My name is Justin Mott and I’m a documentary photographer living in Vietnam and working globally on assignments and my personal projects
I recently made a big switch in my life to a Leica M system for my assignment work and, more importantly, for my ongoing personal project, Kindred Guardians. My project focuses on documenting people who dedicate their lives to helping animals.
This is a legacy project for me and I wanted a lightweight system, something less gear crazy, and more minimalistic so I could focus on telling stories and not worrying about gear.
Leica M10D and a Leica M10, as a back-up. I absolutely love my M10D because it’s bare-bones, no LCD screen, and its only features are ISO, shutter, and aperture. It’s so basic that it lets me focus on telling stories and not worrying about anything else. This is easily my favorite camera I’ve ever owned.
I use a Leica 35mm f/1.4 as my main lens and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s extremely lightweight, super sharp, and I love the color rendering. I also sparingly use a Leica 135mm f/3.4, Leica 75mm f/2.4, and a Leica 21mm f/2.8.
Hardware & Software
Last but not least, I put all this gear in a variety of Wotancraft camera bags, depending on the story and the location. I have a whole collection of them and they are all incredibly durable and stylish.
I’m in the wild often so I always carry mosquito spray, a notebook for captions, a DJI Osmo pocket for BTS footage, Leica binoculars to spot the animals, Vertellis Chapters daily journal, deodorant because I’m typically in hot and humid clients, Leica SD card holder, a James pocket knife, gaffer tape, and business cards for my personal project.
I’ve stepped in the poop of every animal I’ve photographed so far for my project, I hope to end that streak on my next adventure. I should perhaps add wet wipes or hand sanitizer to my kit but, oh well, it’s all part of the process.
My business Mott Visuals shoots everything. These days I’m doing loads of luxury resorts all over South East Asia, so I decided to go with my Resort Photography kits. In fact I took this Shotkit image fresh off the beach at The Datai Langkawi in Malaysia.
Our clients are looking to break from the norm with their images, wanting more of a story and more realistic images so I decided to showcase my all-natural resort photography kit ☺. For these shoots we do everything for our clients from architectural shots, food shots, and lifestyle shots, we are there to build them a well rounded image library they can use for years to come.
To start with since I’m at a luxury resort I need to fit in and be stylish so I love my Wotancraft camera bag. I have a whole arsenal of them for all different occasions. Their bags are handmade and super stylish, a nice break from all the nerdy bags out there for photographers.
My workhorse and nucleus of my kit is the Canon 5D Mark 3 partnered with a series of Canon L Series prime lenses. This camera can do it all from weddings, commercial work, and editorial.
I use the Canon 17mm f/4L Tilt Shift for room interiors and resort hero shots, the lens is a beast but at times it scares me because of the bulbous glass.
For the lifestyle part of the shoot I love using the Canon 24mm f/1.4, the colors and the pop you get from that lens are unrivaled by any others. It’s lightweight and allows me to get close to my subjects and to shoot them in a documentary style approach.
I have to admit my favorite lens is the Canon 45mm f/2.8 Tilt Shift. I don’t use it for the miniature effect, instead I use it with a slight tilt for that creamy and dreamy look and it fits perfect for luxury resorts.
I use the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro for detail shots and for food shots, it’s razor sharp. I try to use as much natural light as possible so when we need to keep the ambience I break out my Canon 50mm f/1.2, this lens rocks on low light.
I shoot a ton, trying to get as many natural moments as possible when we have models on the shoots so for storage I back everything up with the WD My Passport Drive because it’s got a built in 2 times RAID system and it’s thunderbolt so it’s super fast.
We use the Canon Legria Mini X for behind the scenes footage, I love the audio on this and the option to not be super-wide for interviews.
With resort shoots comes plenty of sand so having a blower is a must, my whole kit has sand everywhere.
For the beach shots I need my sunblock, trusty Paul Smith Scarf so people know I’m a photographer, and Espadrilles because you are constantly taking off your footwear and these are the fastest.
I need to be on time so my Bell & Ross watch never comes off.
Last but not least I can’t ever go on a resort shoot without my underwater bag. This thing isn’t the easiest to use but it’s super cheap compared to the custom kits and it allows you to get amazing shots in the pool, ocean, waterfalls, etc.