Hello! My name is Eric. I’m a photographer based in Austin, Texas. I’ve had a ton of fun over the last 10 years shooting a variety of subjects. I got started shooting weddings and families, and around 2008 I moved into editorial/commercial work.
I’ve enjoyed doing that now for several years, along with custom Christmas cards that I love creating each year for clients. And last year I added some fine art painting work to my growing list of ‘interests’.
Since I’ve dabbled a bit in a lot of areas, I’ve tried different pieces of gear for different projects. Over the last 3 years or so though, I’ve kind of settled on my go-to kit. It’s worked well and I don’t anticipate any changes until I have something break. (That being said, I’m a sucker for good marketing).
So here goes:
Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 5D Mark III – I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve stuck with one brand (Canon) and never felt the need to sell everything and move to Nikon. Both bodies have served me incredibly well and I love how the controls are laid out. At this point it’s ‘muscle memory’ to make exposure adjustments, so I don’t see a need to switch.
Here are the standard lenses I take with me on a shoot:
Canon 50mm f/1.2– far and away my favorite lens. Since I do a lot of composite work, I usually find myself grabbing this lens or something wider. I wouldn’t use it for tight portrait work, but I will do my best to back up and make enough room for it during an environmental shot.
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II – I have the original model (I guess they call that the I?) It doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but the II linked to here is even better. This is my lens for wide shots as I don’t have a wide fixed focal length lens.
Canon 85mm f/1.2 – ah – the portrait lens. Sure it’s big and heavy, but it creates wonderful images. I wish the focus distance was a little tighter though. I’ll create a lot of headshots with this lens.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 – this lens is from my wedding days, where I was stuck at the back of the church trying to capture images of the couple. I don’t do weddings anymore, so now I use this lens for portraits where I want something a little tighter than 85mm. It’s great at making my subject’s head huge in the frame (see tips on photography framing). This is another lens though with a longer focus distance then I would like. Sometimes I find myself framing up the image exactly as I want but being unable to take the shot because I am too close to focus.
Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro – another holdover from wedding days. This lens was used mostly for detail/ring/flower shots. Today I use it for photographing miniatures that I build in my studio. It will also stop down to f/32, so if you have a ton of strobe light you can really kill the sun in the middle of the day outside :)
Profoto B-3 Generator – this is my main lighting generator. However, it seems harder to find, being replaced with the Profoto B-4. Mine is a 1200 w/s generator, and I have two heads with it. If I were going to buy one today, I’d definitely consider the B-4 as it has the power/ruggedness of the B-3, all digital controls, along with the short flash duration of something like an Einstein (discussed below). Mine also has a built in PocketWizard receiver which is nice.
Profoto Magnum Reflector – I have a couple of Profoto modifiers. This Magnum is great at throwing a bunch of light a long distance.
Paul C. Buff Einstein and Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini – Buff has taken a rap for a long time (somewhat deserved) for creating products with inconsistent flash color and slow flash duration. It’s a tradeoff between performance and design vs. low cost. However, the general consensus is that they hit it out of the park with their Einstein units that came out a few years ago.
While certainly not ‘built like a tank’, they do offer incredibly short flash duration (meaning less flash-created ‘motion trails’ when you photograph moving subjects) and improved consistency with flash color (in the past, your flash could be blueish or warmish depending on what power setting you were at).
I know several photographers that use these lights exclusively. I have two that I use as additional light sources on location, or as short-duration flashes whenever I am trying to stop motion. The additional grids help me shape the light like I want to. The Vagabond Mini battery is great too. It stores a lot of power to run these flashes throughout the day. They even come out with a new Vagabond which lasts longer.
Manfrotto 1005BAC Ranker Stand – I’m not sure who turned me onto these, but I love them. Normally I am a ‘c-stand only’ guy. But when I want something up quick, I’ll pull out two of these babies. What’s so great about these stands is that they collapse in a way that makes them flatter than traditional stands. And (more importantly), you can hook/lock 3 of them together. This makes them great for transport as you can have all your stands locked and accessible with one hand!
Photek Softlighter – These were made popular in the past few years by David Hobby (and to a bigger extent, Annie Leibovitz). Basically it’s just an umbrella with a softbox material on the front. Very simple. But it gives off amazing light in a package that’s lighter and much easier to manage than an equally-sized softbox. Since they are umbrellas, they fold up nicely. And, comparatively speaking, they are much more affordable than soft boxes. Give one a try and see if you like it.
Gelly Roll – this is a roll-up tube I use to hold my various colored gels. Very easy to manage/store, and worth it if you are into the colored-gel thing.
PocketWizard Plus II – I’ve been using the Plus II series for 10 years. They are rugged and dependable. Every now and then the plastic hotshoe mount might break if you knock the PocketWizard while it’s attached to the camera, but honestly I’d rather it break than the metal hotshoe mount on the camera itself.
I know the Plus III’s are available, but I just don’t see a reason to upgrade (especially with the disaster that was the Mini TTL/Flex series when using them with a Canon 580EX flash (radio interference anyone?)).
Canon 580 EX/Canon 580 EX EX2 – these have been my workhorses for on camera flash or to serve as small directional lights that I can place in lampshades/etc when on location. Since I’m always shooting in manual (not TTL), I don’t see a reason to upgrade to the newer flashes.
Eneloop AA Batteries– I first heard of these during my wedding days. While they take a long time to charge (as all quality rechargeable batteries should), they last a long time compared to other quick charge systems. I use these for my 580 flashes and PocketWizards.
15 inch Macbook Pro – These are great for tethered shooting. If you can’t go for a new one, grab an older one and change out the drive with an SSD drive (like I did here). It will make a world of difference!
Lee 4×4 .6 and .3 Neutral Density Filters – ain’t gonna lie – these are pricey. But, when paired with Lee’s mounting kit/hood system, you get several stops of neutral density through a quality glass. I went with this solution over a screw-on type (like Singh Ray’s) so that I could use it with any lens I had. It’s quick to pop on and off.
BlackRapid RSD-1BB Camera Strap – This is a great strap. It’s designed to get the camera out of your way when you are adjusting lights/etc.
ThinkTank Airport Security – All of the camera-specific gear fits in my Airport Security bag. I’ve had it for years and absolutely love it. For me it’s the best mix of storage, weight and size. It’s my perfect bag (for now :) ).
Spring Clamps – because you can never have enough clamps.
LED Lights – I suggest going to Home Depot or Lowes and checking out there lighting section. I found these in the ‘under counter’ lighting section at Lowes. Fun to play with for light-painting/etc.
Annie Leibovitz “At Work” – I included this to represent that I am always learning new things. I’ve got a very strong appetite for discovering new techniques and skills, and I encourage you to approach your work in the same way!
So there you go! I hope this information has been helpful for you. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me.