Hey y’all. My name’s Harrison and I’m a photojournalist based somewhere between Pennsylvania and the nation’s capital.
I first started taking photographs as a young child with a point and shoot camera, and I’ve been working professionally since 2015, starting my career out working freelance in my hometown with several USA Today newspapers.
I got my bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism in Washington, D.C., and I spend my weekdays there as a university marketing photographer.
Outside of my day job, I’ve continued freelancing in my hometown and in Washington, D.C., and have worked with major news outlets and magazines over the years.
As a photojournalist, you end up having to be a real ‘jack of all trades’. In the span of a week, assignments I work can vary from portraits, breaking news, festivals, concerts, sports, weather, landscapes, and videos.
I would say there’s no better challenge as a photographer than this crazy field, especially with the way it constantly pushes you to try new things or see old things in new ways.
The part of photojournalism I’m most passionate about, though, is breaking news. I’ve always been fascinated by the fire service since I was a young child, but while working assignments for the local paper I came to have a huge appreciation for how these moments change lives and become part of local history.
People care and want to know what happened in their community, and I can’t think of a better way to show them that than through photography.
To do that effectively, you need to really be there when the news happens. If there’s a fire, show the reader the flames, not some smoke or rubble after the fact.
For me, that means ensuring my gear is always ready to go, and I often drop everything I’m doing on a moment’s notice to rush to a fire or crash.
One side effect of the wide variety of work that I do is needing a lot of equipment, so let’s get into my bags.
Canon EOS R5 – This has been one of the latest additions to my bag, as I was lucky enough to get one on day one. I never saw myself falling in love with a mirrorless camera, I’ve had a long hatred of the look of electronic viewfinders and always wanted a camera as tough and constantly reliable as my 1D X Mark II.
This camera has totally changed that for me, though. The EOS R5 is a real dream come true.
I feel like all you hear on the internet is people going back and forth about the R5’s video features, but let’s be clear – this camera shoots 20 raw frames per second *silently* at a whopping 45 megapixels, with full tracking autofocus and no lag or blackout in the viewfinder.
That feature alone got me to instantly pre-order the camera. When you add in the incredible new tracking autofocus, up to 8-stop internal in-body image stabilization, wi-fi, a huge dynamic range, and the incredibly lifelike electronic viewfinder, it’s hard to not be happy.
The biggest adjustment for me is getting used to the small size of this camera. I’ve been used to lugging around a full-grip 1D X Mark II everywhere for years, even on vacation, which is like carrying a bag of bricks.
The R5 is a real pleasure to use, with a very comfortable hand grip, and my arms feel far better after a long shoot.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II – This was my primary camera shortly after it was released until I got my EOS R5. Despite the R5 beating it across the board on spec sheets, there are definitely some advantages still to the 1DX Mark II.
A key one for me is that the 1DX Mark II has anti-flicker shooting at 10+ FPS, whereas the R5 is limited to 6 FPS for antiflicker.
That’s a big deal when photographing sports outdoors at night in terrible lighting. The battery life is also a dream, I change my 1DX Mark II battery maybe once a week if I’m busy.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – This camera has been with me through a lot—it was the camera I started my professional career off with back in 2015, and it was always an excellent partner to my 1D X Mark II before the R5 came along.
Now it just sits in my rolling bag to act as a back-up in an emergency, or to use as a remote camera.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro – This thing is great! I’m very impressed by the raw files that the Hasselblad camera pulls off, there’s a surprising amount of dynamic range for such a tiny camera.
This is such an important tool to have as a photojournalist in 2020, and it truly gives you unique and new angles that have never been possible before.
For breaking news, it’s like having a news helicopter that fits in your back pocket.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM – I really enjoy landscape photography in my free time, and this lens has been perfect for that. Most of my landscapes are shot past f/8, so I felt no need to go for a wider f/2.8 version.
It gets next to no use in my news work as I feel like anything wider than 24mm has too much distortion for news, but if it does get used it’s for showing a large space or on a remote camera.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – This lens currently lives on my 1DX Mark II. This is definitely the ‘if you could only bring one lens’ lens, and it could probably pull off 70% of my paid work on its own.
In photojournalism, you often don’t have time to change lenses, so I really value this lens for giving me so much room to work.
