Billy Heath

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Light and portable, no exceptions. The last thing I want while trekking up a mountain in Sub-Saharan Africa or sprinting after a tuk-tuk in Thailand is to be sucking wind because my gear bag is too heavy.

My work as a humanitarian and non-profit photographer has taken me to various destinations around the globe. I am passionate about telling the stories of people and organizations making a difference in the world today. In my short twenty-four years I’ve learned many lessons the hard way, by trial and error. If you are considering the life of passport stamps and layovers let me save you some time with this invaluable tip – pack lightly and give yourself a high-five if you’ve managed to weigh in at under thirty pounds.

My first “real camera” was a Nikon D90. It really did the trick for me and I’ve been a Nikon fanboy ever since, admittedly I sometimes think about picking up a Canon body simply because a lot of my favorites shooters (Jeremy Cowart, Joey L, Colby Brown) carry a Canon in their kit or have at one point in their career.

I’m always on the move, because of that every item in my gear bag has to be worth its weight in gold. My current kit is as follows:

Nikon D800

It was love at first actuation. I found out in July 2012 that I would spend the next year living off the grid in Eastern Uganda. The Nikon D800 had just been released and my Nikon D90 had served me faithfully for four years. I knew if there was ever going to be a time to make the switch to full frame it was then. The Nikon D800 held up against everything fifteen months in Africa threw its way, despite almost constant exposure to dust and heat, it still works flawlessly today.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

I use this lens for everything. Two-thirds of my current portfolio (at least) was shot with the Nikon D800 and attached Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. It’s sharp as a tack and lies right in the sweet spot if you find yourself constantly switching between subjects and don’t have time to change lenses.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D

One of the best lenses for portrait and low-light photography, a lot of bang for your buck with this one. No brainer.

Lensbaby 2.0

If you ever find yourself in a creative rut, lens baby lenses are a fun way to gain new and interesting perspectives.

Nikon SB-900

I’ll be up front here, I probably don’t understand half of what the Nikon SB-900 speedlight is capable of, it sounds like a ticked off fax machine when you turn it on. What I do know is that it’s a powerful light source and an invaluable tool when coupled with a soft box or used in a creative way.

Neewer CN-160 LED Light

You can never have too many lighting options. The CN-160 is powerful, portable, and ridiculously inexpensive.

Field Notes

Taking down names and valuable information in style.

Tascam DR-40 Handheld Audio Recorder

Every now and then I’ll need to capture audio in the field, the Tascam DR-40 offers an inexpensive way to get the job done right.

Rode Video Mic Pro

Perfect for “run and gun” style documentary shooting, it’s lightweight and records nice clean audio. I link it right into the Tascam DR-40.

Heavy Duty L Bracket

You’ll never catch me without an L Bracket, I use mine to position the SB-900 to camera left. It also comes in handy when shooting with GoPros, audio recorders, or anything else you might want to securely attach to your rig. It’s proven to be an invaluable piece of gear.


One word: Instagram.



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