Hi everyone! My name is Lara Jade. I’m a fashion photographer from England; currently based in New York City. Although I made the move to the United States a few years ago, the fashion photography industry isn’t restricted to one country or another; I regularly travel to London and other major cities around the world for work.
I’m an avid traveler, so I like to hop on a plane whenever I can. Not many people realize it but I’m actually a nervous flyer – I keep myself distracted by working; some of my best ideas have come whilst I was sitting on an airplane!
I shoot a lot of editorial work but I’m often shooting look books, advertorials and campaigns for clothing and beauty brands worldwide. Some of my clients include Harrods, Elle Singapore, The Observer, Tatler Hong Kong, Vogue Wedding Japan, Goldsmiths, Nanette Lepore, Littlewoods, Fantasie Lingerie, Random House & Harper Collins publishers.
Let’s rewind a little before we talk about the equipment. I’ll be honest with you – at fourteen when I started photography I learned to work with what I had. At the time, the concepts and ideas for my shoots were more important to me than the technical know how.
For the first few years of my career, I decided to photograph conceptual images of myself and my friends – all to hone my skills. My first camera was a Sony Cybershot (8.2 megapixels) which had limited functions.
A few years later, I upgraded to the Canon 350D and started to understand how to use a camera manually. It took me a while before I began to experiment with artificial lighting because for years, natural light worked its wonders for me. The thought of big empty studios and artificial lighting was alien to me.
Why am I telling you this? Because even though I now have more expensive equipment – my thought process is still the same. I work with a small amount of equipment which I do not let limit me from creating what I have envisioned. If I’m on location and the shoot isn’t working with artificial light, I’ll run away with the model and start shooting with natural light, working with what’s available. If my idea of using 3 lights in the studio looks too lit and unreal – I’ll go back to using one light because it works; it looks natural.
There are many photographers out there who claim they don’t have the best equipment – you do not need the best equipment! If you don’t own lighting learn to master natural light. If you don’t have a great camera, work with what you have – visually striking and well thought out images often count for more than technically perfect images.
If you took a peek into my camera bag you’d be surprised at how simple my set up is. I am constantly being asked, “What equipment do you use and why?”. When the opportunity came up to contribute to Shotkit I said yes – not to brag about what I have in my dslr camera bag but more so to enlighten you on my process on choosing what equipment I carry.
Often the choice of what is in my camera bag depends on how far I am traveling and what is required by the client. The majority of the time I travel with a Kelly Moore 2 Sues bag with my camera body and three lenses.
** Canon 5D MKIII – I’ve been using the Canon 5D MKIII now for a few years (after upgrading from the Canon 5D MKII). The biggest draw for me is how well it works in low light conditions. I am often working on-location when shooting editorial work and end up chasing the sun to get the last shot (many shoots last right up until sunset!) The Canon 5D MKIII works well when shooting with limited natural lighting – sunrise/sunset and also indoors shooting with overcast window light.That extra help with the reduced noise level helps in tricky light conditions!
** Canon 50mm f/1.2 – My first prime lens was a Canon 50mm f/1.8 and I used it so much that the autofocus had stopped working. I didn’t bother getting it fixed (I’m not sure why now I think about it!). Instead, I learned to manually focus the lens – which is most likely why I still choose to use manual focus when focusing! When I had the opportunity to upgrade my equipment, it became my go to lens for both the studio and location work. I enjoy using this lens on-location when shooting cinematic stories. I also don’t mind using it for portraits – I like to break the rules a little. If the slight distortion works I’ll work with it.
** Canon 85mm f/1.2 – THE lens for portraits. I use this lens a lot for close-up portraits in the studio and on-location. The quality is by far the best out of all of the lenses I own.
** Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 – Versatile. Great for studio & location work different crops and focal lengths are required and I don’t want to continuously switch out lenses. Sometimes I also use this lens to shoot 35mm when on-location to get a wider cinematic feel or if I want more of the background present.
** Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 – My friends and I like to call this the ‘bird watcher’ lens because of its size! It looks like it means business but I don’t use it as often as my other lenses. If I’m on-location and want to pull the background and model together, it works well. It’s also a good lens for beauty shots if you want a tight crop without going macro.
** Broncolor Move Kit 1200L – (Not pictured – light heads and accessories)
The move kit is easy to transport. I often take my equipment with me to various studios and location houses in NYC and surrounding areas. I don’t shoot on-location with lights that often, but when I do, the quality and power of the Move kit makes it an easy choice (talk about power – equal to sun etc)
** Broncolor Siros Kit 800S – The Siros kit is easy to set up and my favorite function is the ability to hook up the control to your iPhone or iPad via an app. It has become my go to kit when working from my home studio. See my full review of this kit here (link)
** iPhone 6 – I could go on and on about this, but everyone knows the benefits of owning a smartphone. For me the iPhone 6 is a great choice for multitasking. I enjoy using the camera whilst traveling to grab quick snaps – whether it be behind-the-scenes captures, shots of my travels, or my cats!
** Lacie Rugged Drive – The rugged drive is a good choice for traveling – it’s durable and I’ve not had one break on me (yet!). I always carry my own portable drive so I can immediately back up after a shoot. The majority of my clients leave with a copy of the entire shoot too.
** Crystals / Prisms – I often travel with at least one of these or source them for shoots on the go. I like to use crystals or prisms in front of my lens to create interesting looks – whether it be reflections or to create interesting light effects. I’ve also been known to use jewelry (beads), drinking glasses, spectacles and flowers too!
** Wacom PTK640 Intuos 5 – I choose to use a tablet because when I retouch images, I like my movement to be fluid, almost like I’m painting. The Wacom Intuos 5 medium tablet is a good size to travel with.