Let’s face it. We photographers love our gear. More often than not, we are tempted to buy things we only think we need. Or we manage to convince ourselves that these latest gadgets are absolutely necessary. Experience, research and finally the inevitable bank breaking expense deters most. For all you budding fashion photographers wondering what kind of gear is a must in your bag,
I am not going to list the obvious basics like a tripod or have a discussion on the kind of lights you should carry around. Lighting is sometimes pretty overrated during fashion shoots. So below are the 5 absolute essentials a fashion photographer building up his career needs to own.
1. Prime Lens
The prime lens in my kit has pretty long working hours on during my shoots. I have a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 which is one of the first lenses I bought. If you are wondering what I am doing using a 50mm to shoot people, I should clarify that this isn’t classic portraiture and my frame does include a lot more than just my model. Fashion gives a lot more flexibility to the craft and hence allows for creative licenses that others might not. These impromptu portraits with the lovely Sanjana Ganesan was shot with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4.
#ProTip: Go for the f/1.4 Nikon or the f/1.2 Canon. Costs more than the f/1.8 but well worth the expense.
2. The 70-200 f/2.8
Irrespective of whether you pack a Nikon or a Canon, you are bound to have come across this lovely beast of a lens that is the 70-200. It looks as gorgeous as the images it is capable of creating. Think about it. F/2.8 across the board! Add that to the 200mm focal length and you have one of the most versatile lenses strapped to your DSLR body.
3. Light Meter
Yes you can read a lot about your exposure through the histogram display in the camera. Yes DSLR systems are brilliant at calculating exposures. Call me old fashioned but I prefer to be precise. I love my light meter. I cannot fathom calculating my exposures while using strobes without my light meter.
#ProTip: Try spot metering through a light meter in natural light situations. Trust me, you will not be disappointed with the results.
4. Extra Batteries and Triggers
An extra camera battery isn’t enough. You need to be carrying extra batteries for every device you own that uses disposable or rechargeable batteries. You never know when your radio triggers can fail and the last thing you want to do is look like a fool in front of your client. Shoots are expensive affairs and as such time sensitive as well. You do not have time to find replacements. Pack spares. Always.
#ProTip: If your lights have a slave mode, your on camera flash could trigger it indoor conditions. You might, however, want to consider buying a speedlight.
5. Reference Images
Not all the members of your team will be experienced professionals throughout. Carry references for the type of make up you want. In the pre-production phase collect reference images or create sketches of the types of poses you want your model to execute. Don’t leave things to chance especially when you are working with a new team for the first time.
Every photographer develops his setup over time and will always have few things that he or she would never consider starting a shoot without. What piece of equipment do you always carry with you? Drop a comment below and let me know 🙂
Further Reading: Got your gear sorted and wrapped up your shoot? Avoid these 5 mistakes when you start retouching your images.