When people say “You take such great photos, what camera do you have?”, I’ve always likened that to asking someone that brings a beautiful cake to a party which oven they baked it in. To me, it’s not just about the gear.
Sure the gear needs to be working well and capable of taking a sharp image, but we don’t oooh and ahhh over the best photos in the world simply because they’re tack sharp, do we?
It’s the creative use of light, colour and composition. And above all, it’s the storytelling. Story trumps all. But great gear sure does help…
I’m a lifestyle photographer and educator living in Auckland, New Zealand. When I’m not photographing my own uncooperative, comically dressed brood, I’m capturing authentically beautiful stories for other families and brands.
I am a firm believer that there’s beauty in the small, real moments of connection. So that’s what I try to show in all of my photos.
I shoot on a Nikon D750 – it’s been very good to me. I’m also a prime lens girl at heart. My 35mm Tamron f/1.8 is my go-to lens. I love Tamron lenses because they offer exceptional quality at an affordable price.
I use natural light 99.9% of the time (although, if Profoto wanted to shout me a B10 that could change!).
When out adventuring I travel light using a Herringbone backpack. It has saved my back and shoulders compared to the heavy leather shoulder bag I used to haul around.
For in-home or on-location client work, I bring everything else in my ThinkTank Airport Airstream roller. I LOVE that bag! Not least because it makes me feel like a pilot reporting for duty.
I have a fair amount of gear that I don’t really use much, and a few treasured pieces that I would be lost without. Here’s my most frequently used gear.
GoPro Hero 7 Black – I love that this little guy lets me get in the water with my kids. Works best outdoors with ample light and near to the surface of the water. I also love that it’s durable build and tiny size means I can throw it in my pocket and feel confident letting the kids use it to photograph themselves. I purchased a dual charger, multiple spare batteries because these cameras chew through the battery super quick.
Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD – Easily my most used and most loved lens. Best for in-home shooting. It’s super fast, sharp and a wide enough lens to work in a lot of tight spaces.
Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD – Used sparingly for portrait work and outdoor scenes. I love the compression but find it operates best between about f/2.8 and 4.
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 – A client shoot workhorse! If I’m headed out and only want to take one lens, it’s this one for the ability to get nice wide storytelling angles as well as portraits. I wish it had a wider max aperture, but at least it will do 2.8 through the whole range.
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 – I use this lens infrequently. Mostly for portrait work when I have to do headshots in relatively tight spaces. It is crisp and super light, but I just never really feel like the 50mm focal length suits my storytelling style. So it doesn’t get out much.
Lensbaby Edge 35mm with Composer Pro kit – A relatively new addition to my kit. Something I bought just as a creative toy.
PolarPro 50/50 dome and buoyant handle – Above and below shots look awesome with this dome provided it’s been wiped down with water repellant first.
Nikon SB-700 Speedlight – Used only when truly, absolutely no natural light is available. I’ll use this on camera and bounce the light off a ceiling or window.
A 32″ 5-in-1 reflector and a DIY scrim.
Think Tank Airport Airstream Roller (I think it’s been replaced by this newer model which includes the Laptop Pocket). I love the capacity and security of these compact roller bags.
Herringbone camera backpack – I love this lightweight canvas backpack with internal padding. I also purchased a rainproof cover for it from a tramping store.
Hardware & Software
Lenspen & DigiKlear Pen – Never leave home without these and some microfibre lens cloths for keeping my gear clean and dust free.
Apple 27″ iMac – I’m probably one of the few photographers who doesn’t work portably!
Wacom Intuos Pro – I can’t edit with a mouse or a trackpad. I use my Wacom pad and pen for everything.
Seagate 2TB or 4TB external hard drives – For saving LR catalogs and exported client files.
My favourite SD cards are either Lexar Professional or Sandisk Extreme Pro 170 MB/s 128 GB.
My MiGoals Goal Digger planner, diet coke and Whittakers dark chocolate keep me motivated and on task.
Every one of my camera bags contains a small first aid kit stocked with plasters, sanitising wipes, hair ties and tissues. You never know what you might need photographing kids!
When shooting client work, I also tend to wear a white t-shirt. It’s one more thing to reflect light.
Not pictured here are my backdrop stand (for headshots & portraits), a cupboard full of newborn wraps and blankets and a small section of my pantry dedicated to styling props for when I feel fanciful about food photography.
Remember, no matter the gear, your best and most important tool is your creative eye (I didn’t include a picture of that here because ew). Trust your gut. Look for storytelling elements and love the gear that helps you to bring that vision to life.
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