me and I don’t have as much control. However, it is a great point and shoot, so if you are looking for one, I’d say that, or it’s successor is probably a great option (and I might be willing to sell mine — I’ve used it twice!).
So that’s my gear run down (not including all the other things like reflectors, computers, and hard drives and software!), and I hope you found it interesting. I’m always happy to answer camera questions, so shoot me an email!