I also honestly really enjoy it for portraits when you don’t have much time since you can get a nice variety of portraits without changing lenses.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – This is the oldest piece of gear that I still have, which I got back at the beginning of 2014.
It’s now been mostly replaced by my RF version, but I’ve held onto it to use with my 1DX Mark II when photographing night sports.
Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM – All I can say is – wow. After six years of lugging the huge EF 70-200 around, I can’t commend Canon enough on this lens. The RF 70-200 is barely bigger or heavier than my 24-70.
This lens easily fits anywhere your 24-70 can fit, and it feels far more like a 24-70 than a 70-200. The saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you, and this lens makes it far easier to keep a 70-200 on you.
In the past, I’ve left my EF 70-200 behind on vacations or other non-photo related trips, but this RF 70-200 makes it incredibly easy to throw in a small shoulder bag and always have on you.
Turn on the 17-megapixel 1.6x crop mode of the EOS R5, and you get a tiny 112-320mm f/2.8 setup as well, which gives you even more reach if you can’t bring a bigger glass with you.
This lens has been my primary lens for my R5, paired with the 1DX Mark II on the 24-70.
Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM – This is my daytime telephoto lens. Often while covering breaking news it’s hard to actually get closer to the scene, whether that’s due to police tape or physical danger, and during the daylight hours, I keep this lens on my R5 to give a little boost over the 70-200.
When retracted, this lens fits anywhere the EF 70-200 fits, which makes it far easier to carry than a big white prime. I love the versatility of this lens, and being able to pop down to 400mm can give a big difference over being limited to 200mm.
It’s also an excellent lens for my bird photography hobby, which was also a chief reason I bought it.
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM – This excellent tiny little lens is a real treat. Put this lens on the EOS R5 and you basically get a slightly bigger full-frame Fujifilm X100 with perfect Canon ergonomics and the ability to change lenses.
The 0.5x macro feature is also really surprisingly excellent and gives you a lot more room to just have fun with this lens. I would call this lens my perfect vacation lens, it just takes beautiful images at f/1.8 and is so small you can easily forget you’re carrying it.
The 35mm focal length is a real favorite of mine, and this lens is so easy to love.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II – Similar to my EF 70-200, this lens has also gotten a lot less use due to a newer RF version. I initially got this lens for paid work in low light, but I find myself rarely pulling it out, as most of the night breaking news I cover needs the versatility of a 24-70 anyway.
This lens really only gets used to give my 1DX Mark II a 35mm option, or for portraiture thanks to the wider f/1.4 aperture. That said, this is a beast of a lens that can take a lot more beating or bad weather than the RF 35mm.
If I get an RF 85mm for the R5, I could see this lens being used more on my 1D X Mark II as a partner to that for general assignments or feature work where I have more time to not need the 24-70.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – Easily my least used and cheapest lens, but I always keep this lens tucked away somewhere as an emergency back-up. If all else was broken or taken from me, I could probably still do a lot of my paid work with my old 5D Mark III and 50mm f/1.8.
I’ve grabbed it a few times recently when packing a small kit with my R5 since it remains tiny even with the EF-RF mount adapter. I also enjoy this lens for portraits sometimes.
Add in the 17-megapixel 1.6x crop mode of the EOS R5, and you effectively get a 900mm F/8 lens, which gives you the reach to photograph pretty much anything.
Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R – This thing basically doesn’t even exist when you have to use it—I can’t identify any delay or other issues with any of my EF lenses in comparison to native RF lenses. EF lenses work incredibly well on the R5, and this adapter is also weather-sealed like an L lens.
I love the control ring on this one, which I use to change AF modes on the fly between tracking and regular single-point modes.
Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 -This is my go to bag, and my favorite camera bag ever. I often hear the complaint that the Shape Shifter doesn’t let you keep your camera ready since you have to take the lens off to store it, but if your camera is in a bag it wasn’t ready in the first place.
Most of the time my cameras are kept ready and carried on my shoulders anyway when I’m working or watching out for breaking news. I love that this bag zips up into a more compact form when cameras aren’t in it, and generally looks like a regular, soft-sided backpack since it uses neoprene pouches for your camera, rather than rigid foam.
I keep my laptop/batteries/accessories/small trauma kit/etc in this bag so that if I have to run out the door I always know I have all the basics with me in my car. It also works great to fit a lot of personal items in it if you don’t fill it with cameras.
