The Five Secret Little Weapons in my Camera Bag
Stuff. This is where photography can either be an endless drain on your pocketbook, or an exciting and constant adventure for new things to streamline and enhance your work and workflow. I’m somewhere in the middle. I probably spent too much time early in my career chasing every new little doohickey, only to discover it sitting in a box somewhere after months of non-use. Today, I’m very very careful about what I choose to spend money on or add to my bag. It has to up the game in some significant way. To that end, here’s some little things that easily fit in the bag that I’m pretty fond of:
This little video camera is my number one secret weapon. It’s remarkably little for what it does, which is a lot: 1080 video (on a gimbal), motion lapse, and stills, to name a few. At any event shoot I cover, this handy little device gets me quick footage to add to my deliverables that always wow my clients. Especially the motion-lapse, which is easily the most impressive thing I get on top of my regular photos. It never ceases to please my clients and looks amazingly cool. I’ve had them work their way into movies, bts video, corporate presentations, social media and websites. Pretty great considering nobody ever asked me for it. I like it as a value add to my services. But it’s also a great way to capture my days with something artful. Great for the quick content you need to market yourself with.
You can also plug your phone into it, too, which gives you a better screen and the ability to download your files to your device, for impressively fast delivery.
Also from DJI, this hard drive is a traveling photographer’s best friend. It features a slot for SD cards and a minimal touchscreen on the drive itself that allows you to quickly copy over files in minutes. At 2TB, this drive can handle a lot. I did a three-week tour with a musician, capturing over 1000 shots a day and this thing was a champ. When I needed to organize the files, I simply connected my phone and used the mobile app to deal with it all. This is a huge improvement on using a laptop to manage files while on the road.
300 MB/S SD Cards
These (expensive) high-speed SD cards are a game changer. Write speed to an SD card can make a big difference in how fast your camera will shoot (or how long it will shoot fast, as at some point it will need to get all those big files off to the disk after a big burst of shooting). But then there’s the saved time getting images off the cards too. This is a really nice feature when you’re pressed for time or on the road doing transfers in coffee shops and on set.
Shutter Release Cable
This is an old school item, but it’s one of those things that is deceptively helpful for a number of occasions. Nothing like a shutter release to eliminate camera shake and practically guarantee detail.
But it also pulls me away from the camera a bit, allowing me to look around and direct my shoots. I can work with a model or a landscape and feel much more connected when holding a shutter release. I’m taking pictures and talking, or thinking, at the same time, rather than switching mindsets from shooter to “normal person.”
And of course, an essential tool when doing long exposure and nighttime photography. It’s a staple of mine when doing event photography — especially corporate booths, when I need to get crisp environmental shots in high-traffic areas.
And speaking of old school luxuries, this not-very-digital item that always travels with me has been a trusty friend and one of my professional advantages at nearly all my recent shoots. I don’t have to tell you that there’s just something special about film. Different texture, different way of capturing light — it just looks different. I do well over 100 shoots a year, so I’m well familiar with the digital workflow and I still get excited at seeing the images come in. But there’s nothing like getting film images back. No matter how great a shoot was, it’s always these images coming back from the developer that get my heart racing and remind me why I love this profession so much.
My 35mm film work rarely gets me the kind of sharpness or overall coverage that my digital cameras get, but there are always a handful of images from my film rolls that are completely unique and loved by my clients. As the world goes digital, the film camera is a great tool for images that most photographers won’t get and has the ability to set you apart.
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