Arsineh Houspian

Photojournalism | Last Updated: July 22, 2023

a bunch of camera equipment that are laying out on a table.
a man standing in front of the sky.
a woman standing in front of a crowd of people.
a man standing next to a truck on a road.
a man and a woman in a kitchen.
a person in a room.
a man sitting at a desk in front of a window.
a group of men sitting in the back of a car.
a man holding a pair of paint brush in his right hand.
a woman standing on top of a roof holding a cup of coffee.
a woman sitting on a couch holding a guitar.
a woman standing next to two horses in a field.
a man standing in front of a large window.

At university, my favourite lighting was the sun, much to my studio lecturer’s dismay. To make things worse, I used a plastic camera for my final year folio, part rebellion, part exploration. I was interested in the ‘why’ in photography and less of the ‘how’.

I was very curious and travelled the world and met some interesting people and followed where my camera took me. One minute I was shooting landscapes on a three-month artist residency at an old piggery in Iceland, next I was shooting bars in New York for their interior design.

Meanwhile, I would toggle back to Melbourne for work as a photographer for the local papers covering everything from human interest stories, editorial features, sports, food, real estate, advertisements and everything in between.

This shaped my ability to work quickly under pressure and I learned a lot.

I’m currently shooting documentaries, editorial features, environmental portraits, and business portraiture for Australian national newspapers, magazines and corporate clients.

More often than not I’m in a fast-paced news environment with chiefs of global companies who have little more than five to ten minutes for a portrait.

I need my gear to work the first time so I can spend my time getting some insight into my subject, and thinking about the photograph while simultaneously setting up and scanning the location.

When I have little time, it must be spent wisely.  When possible, I do as much research as I can on my subject before I turn up to the job, this develops an immediate trust with the subject.  

I like to start with formed but flexible ideas, remaining open to where a shoot may go with a little collaboration and reading the subject’s willingness to explore ideas. 

I like to use available light in conjunction with a portable studio light whether it’s indoors or out. Nothing to plug in as I’m always on location and I need to be able to carry it all myself.

Profoto is my go-to for lighting as quality and consistency are really important to me and it never lets me down.

Since transitioning to digital I’ve always used Canon, just by default as that’s what the papers gave me when I first started out.

Canon EOS 1DX Mark III – up until recently I was working with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and it was okay but I didn’t realise how much it was holding me back.

I haven’t yet become used to the momentary lag as the mirrorless camera finds the frame. I prefer the mechanical feel of the 1DX plus the weight and durability.

The sensor on this Canon is slick and I love the quality while the file size is manageable and fast to process.

Canon 16-35mm f/4 – I love this lens for a wide environmental portrait or documentary work. It’s an f/4 and I can see the benefits of having an f/2.8 but this one seems to work for me.

Canon 35mm f/1.4  – this is a great lens for getting in there and when you need the extra f-stops. I much prefer a prime lens if I’m doing a portrait.

Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 – this is by far my favourite lens for corporate portraits. The right amount of distance and the background makes the subject pop. I prefer this over the 70-200mm if I have the space to use my feet.

Canon 70-200 USM f2.8 – I was never a fan of this lens but I’m starting to like it more and more. It’s great if I’m moving around with a lot to cover but I’d rather not use it for portraits.

Profoto B10x Plus – this is my workhorse and it gets used daily. The light is consistent, makes skin look like velvet and fires every time. Usually paired with two or three softbox lights.

With the softbox, the durability is another important point for me as my gear gets knocked around quite a bit.

Profoto A2 – this is a new addition and I use it when I have even less time, or there is no room or it’s a difficult location.

It’s not as powerful as the B10 so it struggles to compete with daylight, but indoors it does the job for me.

It clicks on the softbox, which I cable tie or gaffer to the light when shooting near water for extra security and I can use the honeycomb and gels which are also magnetic. The less I have to carry the better.

I use the Profoto Air Remote to fire, always have more batteries instead of chargers when I’m out and about and the usual gaffer tape and clips for markers or to hold clothing or things out of the way.

I always clean my lenses with a cloth before and during shoots, someone once told me, “Clean lenses, clean pictures”.

I have a gold and white reflector if I’m lucky to have an assistant or someone to help out if I’m just using one light but usually only pull it out on corporate shoots.

I use an Apple MacBook Pro which needs to be the fastest possible. I’m not particularly focused on the technical side of things at all, I just know I need things to work consistently and fast and this piece of kit helps me get there.

I use a Sandisk Card Reader and the only slow thing in my kit is my hard drive which I use to dump large shoots that don’t need a quick turnaround.

I always have two stands in my car and I usually use the Manfrotto for most things but have the lightweight one just in case I have to go for a big walk to get to where I need to go.

My camera bag carries my lenses, it’s deceivingly spacious and no one would want to steal it. Most camera bags slip off my shoulder but this one just fits really nicely.

I can change lenses pretty fast with easy access so as this bag wears out, I have it repaired by the tailor and it’s been going strong since 2008.


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