Think Tank Photo Modular Belt Kit – This belt kit is what I use when I’m actually working in the field. Backpacks hurt your back and leave you all sweaty when working for hours in the sun, so I pull things out of my Shape Shifter and put them in the belt packs as needed for the individual assignment.
I have a lens pouch for my phone/external battery, a lens pouch that often holds my 16-35mm in case I end up stuck needing a wider lens, a water bottle pouch, a pouch containing an additional small trauma kit, and a Think Tank Speed Changer pouch that holds my 50mm f/1.8, my flashlight, batteries, memory cards, and a bunch of other little items like gum, hand wipes, headphones, tripod plates, Allen wenches notepad, and pen.
Think Tank Photo Airport International V3.0 – This is mostly my studio gear bag. I keep almost all of my lighting gear in this rolling bag, which makes it a lot easier to roll into a formal shoot and know I have all of my gels, grids, batteries, chargers, and flashes with me.
It’s an excellent bag and incredibly well made. Depending on the shoot I may also put a camera with a 24-70 attached in here, which makes me able to just bring this bag and a light stand bag for a quick portrait.
Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 V2.0 – This is my newest bag, and I got it to use alongside my EOS R5 for vacation or travel. So far I love it and how much more compact it is than my previous vacation set-ups which required a backpack.
You can fit the EOS R5 attached to the RF 70-200 standing up in the bag, which is excellent. I also put my RF 35mm f/1.8 in here, along with a EF-RF adapter and the 24-70 or 16-35, depending on the trip.
Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Carrier – This card wallet goes into my rolling bag and mainly holds older cards as a spare back-up, or filled cards that I can’t format yet.
Think Tank Photo CF/SD and Battery Wallet – A new addition to my belt kit in the wake of adding the EOS R5, sometimes I find myself running out of my car for breaking news and forgetting to move the freshly charged battery wallet from my Shape Shifter into my belt pack, so I always keep a 64GB SD card and an older LP-E6N in this little pouch tucked away in my belt pack, just in case I don’t have time to run to my car.
MindShift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case – Just an awesome little bag that keeps all of my filters, like my 100mm Big Stopper, in one place and hangs off my tripod while photographing landscapes. So convenient.
Really Right Stuff TFC-24L II Tripod – I used a much cheaper tripod for years before picking this up, and I can’t stress how valuable a good, solid tripod is. The RFC-24L II in specific is taller than I am and barely moves under my body weight.
It’s an excellent tripod that gives me a lot of versatility for landscape work, and it’s super quick to go from ground-level to full extension.
Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead – Similar to the tripod, spending money on a good ballhead is never something you’ll regret. There’s absolutely no droop after locking in the 1DX with the 100-400mm on this, once it’s in place, it’s in place. I chose this over the larger BH-55 due to the smaller size of the BH-40.
MeFoto Carbon Fiber Globetrotter – My old tripod, it’s now primarily used as a secondary tripod when shooting video or landscapes with two cameras. A little easier to use in video, since the center column makes small adjustments faster.
Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arm with Camera Bracket with Super Clamp – The gold standard of mounting remote cameras.
Joby Gorillapod – Got this as a travel/ground-level tripod, easy to throw in a bag but can hold a good bit.
Canon ST-E3RT Speedlite Transmitter – I am a huge fan of the Canon RT system. Being able to shoot accurate ETTL exposures remotely and adjust the flashes from the camera’s own menu is excellent. I used to use Pocketwizards for radio triggers, which brought so many other steps with them. But I can’t recommend the RT system enough, it makes life so much easier when shooting portraits.
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT – Primary flash, gets used as my key light, or when I rarely need a flash atop of the camera.
Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT x2 – Secondary flashes, used for fill/hair/rim lights. These aren’t weather-sealed like the 600EX but they work great in portraits.
Westcott Rapid Box Octa (26″) – This softbox is awesome. It’s so quick to set up and easy to carry with you since it folds into a tiny shoulder bag. I use it as my key light on most headshots I do.
Westcott 60″ White Satin Umbrella with Removable Black Cover – This is a pretty big umbrella that works great for longer length portraits, or as a huge fill light.
