Saturday, February 28, 2015

The "less is more" in the Photography World

As a Studio Photographer I have spent the last 15 years of my professional life doing things in a certain kind of way. During this time i owned small photography studios, or had access to bigger ones, depending on the kind of work I was doing, and I guess I took for granted all the equipment I was using by then, because all of that was there and ready to use whenever I needed it. Even when I had to photograph out of the studio, I used carry most of the equipment on a van like a mobile studio and run on battery power for the lighting equipment. Most of the time I worked in a small team of 2 or 3 persons, so it was easy and fast to manage the logistics of a photoshoot and get the job done.
Recently I moved from Portugal to Luxembourg and instead of studio photography, my line of work is much more oriented to editorial photography right now.
I travel a lot around central Europe and most of my work is done on the go, so I really had to rethink the way I was used to do things. All that equipment that was always available in the studio, is not an option anymore.
Nowadays, I spend so much time in aeroplanes that everything I carry with me needs to be compact, lightweight and airline friendly so that really made me go back to the basics, as far as photographic equipment.
In the beginning I tried to work with a simple shoulder bag with a camera body, a couple of lenses, a speedlite flash and a laptop for image storage and editing on the go, but I was always finding myself limited by equipment when I wanted to do simple things like a portrait with some nice lighting or a longer exposure with a tripod.
I got to a point where I was no longer disposed to compromise the quality of my work because of equipment logistics, so I had to figure out a way to have all the stuff I needed inside a TSA approved hand luggage sized bag and be able to travel with it.
Of course this turned out to be a meticulous, and sometimes nearly obsessive mission, where the size and weight vs utility of everything was the main key.
All this work wasn't done overnight and I truly consider it a constant work in progress where I always try to upgrade the gear I use and the way things are organized.
I'm not saying that you need to have all this equipment or carry all this to a photoshoot, in fact, I believe that the best images are usually the most simple ones and that the equipment should not be a limitation, but when it comes to professional photography work I don't want to feel I'm compromising on anything or leave with the feeling I could have done better.
The setup I came up with is what works better for me and I truly believe that having this things available and organized this way, makes me feel a lot more creative and confident on the way I photograph.
The "less is more" approach I'm having here is going to sound like a joke to most people, because in fact I carry a lot of stuff with me, but I guess you'll understand the concept once you realize that every object I carry has in fact a lot of different uses and allows me to produce images that would be impossible to do any other way.
So here is what I usually carry with me most of the time:

It’s a Peli Case 1510 and a tripod bag.
And this is what’s inside:

This is a fantastic setup that weights around 15Kgs for the Peli Case with all the camera gear and around 6,5Kgs for the tripod bag with all the tripods and hardware.
This allows me to travel with all the stuff that I need to be prepared for almost anything.
In the tripod bag I have:

  • Army Antenna Bag (has the perfect size to be used as a tripod bag)
  • 3x Manfrotto 001B that I use for off camera flash support
  • 3x Westcott 43” Collapsible White Satin Black Removable Cover Umbrellas
  • Magic Arm 7”
  • 2x Manfrotto Nano Clamps
  • 3x Flash Support Brackets
  • Fotopro C-5i Camera Tripod

These items have been carefully chosen to allow me to have an off camera flash setup that is easy carry and fast to assemble and the camera tripod is the best relation between size, weight and stability I could find for the camera i use.

In the Peli Case (top to bottom, left to right) I have:

  • Black Peli Case 1510 with dividers and lid organizer
  • Canon 5D III with vertical grip
  • Sekonic Dualmaster L-558 with Pocket Wizard Transmitter
  • Canon EF 80-200 2.8 L
  • Canon EF 24-70 2.8 L
  • Canon EF 17-40 4 L
  • Canon EF 8-15 4 L
  • Canon EF 50 1.4
  • 2x Canon Speedlite 580EX II
  • Canon Speedlite 580EX
  • Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2
  • Canon RC-1 Wireless remote
  • Canon Compact Battery Pack CP-E4
  • Case with Sandisk SD and Compact Flash Cards
  • Sanyo/Eneloop XX 1,2V 2450mAh AA Batteries
  • Sanyo/Eneloop battery charger
  • Digital Battery Tester
  • Canon LP-E6 Battery Charger
  • Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3
  • Canon OC-E3 Off-Camera Shoe Cord
  • 4x Canon LP-E6 Batteries
  • Multi-card reader
  • 4x Phottix Atlas wireless triggers
  • X-Rite Color Checker
  • TYLT ENERGI10KGY-T Charger
  • Selens SE-31 Triple Flash Support
  • 2x Flash Grids
  • Sto-Fen flash diffuser
  • TP-LINK TL-MR3040 to use with DSLR Controller
  • Trigger Trap with Canon cable
  • Filter Pouch with B+W circular polarizer filters and an Expodisc
  • Lenspen and fiber cloth
  • Peli silica gel desiccant
  • Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline
  • Apple Lightning to USB Cable and charger
  • 2x TSA approved locks
  • Leatherman Multitool

Everybody asks me how am I able to fit all this stuff inside a Peli Case and I really don´t know how to answer that, but that fact is that it fits and it works great for me because it is easy to keep it organized and its fast to pack and unpack.
In the next article I will talk about how I use each and every one of this items in my work, so keep posted!

About the author:

Ivo Guimarães
Porto, Portugal
Photographer and Educator.
Master in Artistic Contemporary Creation.
Professor and investigator of Escola Superior Artística do Porto photography’s department.
Specializing in digital photography (capturing and editing), develops professional activity in the area for Portuguese market leader companies.