What do I shoot with? I get email and DM’s on Instagram asking me quite often what camera I shoot with, what lenses I use, etc. I thought it would be much easier to simply create a web page with the gear I use with a few tips if anyone has any questions. So here’s my gear and some info about each item.
This is my go-to camera body that I shoot the majority of my images with. For me, it’s the perfect combination of a lightweight full-frame workhorse that performs extremely well in low light. I prefer SD cards, and the dual-SD card slots offer an instant backup while shooting, unlike my D810 which has one SD card slot and one Compact Flash slot. When people ask what camera I use, this is it.
For portraiture, this is also my go-to lens. It’s fantastic, relatively small, pristine, and the f/1.4 aperture really allows for ultra-thin shallow depth of field and creamy bokeh. If you’re on a budget, I started out with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and that was also a fine lens. For me, 85mm is the perfect focal length for portraiture on a full-frame camera.
This thing is an absolute beast. It’s a bazooka really. I find that it’s far too large and heavy to carry around on outdoor shoots and walkabouts. However, where it shines is in-studio. The glass quality and sharpness is pristine, and I use this lens for in-studio catalog, fashion, and product photography.
This little lens is one of the best lenses Nikon makes in terms of quality vs. cost. It’s inexpensive, ridiculously small, and provides a nice mid-range focal length for full-length images and more. It’s so small that I keep this pancake lens in bag at all times, and shooting at f/1.8 with this lens still can provide some excellent bokeh. This inexpensive lens is a must-buy to me.
As I started shooting more full-length fashion, I knew I was going to need a versatile 24-70mm zoom in my arsenal. By default, I tested out the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and it was a fine lens, but I was shocked when I tested out the Tamron. This Tamron lens is basically a fraction of the cost of the Nikon, and the results I found were are superior to Nikon’s offering. That’s not a typo. The sharpness is amazing, and this lens is a key part of my “holy trinity” of lenses for the way I shoot. I have this 24-70mm, my 70-200mm Nikon zoom, and my 85mm f/1.4 prime. With these lenses in my toolkit, I have all my bases covered for fashion, portraiture, catalog work, product photography, etc.
Ok, you might be wondering why I also have a Nikon D810 that isn’t my go-to camera when it has “better” specs and is more expensive. Well, for me, specs are specs, and I select the best tool for the job regardless of the price. I love shooting with the Nikon D810 in-studio. It feels more solid than the D750, the shutter click is silky smooth, and it offers 36MP images for ultra-high resolution. So, then why don’t I shoot with this all the time? Well, to me it’s heavier, and I don’t need the increased megapixels most times. Increased MP’s means larger files, more time importing and editing, and I find the D750 is perfect for me. Thus, I typically shoot in-studio with the D810 when needed, and this is my backup camera body.
I’ll say it right now. This is the most over-priced item in Nikon’s entire lineup, and frankly, they should be ashamed for price gouging this. There are many third party options that are much MUCH cheaper, and if you find one you like, go for it. I personally have found that all of the others don’t quite fit right and aren’t as solid as the Nikon-branded MB-D16, so I caved. When shooting portraits, I only shoot with a a battery grip, and although the battery life on the Nikon D750 lasts an eternity, I bought it for the feel and ease of use when shooting in portrait mode. A battery grip is a must-have for me, and that means I also purchased a Nikon MB-D12 Battery grip for my Nikon D810 as well, but again, this price point is shameful.
I know photographers can be fairly fanatical about their camera bags (myself included) but this is the best camera bag I’ve ever owned. In fact, I’ve been using it for so long that the sun has faded it a bit, yes, that long. It’s still in great shape,
and it’s small but easily holds my Nikon D750 with battery grip, 85mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8, Hoodman Loupe, Giottos Rocket Air, binder clips, gum, whipes, etc. It’s the perfect bag for me. In fact, I love it so much, I also got the larger Lowepro Slingshot 302 AW camera bag as well for shoots that may require the 70-200mm lens, but this 202 Slingshot is the perfect bag for me.
