I’m Andy, an American born photographer currently based in Tokyo, Japan. To make ends meet, I shoot a range of assignments including portrait, editorial, commercial, and travel photography commissions in Japan, throughout Asia, and beyond.
For years, I primarily used Canon gear. My first 35mm film cameras were all from the Canon line and when I made the move to digital, my first DSLRs were Canon products. I started with the Canon 6D and ended up with a Canon 5D Mark IV as my primary body and a Canon 5D Mark III as a backup.
For most of my commercial assignments, I used the Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II packed with my Canon DSLRs and Sigma Art Series prime lenses. The set-up wasn’t too cumbersome for commercial photography projects near home.
But like so many other DSLR users, I found a heap of issues with my DSLR kit while shooting projects that required extensive travel.
My primary issue with my DSLR kit was weight. What happens when you lug 45 pounds of gear around when you are on an editorial or travel assignment? Among other inconveniences, you will likely break your back.
I have always had back trouble and, after a few commissions that wreaked havoc on my body, I decided that it was time to move to a more conducive set-up for all of my photography work.
My first experience with a mirrorless system was in 2015 when I purchased a Fujifilm X-T1. I loved the design, in-camera options, and ease of mobility the Fujifilm X-T1 provided. Artistically, I felt refreshed using the electronic viewfinder and found that the camera helped me see and capture light.
When I started to receive travel and editorial commissions more frequently, I made the switch to Fujifilm’s mirrorless system and started shooting with X-Series bodies and lenses for the majority of my work.
I currently utilize the Fujifilm X-T3 as my primary body and have the Fujifilm X-T2 as well as a Fujifilm X-H1 (when I need the added in-camera stabilization) as backups. To help with ergonomics, I have all of my camera bodies outfitted with bamboo grips made by the fine folks at JB Camera Designs.
Depending on the situation or assignment, I fluctuate between zoom and prime lenses. I love the versatility of zooms and usually opt for the Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8 when roaming around.
But when I hone in on a subject, I’ll switch my workhorse for a Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4, Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4, or Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 X-Series lens. I prefer the speed and the overall aesthetic of prime lenses and couldn’t ask for a better line-up of primes than the glass on offer from Fujifilm’s X-Series.
Slowly but surely, I am packing lighter by using Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II. Over the years I have tried several bags and have not found anything on the market that trumps this mid-sized backpack.
There is a padded slot for my Apple MacBook Pro and an upper compartment that has just enough space to house a DJI Mavic Pro drone. Moreover, I can attach my Manfrotto BeFree Travel Tripod without any trouble. My bag can hold a significant amount of kit but it does force me to be selective when packing.
I often utilize flash equipment while on assignment and have honed my travel photography lighting rig down to a bare minimum. Typically, I will pack a Godox AD200 unit and the Godox X2T-F TTL 2.4G Wireless Flash Trigger for its high-speed sync support.
If needed, I will modify the flash with an extremely portable SMDV Speedbox 70 softbox and mount the flash on either my Manfrotto BeFree Travel Tripod or a Manfrotto Nano Light Stand.
This compact lighting rig, carried in a Manfrotto MB MBAG80PN Bag, helps me add a pop of light from time to time without adding too much weight to my overall kit.
I use an iMuto 30000mAh Portable Charger X6 and a Wasabi Power dual charger to power up a handful of Li-ion battery NP-W126S batteries when there isn’t an electricity source available.
I travel with eight SanDisk 64GB Memory Cards and have a LaCie Rugged 2TB HardDrive to back-up all my images on the road. To fill up my remaining space allotment, I keep some business cards, Uni-ball ink-glider pen, Zeiss cleaning wipes, and a small journal.
All in all, I am incredibly happy with my current photography kit. I have everything I could want or need to do my best work.