Steven Meert

2

Hi everyone, I’m Steven Meert, a self-taught photographer from Belgium, based in Gent.  Almost 20 years ago I bought my very first camera, a Sony Cybershot.

I told my wife we needed it for taking pictures of our first child but to be honest, I also wanted it for a concert by my favourite band They Might Be Giants.

A couple of years later, my wife gave me my first DSLR as a birthday present, a Canon 400D. I was bedbound after a serious accident and she thought I could use some distraction. I read the entire manual and experimented every single day.

Eventually, it turned into a real hobby. At that time, I only took pictures of our children (3 by then). After having seen my photographs, friends and family started asking for shoots of their own kids.

A few years later I started charging money for this. It allowed me to invest in new material. The first thing I bought was a prime lens, the Canon 50mm f/1.4. This lens took me to the next level. I upgraded to a Canon 40D sometime later. I sold all of that later on.

One day, a colleague of mine asked me to take pictures of his wedding. Initially, it scared the hell out of me. The pressure to get things right was huge. Since I had to take pictures in a dimly lit church I needed a better camera and lens.

I decided on the Canon 5D Mk II combined with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, which are still in my kit. Before I knew it, I had 12 wedding shoots the following year and I needed some back-up gear.

I’m afraid I eventually developed GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)…

Cameras

Canon 5D Mk II (x2) & Canon 5D Mk III:  I used these cameras a lot for my wedding shoots. They perform really well at high ISO settings and the focusing, especially with the Canon 5D Mk III, is very fast and accurate.

A couple of years ago, I made the switch to mirrorless cameras; my DSLR’s were simply too heavy to carry around.

I still use them for certain portrait shoots, particularly with my Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens and I still need them for my architecture shots as I haven’t got a tilt-shift lens for my mirrorless cameras.

Fuji X100S, Fuji X-PRO2 & Fuji X-T2:  I love the small size of these cameras. I got quite fed up with carrying too much gear. I decided on Fuji because I think they are very user friendly. They’ve got separate dials for all the necessary settings, which allows me to work very fast.

Lenses

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8:  This used to be my all-round workhorse. Eventually, I stopped using it because I needed larger apertures.

Canon 85mm f/1.2:  Still my all-time favourite lens. Even though I’ve got the Fuji equivalent, I still prefer this one. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the pictures I take with my Canon 5D Mk III and this lens still beat all the pictures I shot with my Fuji cameras.

Canon 24mm f/1.4:  For my wedding shoots I always carried this one together with the Canon 85mm f/1.2. These were the only focal lengths I really needed.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8:  At wedding receptions, I like taking candid shots. This lens is ideal for that.

Canon 24mm f/3.5:  I’m also into architecture photography. I only need one tilt/shift lens for my type of photography and this lens is truly amazing. Hardly any distortion and razor-sharp.

I really like this genre as you can spend a lot of time on just one shot and make everything perfect. I developed this fetish for straight lines. This lens can make me very happy.

Fujinon 16mm f/1.4:  The equivalent of my Canon 24mm f/1.4. Great lens, very sharp!

Fujinon 35mm f/2:  My first Fujinon. Very compact, ideal for travelling.

Fujinon 56mm f/1.2:  The equivalent of my Canon 85mm f/1.2. Good but not as good as the Canon lens. Quite soft at the edges. Still more fun to work with as it is so much smaller.

Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8:  I wanted an all-round lens as well, which is particularly useful when taking pictures of children who don’t want to pose and run around instead. The equivalent of my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 and in this case, I prefer the Fujinon. It’s silent, quick, and very sharp.

Fujinon 80mm f/2.8:  My first macro lens. Macro photography was a genre I wasn’t into in my DSLR days. I enjoy it more and more lately.

Lights/Triggers

Canon 430EX II and Canon 580EX II:  After so many years they still perform really well. I still use them with my Fuji cameras. Works great!

Nissin Di700A Flash:  I bought this flash to have an on-camera flash with my Fujis. The great thing is it comes together with a trigger.

Pocket Wizards Mini TT1 + Pocket Wizards AC3 and Pocket Wizards Flex TT5:  The triggers I use with my Canon gear. Expensive but very reliable. I also use them for the occasional studio shoot with my Elinchrom material.

Cactus V6II Triggers:  I got hold of these to use my Canon flashes with my Fuji cameras. Not as reliable as my Pocket Wizards, but then again, they’re 1/3 of the price as well.

Bags/Straps

Blackrapid Double Breathe:  For my portrait shoots I always use two cameras with 2 primes. As I need to work really fast sometimes, I need to be able to switch between the two cameras very quickly. That’s why I bought this double strap.

Lowepro Camera bag (x3):  3 different sizes, depending on the assignment. For my architecture shoots I take the smallest one as I only need one camera+lens. For my wedding shoots I used to carry this large bag, with two light stands attached to it. Luckily I have outgrown this approach to photography.

Think Tank Retrospective 4:  This bag perfectly fits my two Fujis with the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 and Fujinon 56mm f/1.2. That’s all I need for 80% of my shoots. A thing I like about this bag is it doesn’t look like a camera bag.

Tripods

Manfrotto 190XB + Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head:  I only use a tripod for my macro and architecture shots. I bought another head for this tripod. This head made my life as an architecture photographer a lot easier as it allows me to make very small, precise adjustments.

Manfrotto Light Stands 5001B (x2):  I use these for my flashes. They’re very light and compact.

Software

Adobe Lightroom Classic:  90% of my post-production is done in LR. With every single update it gets better and better.

Nik Collection by DxO:  I particularly like Silver Efex Pro. I really love the grain you can add in this plugin, it looks better than the grain in LR.

Luminar 4:  I bought this plugin for LR only recently. Quite amazing what you can do with the sky with this piece of software.

Misc.

Vello Two-Axis Hot-Shoe Bubble Level:  As mentioned above, I have a fetish for straight lines. This little tool helps me a lot. It’s so much more accurate than the small bubble level in my tripod or the virtual horizon in my cameras.

The thing I still enjoy the most is taking pictures of my children; that’s how I started off and that’s why I decided to show these.

I used to rely on my heavy DSLR’s for that but the past few years I almost exclusively used my Fuji X100S. It’s so compact and so much fun to work with. I ordered the X100V but I’m still awaiting its arrival.

If anyone asked for advice, I would tell them to keep on shooting what they enjoy the most, don’t just do paid assignments. You can experiment more and be more creative with your personal work.

www.gekiekt.be | @stevenmeert

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