In my six short years as a photographer, I’ve found that one of the most difficult things to judge when out and about on a photo shoot is what to take with you. It is incredibly tempting to attempt to pack everything you own on the off chance that you might use it; chances are you won’t (that’s right, you heard me; step away from the suitcase and put that kitchen sink back where you found it before someone loses an eye). The trick to travelling light is having a fair idea of what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it long in advance of actually heading out the door. With this in mind, I thought I would put together a few essentials that I always carry with me on a typical day’s shoot for this very blog.
This is the latest addition to my gear collection and (stand back because I’m going to get all emotional here) I love it. Ok, so that wasn’t that emotional, but after the best part of two years of umming and ahhing (are they actual words?) about this bad boy I finally just went ahead and bought it. It’s pretty much perfect for the kind of photography you see on this site. Small, portable, lightweight and actually kind of inconspicuous, it really packs a punch with image quality and it’s pretty handy in low-light situations, too. It’s a tad expensive if you’re just starting out but I really believe that a smaller advanced compact with manual controls such as this, or a compact system camera with interchangeable lenses, is a much smarter buy if you’re are looking to get into photography for the first time. For the most part they are cheaper and the quality of the images they produce is just getting better and better (I talk about this in a bit more detail here, if you’re interested). Anyway, I digress. If, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, then make no mistake, I have a damn awesome camera right here.
The camera I bought while I waited patiently for the X100s to replace the flawed genius of the original X100, this little camera is a great backup for the X100s when we’re out and about on photo shoots. It has the added bonus of a zoom lens (the X100s has a fixed 35mm equivalent focal length lens) and so is pretty handy to have just in case. Oh, and the image quality is pretty darn decent too.
22” Gold/Silver Reflector
Never underestimate the power of a simple reflector. They’re lightweight, portable and super easy to set up. Actually, that last one is a lie. They’re not easy to set up; opening a reflector too quickly is without question the best way to permanently scar your face (you didn’t need a nose anyway right?). Pop-up problems aside, these are a cheap and effective way to shed some additional light on a subject as you can see in the image below (pardon the pun, it was very much intentional). Quick tip: handing a reflector to a friend and asking them to put it away for you is one of life’s great pleasures.
To be honest, for the basic street-style photography we create on a day-to-day basis, that’s pretty much it. Of course, when the mood strikes we do occasionally like to throw caution to the wind and chuck in a couple of flashguns and other light modifiers into the mix, but I’ll save that for another post. It sounds super clichéd but the most important piece of gear to bring with you when out taking pictures of any genre is your brain. If you use it right you can come up with a solution to pretty much any photographic problem you encounter.