Rogue Photographic 3-in-1 Grids
Other photo gear
Dell XPS 15 2018 laptop – The Dell XPS series is just excellent. I have this one maxed out and it makes most editing a breeze, while having enough battery life to file assignments in the field.
Pocketwizard Plus III – Used to be flash triggers, now I use these for remote cameras.
Lee Filters Big Stopper 10-stop ND Filter – A recent addition to my landscape gear. This has let me do two-minute exposures in daylight, which is super cool. I’m excited to find creative ways to use this in my photojournalism work.
Rode VideoMic Pro – I don’t often shoot way too much video, but this is a definite must if you need higher quality audio while shooting run-and-gun style.
SanDisk Extreme Portable 1 TB SSD – My primary mobile work drive. I dump my full raw takes onto here from the cards, and then copy selects over to my laptop’s primary drive to edit, which immediately provides me with two separate back-ups of my raw files on top of the memory cards themselves.
ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B and SD UHS-II Dual-Slot Memory Card Reader – This is the card reader you want to pick up if you buy the R5. It has both the CF Express card slot and a UHS-II SD card slot. It’s also slightly magnetic, which helps it stick to your laptop while working remotely in the field.
WD 8TB Elements Desktop USB 3.0 External Hard Drive – I have four of these for my archives, two in Pennsylvania and two in Washington DC to give me double-redundancy of files after I move them off my work drive and laptop drive.
Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia 24-70 v3.0 – The Hydrophobia series of rain covers by Think Tank Photo are excellent and well-worth the money. These things have withstood blizzards and massive severe storms without getting a drop on any of my cameras. A real must if you work in news and can’t stop working due to weather.
Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 Pd, 20100mAh Portable Charger – Really great, powerful USB-C power delivery charger that lasts forever. This can power my Samsung S10 as well as my EOS R5 and can charge the battery several times before it runs out. It’s also super quick to charge, which is nice.
Rite In The Rain notepads, pens – After having too many of my notepads end up a mess in the rain, I made the leap to using these. They’re excellent and work exactly as advertised when writing notes in the rain. I can’t imagine using anything else.
5.11 Tactical Apex pants – Covering such a variety of topics as a photojournalist means being ready for anything, and that includes your clothing. I like these pants a lot, they look professional while being breathable in the sun, they have huge cargo pockets that can fit a 24-70mm f/2.8 or water bottle, and they can take a beating.
5.11 Tactical boots – Similar to the pants, I’m always wearing boots when working on an assignment. It makes a huge difference when you go from covering a dog Easter egg hunt to standing in 9 inches of water at a house fire, and I’ve stepped in broken glass at house fires too many times to wear sneakers on the job.
Trauma kits: North American Rescue CAT Tourniquets, HyFin Chest seals, QuikClot, Combine trauma pads, and trauma shears – I have all these things in each of my camera bags, as well as in my car. I’ve spent a lot of time chasing after breaking news, and there have been several times I’ve found myself as the first person on the scene. I’m a certified EMT, and I would much rather have these things on me and not need them than need them and not have them.
You really never know when disaster will strike, even when covering a basic daily news assignment, and being someone who is consistently around emergencies I feel much more comfortable knowing I can begin basic care with these items.
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight / Watertight .3 – This little kit isn’t meant for saving a life, but these are super nice to keep on you. They have most of your basic needs, like bandaids, allergy pills, ibuprofen, anti-bite wipes, and some other little items to keep you comfortable. The pouch is waterproof and super compact, so it fits in a belt bag or in a small bag in my backpack.
North American Rescue Individual Glove pairs – Conveniently packaged single pairs of medical gloves to toss in bags and not have to fish for them when you really need them in a hurry.
Nu-Flare Rebel 90 Flashlight – When it’s two in the morning and you’re walking down the side of a highway in the dark, you’re going to want a flashlight. This one was chosen off a random recommendation I got years ago, it’s small but it definitely does the trick for my uses.
Wet wipes – I go to Buffalo Wild Wings a lot. Jokes aside, these make life a lot more comfortable when you’re in the field and your hands are a mess.
Surgical masks / KN-95 – Sign of the times. I use surgical masks for outdoor assignments and KN-95 masks when working inside. A little pro-tip for those with glasses, put a piece of medical tape over the mask over the bridge of your nose and your glasses won’t fog up!