Michael Freas

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I’m a Florida Keys based photographer with a love of documenting life.

My path to photography was unexpected, but I could say that about a lot of things in my life.

It wasn’t until I landed a job with a local Key West-based publication did I consider myself a “photographer.” What I thought would be a fun and creative outlet beyond the mundane kitchen jobs I had taken when I moved to Key West would instead turn out to be the pathway to a new and amazing career.

Now, I focus my attention on documenting 50+ weddings a year and capturing street photography in locations across the country and overseas. I try to blend the elements together, which becomes constant practice and growth.

From destination weddings in the Caribbean to Street Photography workshops in Rome, both require dependable gear.

Authenticity in my images is what drives me, and I challenge myself at every shoot to dig down and find the raw beauty in everything.

I’m always thinking in terms of light, shadow, layers, and texture. It’s important I can blend in, not stand out, which in turn allows me to capture real moments and not interrupt them with a big setup.

For gear, I find what I like and don’t get distracted by what’s shiny. I started my career with a Nikon D3200 and a Tamron 30mm, and while I have added to my kit since then, I tend to hang on to gear because when it works, it works. (Though they’re not pictured because I’m not home, I’m writing this from a destination wedding in Sorrento, Italy.)

Bodies

If there’s one thing I have learned, top-level gear is worth spending your money on. I’m a Nikon DSLR shooter. I like that feel and sound.

I haven’t tried the Mirrorless game yet, but I have a feeling it may happen sooner or later.

Nikon D850: This workhorse beast of a body offers crazy low light focusing, focus peeking, can shoot a ton of images in very little time, and is heavy-duty. With its solid construction, it’s almost waterproof (I found out the hard way), which can be a real asset in Florida.

This body is the top of the game, in my opinion, and is worth the weight.

Lenses

My favorites are the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and Tamron 35mm f/1.8. Great color, gorgeous compression on both.

If forced to, I could probably shoot an entire event with these and be really pleased with the results. Definitely on the 35mm. It’s one of my “favorite children” for sure.

Nikon 16-35mm f/4 – My go-to lens for dancefloor coverage at weddings. It allows me to get those funky layers of people that I love, and it’s light and tack sharp.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 – Great for big weddings where I’m limited on space to move around. Also, a favorite for headshots, or anywhere I need killer compression. It’s a heavy-duty lens, and it becomes heavy after a long day. It doesn’t leave my bag as much anymore, but still is there when I need it.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4 – Kind of an unusual focal length, but I love the fall off and bokeh this lens provides. While it doesn’t come out of my bag as often as others, when it does, the results are sweet. Its got some of the most beautiful renderings of color of any of my lenses.

I use it mainly for engagement shoots and fun detail shots if the room is somewhat dark.

🤖 Related: Nikon Lens Guide

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 – This one generally only comes out of my bag for family formals, but it’s a solid lens that offers beautiful bokeh and the color rendering is spot on. Compression is great for busy backgrounds.

Worth a Mention for Travel and Street Photography

Fuji X-T30 (not pictured) – I’ve just started using this one, but I am liking where it is going.

Light, easy to conceal for street photography, and I’ll soon be adding it to my wedding lineup. I add street scenes into my storytelling, and being able to grab guests when they don’t know you are there is priceless.

It would also be a great camera for family travel if you don’t want to haul gear. I’m using it for the Shotkit photo.

Flash Systems

I keep it simple when it comes to strobes. I use the systems that are tried and true because there’s nothing that will throw you off your game more than your strobes failing.

Godox AD200 – Series Studio Lights – Lightning-fast recycle time and run off lithium batteries, which is a lifesaver. True portable studio lights that give you 200W seconds of light each, and are three times more powerful than a speedlight.

Godox V860II – Less powerful than their AD200 big brothers, but super portable for things like receptions, getting ready in a small space, etc. You always need to carry a speedlight for those in a pinch moments, and this one does the job. Li-ion rechargeable too!

Godox Triggers – Godox lighting + Godox triggers = it works.

MagMod – Grids for couples’ portraits to direct that light exactly where I want it, the Sphere for that gorgeous softbox look. Simple, fast and effective. A valuable system for me when on the go.

I am shooting on location a lot. Having the portability of the Speedlights is important. Pair that with the ability to control the light around me with MagMod grids and fix color tones with gels, makes for a powerful on-the-go lighting package.

RL Handcrafts Clydesdale Pro-DLX Dual Camera Strap – Getting the weight off your neck, and onto your shoulders is great. When it helps pull your shoulders back, even better. I’ve had this harness for close to four years and it’s still going strong. Quality leather, quality build!

Bags – I only use THINK TANK bags, for one reason: they work!  Streetwalker Hard-drive, Mindshift 20L, the Airport Takeoff V2 Roller, and the Retrospective 30.

Cheetah Stands – Quick, easy, and less twisting and turning. The footprint of them automatically extends, cutting down on time for adjustments. Pick up, set down.

Get in touch with me at the links below.

www.michaelfreas.com | @michaelfreas

Inside Michael’s camera bag:

Nikon D850

Fujifilm XT-30

Nikon 85mm f/1.8

Tamron 35mm f/1.8

Nikon 16-35mm f/4

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8

Nikon 58mm f/1.4

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

Godox V860ii

Think Tank Photo Streetwalker

Think Tank Photo Airport Takeoff

Think Tank Photo Retrospective

CheetahStand C12 Lightstand

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