Neville Black

Heya! I’m a wedding & portrait photographer on Vancouver Island, located off the west coast of Canada in the Pacific North West. I live on the edge of the Salish Sea surrounded by beautiful coastal rainforests and mountains. And while I love to travel and work in new places, there’s no other place I would rather be with my camera in hand.

I used to carry a lot of gear, even as an assistant. In fact, I carried more when I was an assistant! It was a great time for me to experiment. When I first started, I was one of those people who just bought gear because it was talked about a lot on Flickr or looked cool. The best advice I can give when it comes to what gear to use is this: less is better. And since my first ShotKit write up a few years back, I’ve dropped a lot of my gear.

I still use two cameras, one flash, and I make sure to only bring three lenses with me. One, it’s better for my shoulders and back, and two, it lets me focus on taking better pictures and not worrying about lugging so much crap around. Ideally, I wish I could just go to a wedding with one camera and one lens.

This isn’t all my gear by a long shot, I still have a closet of junk, but it is what I would typically carry around with me for most gigs.

BAGS:

Filson McCurry Sportsman Bag – A well-built and well-designed bag that’s rugged, fits all that I need to take with me, looks beautiful and can be handed down to the next generation. I probably take this bag to seventy-five percent of my jobs.

Think Tank Signature 13 – Think Tank bags can take years of abuse and still look and work like new. Think Tank has always made bags that are as close to the perfect bag that I’ve found. It’s the brand I started out with as an assistant back in the day and it’s a brand I still trust, especially when traveling. The most recent Think Tank bag I use at weddings is their Signature messenger. It has that Think Tank quality with an incredible modern design.

CAMERAS:

Canon 5D series – When I decided to take photography as a career, I bought the 5D Mark II. It was a killer full-frame camera at a reasonable price. Years later I moved on to the Canon 5D Mark III and couldn’t be happier.

Ricoh GR II – I used to photograph my family as well as street photography with the Fuji X100s. I sold it a while back and regretted the decision, but I’ve since moved on to the Ricoh GRII and have LOVED it for street work. It’s a little wide for family stuff, but it’s really small, fits in my front pocket and takes pictures sharper than any camera I’ve owned.

I don’t really care for the colours. They’re fine, just personal opinion really, but I shoot 90% black and white with it anyway. My only issue with the camera is the lens has no protection and if I want a protective cover it becomes a lot less compact.

Canon AE-1 – I can’t let go of film. Never could. I wouldn’t shoot with all film professionally— it’s not my thing—but for personal family photos, I can’t get enough of it. It takes me back to being a kid and the grittier, the more grain and dust, the better.

Nate & Jaclyn from ‘the Image is Found’ are, for me, the single most inspiring film photographers in the wedding industry and probably the only photographers I’ve followed since day one. Their family photos on their personal blog are what keep me inspired. Check it out if you can. I used to shoot film primarily with Lomo but with the 28mm lens on this, I can’t put it down. (I shoot most often with Kodak Gold 400 and Ilford HP5)

Apple iPhone & iPod Touch – It’s one of the best and most used cameras I own. It’s legit, son.

LENSES:

Glass isn’t cheap, this we all know. So choosing one lens over another isn’t always very easy to do. I’ve found over the years that some of the lower priced lenses are just as good or better than their higher end counter part. So don’t always worry about not owning top of the line glass. I still prefer the 50mm f/1.4 over my f/1.2

Canon 35mm f/1.4 – My go-to lens. It goes with me on every shoot, I’d be lost without it.

Canon 50mm f/1.2 – I sold my 50mm f/1.4 a while back and miss the hell out of it, but the images that come out of the f/1.2 are delicious.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 – I use this for macro shots a lot but to be honest, while it’s not my Canon 135mm f/2L, it produces some sharp photos when you need that extra distance and I use it more. It’s replaced my other telephoto lenses for shoots where I just want to carry less with me.

LIGHT:

Canon 580 EX II – I love these flashes, but I don’t shoot with them as much as I used to. Great light and easy to use, not much else to say about them really.

MISC:

HoldFast Money Maker – Shake it. It’s a game changer and has not only made photographers all over the world look like hipster gun slingers, but it has saved our backs. There are times when I will use a Think Tank camera strap or Dome straps over the Money Maker, but for weddings, like my 35L, I wouldn’t leave the house without it.

Computer – MacBook Pro with Flash storage, it’s ‘Bat out of Hell’ fast. When it comes to Lightroom, I wouldn’t edit on any other machine… unless that other machine is faster. You can see I also use an external drive for backing up images, no preference on brand.

Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket – I love ’em! For my Lexar and Sandisk 16Gb – 64Gb CF & SD cards. They can carry 4 – 12 cards and more if you double them up in the single pockets. The one pictured is a special edition leather wallet and every now and then they release different designs.

