My name is Claudia Butters, from Sydney, Australia, and I’ve been shooting for a couple of years now. I recently debuted my first solo exhibition of photographic prints, ‘Dualities’, in February 2020 at Down Under Space that explored architecture through fine art principles – specifically on abstracting spaces.
I also take portraits, headshots and in my spare time explore around to take photos of anything that tells a story.
My relationship with photography has always had a very philosophical underpinning. The struggle between the meaning of capturing and where my place is as a photographer constantly runs through my brain and in turn that thought process has evolved into how I can transform a simple object into something new.
One thing that fascinates me is architecture. Having exhibited a gallery full of prints on architecture, I’m more inclined to say it’s Fine Art that happens to have buildings as the content.
To me, it isn’t enough to simply shoot things. It’s about applying a unique eye of composition, framing (more), lighting and palette then compressing it all into a single picture.
My first camera was a Canon EOS 650D. With a love of Canon immediately set in stone and after a few years of fumbling about with it during high school I eventually moved on to my current camera, my Canon EOS 6D. I’ve stuck to Canon for its incredible colour technology, impressive skin tones and reliability.
I’ve tried other brands but I must be sensitive to green since it’s often all I see tinting the images.
My first lens, one I still hold on to today, is the Canon 24-70mm f/4. It’s a great start out lens and has an excellent range for a wide variety of photography.
I’ve used this lens in my architectural series, lifestyle, portrait and travel work. Of course, my stubbornness to upgrade has left me frustrated the stop isn’t as open as it could be, but there is a discipline to be learnt into understanding and working with the tools you have rather than relying on the newest tech to take images for you.
I feel there’s a tendency to upgrade because it’ll make your pictures better, but I’ve taken so many photos on this lens that I’m proud of.
My second zoom lens is the Canon 16-35mm f/4. When I first started out I was quite scared of the wide, but I am finding it more and more compelling as I explore my own aesthetics into creating images and it has always been a favourite for my fine artworks.
Of course, my favourite lens is my nifty fifty – the Canon 50mm f/1.8. I keep this on most often because firstly, it’s my best lens for aperture, and two, it’s small!
There’s nothing worse than lugging around an entire backpack of heavy gear while hanging a dumbbell of weight off your neck in the form of a camera.
More seriously, I am in love with the quality of prime lenses – one day I will invest in a 35mm, but I digress. Using primes has also given me a lot of familiarity with what a 50mm should look like and I’ve used it so often I know exactly where to stand to get the kind of shot I want.
It’s a great skill and I’d recommend anyone to work with a prime both for the discipline but also for the upside of better quality images.
Moving on to my Canon Speedlite 430 EX II – I don’t use this often except for when I occasionally do events and corporate work. I’m not a huge fan of unnatural light as most of my work occurs with seeking out the best lighting in the given moment.
In this case, I’m more likely to use my Selens Collapsible 5-in-1 Triangle Reflector, which is a great joy in my life! I cannot take any headshots or portraits without it and I’ll even carry it around if I need a little bit of bounce for personal projects.
Bounce lighting is extremely flattering on skin tones, plus the bonus of the Reflector being a 5-in-1 gives me a lot of options for improving my shot, whether it be diffusing harsh light, filling in shadows with a negative fill or just catching an eye line with the silver or gold side reflector.
I’m also a big fan of filters. I personally use Hoya ProND series of filters. These filters are always in my bag, whether it’s reducing glare or having the flexibility of keeping my aperture wide no matter the lighting. NDs can also add some much needed contrast to the lens so I often keep my 2 stop close.
I bought the Manfrotto MK Compact Advanced Tripod only a year ago which was an essential purchase. I had a very large heavy tripod more suited to videography than photography. I love the ease of this tripod. It packs down small, is light and is seamless for adjusting tilt and pan.
Pictured in my gear photo I have the tripod plate mounted to my camera because it’s so useful to be able to throw in. I usually use my tripod for long exposures, fine art and occasionally portraits. It’s also a must for when taking photos remotely.
Speaking of the little things, my Apple iPhone 7+ is really a great photo tool. I love using the wireless features to take remote photos – the Canon app allows me to view the camera, change the settings and take images – plus send pictures directly to my phone for better viewing.
It’s a great nifty tool to be on top of and I highly recommend everyone have a Google on how they can do it with their cameras too. It’ll change your life!
Lastly, I have since the start of this year been playing with prisms! If you’re interested in experimental/conceptual photography, or even fashion/portraiture they’re great little tools for adding either a bit of texture or really changing the feel of your image. They’re specific but I have enjoyed playing with them either way!
Despite what gear I use, I maintain that as long as you’re familiar with what you’re using you can get a great shot no matter how expensive, or how cheap it is! If you have a great story to tell or a keen sense of aesthetics, what camera you use will be secondary.
If anyone has any questions regarding my work or my gear feel free to get in touch! I am always keen for long philosophical musings on the meaning of photography, or just chatting about opinions on camera gear.