These are the memory cards I use when shooting. I’m a creature of habit and always format each SD card before each shoot, and in all my time shooting I’ve literally never had an SD card fail from SanDisk. 64Gb is more than enough when shooting all day, and my D750 has a dual-setup to write to each card when shooting for backup purposes. Even with that, I’ve never run out of space either with 64GB shooting RAW. I’m sure there are other fine SD card manufacturers out there, but I’ve never had a fail and thus, I’ve never had to look elsewhere.
I shoot…a lot. So I need a ton of hard drive storage to store images and for backup purposes. My main OS and scratch disk runs of an SSD, so for storage I need a lot of capacity, reliability, and no lag. These relatively inexpensive hard drive from Western Digital are my goto choice, and I have 6 of them in various external enclosures. No fails yet over the years and years I’ve been using them.
For in-studio strobes, I shoot with Paul C. Buff Einsteins. They are cost-effective, solid, have excellent customer service, and have excellent power. Paul C. Buff keeps costs down by only selling direct to the public, and not via other online sites. I also have five AlienBee strobes that I also use and rent out with my studio. All strobes work well for me and are highly recommended.
For in-studio strobes, I use this larger Pelican 1610 rolling case. It holds five Paul C. Buff Einstein e640 strobes, along with some wireless triggers, cables, and a light meter.
So why two cases? Well, this smaller Pelican 1510 case is perfect to store just my camera body and lenses. It stores my D750 with battery grip, my large 70-200mm zoom, my 85mm f/1.4, my 50mm f/1.8 and my Tamron 24-70mm along with some other accessories. It’s also a size that fits for carry-on for airline travel, so this is what I use when traveling as well. Perfect size case for all my lenses and camera body.
If you shoot outdoors in natural light as much as I do, you’re constantly going to be squinting in the bright sun and covering the back of the LCD display on your DSLR to actually view the images. After you’ve done this more than a few times, you realize how frustrating this can be. Instead of that, I use this tool that covers the LCD and even has a lens so you can focus more clearly on the back of your camera. I use the 3.2″ version for my D750, but these are fairly universal. Are they expensive? Yes, but they have been crucial to me on more than one shoot, and they’re built very well and come with a small zipper case you can throw in your bag to protect it. Great item.
I shoot the majority of my images with just natural light and no reflectors at all. However, on the rare occasion when I need a reflector, this cheap 5-in-1 works great for my shooting style. I typically use the white side for a bit of fill, and I never ever use the gold side. But this is a great tool to throw in the car or have on-hand when shooting outdoor natural light portraits.
Get these. Trust me, just get these. I remember reading about these wipes years ago and they were originally created for medical devices. And if you’re ever out in the field and need to wipe your lens, you’re going to want to use your shirt or a kleenex. Don’t. Use these since they’re cheap, lint free and you can slip them into some Ziploc bags and have a few in each of your camera bags.
Why binder clips? Well, in portraiture having a few assorted sizes of binder clips has been crucial to the way I shoot. Clothing doesn’t always fit just right, so cheat with these binder clips that can be pinned in the back, or clipped on sleeves to give the illusion of tailored clothes when shooting. I always had a few of these at the ready, even in my small camera bag.
I have both the large and small size of this tool. It’s fantastic. The small one fits in my Lowepro bag, and the large one stays in studio. It’s especially important to keep the surface of the lens clean when shooting, and even more so when you’re out shooting near a beach or grassy field. Dust is your enemy. I use the rocket air many times when shooting in dusty locations, and it’s simple and easy.
San Francisco Bay Area Portrait Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Headshot Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Beauty Headshot Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Hypercolor Creative Portrait Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Yoga & Fitness Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Photographer • San Francisco Online Dating Profile Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area High School Senior Portrait Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Personal branding Photographer • San Francisco Bay Area Natural Light Portrait Photographer