Think Tank Battery Holder – I keep a few spare batteries in these wallets. Great for keeping 2 – 4 extra batteries organized in one spot.

www.nevilleblack.com

Inside Neville’s camera bag:

2014

Hey. I’m Neville, and not the kid from Harry Potter. I’m a wedding & portrait photographer on Vancouver Island in the Pacific North West. I live on the edge of the Salish Sea surrounded by a beautiful coastal rainforest and jagged mountains. And while I love to travel and work in new places, there’s no other place I would rather be with my camera.

I used to carry a lot of gear, even as an assistant. In fact I carried more when I was an assistant, it was a great time for me to experiment. When I first started, I was one of those people who just bought gear because it was talked about a lot on Flickr or looked cool. The best advice I can give when it comes to what gear to use is, less is better. Don’t buy an 85mm f/1.2 just because everybody says it’s the best. What’s good for one photographer might not be good for the other. It’s a lot of money to spend on glass that you might be able to get better results from – at more than half the cost (depending on what you’re photographing). I’m trying to carry less gear now. One, it’s better for my shoulders and back, and two, it lets me focus on taking better pictures and not worrying about lugging so much crap around. I wish I could just go to a wedding with one camera and two lenses.

This isn’t all my gear by a long shot, but it is what I would typically carry around with me for most gigs.

BAGS:

Filson McCurry Sportsman Bag – A well built and designed bag that is rugged, fits all that I need to take with me, looks beautiful and can be handed down to the next gen.

Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise 40 (not shown) – These bags can take 4 years of abuse and still look new. It’s the bag I started out with as an assistant and it’s a bag I still use, especially when traveling.

CAMERAS:

Canon 5D series – When I decided to start photographing as a career, I went with the 5D. It was a killer full frame camera at a good price. I had some issues with the mkii but have since upgraded to the Canon 5D mk iii and couldn’t be happier.

Fujifilm X100s – I refused to jump on the band wagon prior to the S. I was just another junky point and shoot to me, but the Fujifilm X100s really had something special to it. It has since become my go-to camera for trips and family, but by no means a replacement to my DSLRs. If Fuji can, and I believe they will, create a camera like this that can replace my 5D series, I will make the switch. But until then, it’s only being packed for personal work.

Lomo LC-W – I can’t let go of film. Never could. I wouldn’t shoot with all film professionally, it’s not my thing but for personal work and around the town, I can’t get enough of it. It takes me back to being a kid and the grittier, the more grain and dust, the better. That Lomo glass just adds to the beauty of the photo making it my favourite film camera. Plus it has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. ( I typically shoot with Kodak Gold 400 and Tmax 400. )

iPhone – It’s one of the best and most used cameras I own. I’ve made money and won awards with the photos taken on that thing. It’s legit.

LENSES:

Glass isn’t cheap, this we all know. So choosing one lens over another isn’t always very easy to do. For me, I went with what I could afford at the time, and to be honest, I still shoot with most of them.

Canon 35mm f/1.4 – My go-to lens. It goes with me on every shoot, I’d be lost without it.

Canon 50mm f/1.4 – While I would love to shoot with the f/1.2, this lens is amazing. It’s fast and delivers. Remember, it’s not always about what people tell you is ‘the best’ or what’s the most expensive and this is a great example.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 – I use this for macro shots a lot but to be honest, while it’s not the Canon 135mm f/2L, it produces some sharp photos when you need that extra distance. It’s replaced my other telephoto lenses for shoots where I just want to carry less with me.

LIGHT:

Canon 580 EX II – I love these flashes, but will be changing them up soon. Great light and easy to use, not much else to say about them really. I also use a Nikon SB 28 that I find more reliable when it comes to using them with Pocket Wizards.

MISC:

HoldFast Money Maker – Shake it. It’s a game changer and has not only made photographers all over the world look like hipster gun slingers, but it has saved our backs. There are times when I will use a Think Tank camera strap over the Money Maker, but for weddings, like my 35L, I wouldn’t leave the house with out it.

Computer – MacBook Pro with Flash storage, it’s bat out of Hell fast. When it comes to Lightroom, I wouldn’t edit on any other machine.

Think Tank Pixel Pocket RocketI love ’em! For my Lexar and Sandisk 16G CF cards. They can carry 4-10 CF cards. The one pictured is a special edition leather wallet and often they will release different designs.

Think Tank Battery Holder – I keep a few spare batteries in these wallets. Great for keeping 2-4 extra batteries organized in one spot.

Field Notes – I always need to note things down when I’m out and about. That and I like to draw mystical animals crossed with other animals. “Liger. It’s pretty much my favourite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic.”

HoldFast Lens Cloth – Best looking ones I’ve owned to date. That and the quality is great.

www.nevilleblack.com

Inside Neville’s camera bag:

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