I’ve been a professional photographer for half of my life, having started a portrait studio in my teens in the countryside of upstate New York. Today I am a fashion photographer based in New York City shooting for a variety of commercial, fashion and editorial clients in one of the world’s most exciting and competitive photographic markets.
In addition to my studio (fully stocked with amazing lighting gear and modifiers), I also love to travel. Whether shooting editorials in the deserts of Dubai or teaching hands-on workshops in Sweden, I’ve got a go-to bag full of gear that helps me be prepared for any shoot. In addition to shooting I am an educator, and teach around the world to passionate photographers like myself. I love to be able to discuss everything from creativity, to techniques, to what gear I consider amazing tools for creating my style of imagery.
1. Kelly Moore Thirst Relief Shoulder Bag: I’ve used this laptop/camera bag for years and I can’t say enough good things about it. When I am on the road teaching or shooting it holds my MacBook Pro, my tether cable (from tether tools), hard drives, cosmetics, notebook and any other computer-related items. What great is that it is designed to hold camera gear as well and can easily hold a camera body, cards (in a pouch on the side designed for that), and two lenses. If I can only have one bag and need to have my laptop and gear, this is a go-to. Beyond that, I love the textures and tones of this bag. It is stylish, which is definitely an important consideration for a fashion photographer!
2. Sigma 85mm f/1.4: This has been one of my favorite lenses for awhile now. On location its just an incredible lens to give me great compression for a portrait and beautifully narrow depth of field. I often start with a closeup shot of my subject with this lens, where the background just melts away and the focus is all on the eyes.
3. Sigma 24-105mm f/4: When I can only carry one lens with me or really need versatility, this is my go-to selection. In fact, when I did a shoot in the middle of the desert in Dubai, I certainly didn’t want to be changing lenses and the wind tossed sand throughout the air. For this reason the 24-105 was incredible. it gave me every full length shot I needed, and could even punch-in for some nice beauty shots of my model. This lens is what versatility is all about.
4. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8: Sometimes I call my Sigma 24-105mm f/4 and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 my studio one-two punch. For most of the work I do in the studio, these two lenses cover it all. I can easily have full length shots and great beauty shots. The Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 is my go to portrait and beauty lens. When I shoot beauty campaigns, portrait clients, portraits for magazine covers and more, this is the lens I grab. Its got great compression and just an essential in my bag. Plus, at 2.8 if I want shots with a narrow depth of field I can shoot wide open and isolate the subject from the background.
5. SpiderHolster Spider Plate: I keep my Spider Plate and Holster ready so I can keep my hands and shoulders free. This plate attaches/detaches easily to my camera and allows me to use the belter which has really changed the way I work and move on a shoot.
6. Manfrotto Quick Release Plate: Most of the tripods and stabilization systems I have utilize this mount. My carbon fiber camera tripods, my video tripods, my Cinevate Cyclops, my Cinevate Atlas Slider and more all use this mount so I keep it on the ready!
7. Cosmetic Products: You never know when you will have that last minute client meeting or great networking event pop up! I keep some essential red cosmetics ready to spruce myself up a bit at a moments notice. Throw on a red lip and you always look more put together.
8. Accessories: Similar to the cosmetics I carry, I never know when I’ll need to head off to a meeting or event. I always keep a few extra pieces of jewelry in my bag because added some accessories to any outfit can really bring up your styling game!
9. Notebook: Here I jot down inspiration, contact information, marketing plans, and much more. Yes, I still keep notes in my iPhone and iPad, but sometimes just drawing out inspiration works great to get the creative juices flowing!
10. Business Cards: I always carry several business cards on me. You never know when you’ll meet someone that will open up a great networking or business opportunity. I’ve got business cards in my camera bag, laptop bag, purse, wallet, memory card case, and anywhere I can sneak them. Gear can be replaced, but a missed marketing opportunity is a major loss!
11. Canon 5D Mark III (2 of them): This is my go-to camera for most of the editorial and portrait projects I use. I love its high ISO capabilities and am quite satisfied with its focusing capabilities. I really work this camera into the ground and it continues to perform. When I need enhanced image quality (say for example with a medium format digital back) I rent these items from companies like Digital Transitions in NYC. I carry two cameras because if the primary fails, I’m out of luck! Furthermore, I often pass my backup camera to an assistant or someone on set to capture behind the scenes images of the creative process.
12. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art: This lens is tack sharp, and if fact one of the sharpest lenses (and sharpest 50) on the market. The sharpness of this lens combined with is wide aperture allows me to utilize this tool in very low light situations, or when I want to eliminate the background through selective depth of field. Depending on the shoot I will either have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art or the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art in my bag (and sometimes both!).
13. Lens flare and creative tools: It may look unusual to see these in my bag, but they are ALWAYS there. These are my creativity and lens flare tools. When I hold these items in front of my lens it allows me to create a beautiful haze or lens flare in-camera, or to even create multiple images (with a crystal). I always have at least one available in case I am inspired for these effects.
14. Extra batteries and charger: I try to keep a battery in each camera, and a back up for each battery in my bag so that I never have to worry about how much charge I have left on a shoot… I don’t even need to worry.
15. Phottix Odin TTL Flash Trigger: Paired with the Phottix Mitros+, this trigger gives me complete wireless control over several flashes whether in TTL or Manual. Its relatively light weight and inexpensive, so it is a great tool in my location lighting kit.
16. Phottix Mitros TTL Flash: This fantastic flash can be wirelessly triggered (by the Odin trigger) and I keep it in my bag in case I’m in need of augmenting the light. For more extensive shoots (where I KNOW I’ll need speed lights), I’ll carry several of these flashes. They give me almost all of the same capabilities and outputs as their Canon/Nikon counter parts, but at significantly lower prices which allows me to easily afford multiples.
17. X-Rite Colorchecker Passport: Accurate color is extremely important for beauty and fashion photography. The color of the eye shadow for a makeup campaign needs to be exact, or that red of a designer’s dress needs to be accurate. For that reason I carry a color checker to give me a reference point for color and white balance in post-processing.
18. LOTS of memory cards: I shoot a lot. No really, I shoot a LOT of frames and I never want to cramp my style or the flow of my inspiration because I’m worried about how many shots I have left on my card. I generally choose 32 or 64GB CF cards. These are large enough so that I don’t have to constantly change my cards but also not so big that I would loose absolutely everything on a shoot if I lost them. In fact, for still shoots I tend more toward 32GBs and for video shoots I lean toward 64GB cards. I also try and select cards with fast write speeds so that my shooting is not bogged down by the card (and this is really important for video as well).
19. Sekonic Litemaster Pro L-478D Light Meter: I love that is meter is touch screen and just very intuitive to use. I use it often when teaching so I can share how I achieved certain looks, for repeatability on set, and for determining location lighting exposures.
20. Tether Tools Tether Cable: When teaching (and shooting) I often need to tethered to a computer to show the class or client the images as they are being taken. For my Canon 5D mark III I usually tether into Lightroom utilizing this great cord from Tether Tools.
21. G-Tech Hard Drives: I love my G-Tech hard drives. They are fast and they are reliable. I trust them to back up my most important assets– my images! When I’m shooting on location (or even in the studio), I download my cards to two portable G-tech drives so that there is a backup. Then, I do not format my cards until these backups have been put in my main archival tower back at home (all G-tech drives).
22. Spider Holster: I like to move when I shoot- I move a lot. I jump up and down, side to side getting different angles and communicating with my subjects. I climb to the top of mountains of sand or walk precariously on the edge of cliffs to get just the right angle… and for all these reasons I need my hands free. I need my hands AND my shoulders free. I find shoulder straps to suffocating and restricting, whether as the Spider Holster helps me get the camera to my hip and easily within reach when needed.
23. Case Logic SLRC-206 back pack: My mother gave me this backpack as a gift for carrying gear particularly when I travel. I used to have a very large bag to carry as much gear as possible, but it quickly weighed me down and became disruptive to my workflow instead of enhancing it. This bag has space to carry 3-5 lenses, my two camera bodies, cards, card reader, batteries, and even my laptop in a back sleeve if I wanted. Typically I pair this bag with my Kelly Moore bag when I travel for all my essentials.