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I am a fine-art photographer focusing on dogs and our relationship with them. I have been photographing dogs since 2010, and 2014 is the year that changed my life: my Wet Dog series went viral, I won a Sony World Photography Award with it, got a book deal, and now my new project Flower Power is also going viral.
Good gear is important but I don’t collect photo gear. I am not a super technical photographer. I am very loyal to my equipment and I believe that limitations make us more creative. Once I found the perfect camera/lens/light combo, I just worked with it.
I have been using a Nikon D7000 for a few years and now I just acquired the Nikon D810 because I wanted to upgrade to a full frame camera. The size of the files makes the workflow very different and I have a hard time letting go of my D7000 that accompanied me all these years and made my work what it is. So I barely used the Nikon D810 but I am excited to take it on the field.
Most of my work is studio work. I transport my studio often, whether it is to photograph dogs at shelters (to help promote them to potential adopters like these) or to photograph dogs being bathed at groomers (for my upcoming Wet Dog book). I always have a small suitcase ready to go, containing a light and all the basics I need to work with dogs.
My Nikon cameras teamed up with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens are unbeatable! I adore this lens. I use it for anything in the studio. When I work with street dogs (like for my Dead Dog Beach project in Puerto Rico) or for documentary projects I use a lighter wide angle lens (Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with my Nikon D7000). Now I am looking into getting a new lens to use with my Nikon D810, one that would be lighter than the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, probably the Nikon 28 mm f/1.8.
As for lights, for studio work I use Alien Bees. I love how simple they are and inexpensive. Since I carry them around town, I know they are pretty sturdy and I am not as worried they might get damaged. I own 4 of them, which allows me to create very refined lighting, at a rather low cost. I use them with the Paul C. Buff CyberSync system. I love it. It is also easy and inexpensive to outfit them with umbrellas, grids and soft boxes as they are lots of compatible options out there.
When I am on the field I use a speed light (an old Sigma) with WanSen Flash Trigger system, and I put a small soft box on the speed light.
Besides the photo gear itself, I have to carry lots of things to photograph dogs: toys, accessories to make adoptable dogs stand out, peanut butter for the most reluctant models, hand sanitizer to sanitize between each model when working with rescues or stray dogs, wipes to clean up the nose print dogs leave on my lens all the time when they come over to check the camera out, masking tape is my best friend and so are rolls of colorful papers (waterproof ones for my Wet Dog shoots).
Can I say I have the best job in the world?
Inside Sophie Gamand’s camera bag:
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