As a photographer, the tendency is to be prepared for every occasion. We learn throughout the early stages of our career that it is good business practice to be equipped with a wide range of photography equipment. We also come to realise that we shouldn’t be reliant on our photography gear, or seek to upgrade gear just for the sake of it. Instead, our artistic vision and creativity is more pertinent.
However, despite this careful balance of judgement, there’s another paradox we should consider. Namely, our frustration with certain pieces of equipment that are designed to make our jobs easier. Let’s look at some of the biggest culprits, but also remind ourselves why we should persevere using them.
Strobe Lights, Softboxes and Umbrellas
In the studio, these items are akin to set and forget type instruments. Sure, they require tweaks and configurations, but their use is still fairly straightforward. Once you’re outdoors however, it’s a whole different story.
Given their notable size, it’s nothing short of a hindrance to transport these items to a photoshoot on site. What’s more, if the weather conditions are working against you, and there is strong wind or rain, you have a whole other dilemma on your hands. You’ll probably need sandbags, which means more weight and inconvenience. Then you need to consider your power source. It’s unlikely you’ll have access to mains power once outdoors, and battery power can only last so long.
Despite these challenges, if you really want to nail your photos in those dull or harsh conditions, these are your best friends for the job. Your strobe lights will provide the necessary light to fill in your photos, while softboxes and umbrellas can be used to divert and diffuse light to make it softer.
All Those Lenses
So you’re heading outdoors, or on holidays, but you’re not exactly sure what your work will entail. In an effort to cut down on weight, you’re inclined to ditch all those lenses and instead pick up the zoom lens. Not only will you save space, you will save weight too. Sounds perfect, right?
However, doing this, you’re compromising some of your versatility as a photographer. While prime lenses do not offer zoom functionality and make it more difficult to frame subjects, their wider apertures are more accommodating of low light conditions. Furthermore, quality is regarded as superior.
But does this mean you should ditch the zoom lens? Not necessarily. Instead, if you really want to be equipped for the job, you should carry a selection of prime lenses and your zoom lens so that you’re prepared for any conditions.
Your Camera Bag
There’s no diminishing the importance of a sturdy camera bag to safeguard all your gear while on the go. But despite our fundamental reliance on camera bags, it’s as though developers still haven’t caught onto the requisites for the perfect bag.
To begin with, many of them become a burden when taking flights. Depending on your luck with your airline, bags may be judged slightly large enough to require check in. From there, you have a world of worries concerning fragile gear. Next, camera bags don’t seem to offer a suitable mechanism for transporting a tripod. If they do, it’s often ill placed such that it throws things off balance.
Probably the most inconveniencing factor however, is the tendency for the strap to slip off one’s shoulder. Not to mention the strain on your shoulder from all the weight. And if you wear it across your body, you’ll have weight clattering into you as you walk. In recent times backpacks have increased in popularity, offering photographers an option with less strain. Do keep in mind though, these may need to be checked in as well.
What other equipment do you use that drives you nuts but is fundamental to your job?