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What’s In My Bag: A Portrait Pro’s Multi-location Essential Gear

Photographing High School seniors is a part of my portrait business and one that my wife and I are expanding. The offering is slightly different for each session, but what we recently did for our client Olivia, is the way we want to do all our senior portraits. That session included a studio portrait session (a’ la Vanity Fair), portraits at her home and a sunset portrait session at the beach. To offer this kind of a session at a good rate, we work efficiently and plan thoroughly. We also move efficiently by staying as light as possible with the shooting equipment.  

Cameras

Sony α9: My new go-to has become the Sony α9. This camera is superb because of the precision auto focus and how quickly it finds the eye of the subject which I find critical for my portraiture. When tracking any action (for example at the beach), the camera tracks so accurately and is a joy to use.  At 24mp, the file size is perfect. It’s not too large and I haven’t noticed any issues since moving to it from my previous go-to camera, the Sony α7R II (which is also superb).

Sony α7S II: I also have a Sony α7S II. It’s a fantastic camera and it’s my main back for most of my portrait sessions. 


Lenses

Most of my work is done with a simple collection of 3 to 5 lenses and these multi-location portrait sessions are no different.

Sony 55mm f/1.8: For the studio portion, I tend to use the Sony 55mm f/1.8

Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master: I also use this outstanding G Master lens in the studio frequently.

Sony 24-70mm f2.8 A mount: The 24-70mm f2.8 A mount lens is one of my favorites (the manual focus is superb for an auto focus style lens and one of the reasons I keep it) and I use it on an E mount camera with the LA-EA3 adaptor.

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master: This lens comes into play when I’m doing the beach portraits or at the home. 

Lighting


Lighting is critical to distinguish my work and knowing how to use off camera flash is a big part of that. For my off camera flash needs I use the Godox AD200 and the X1 remote. This strobe is a more powerful flash — about 3.5 times more powerful than a conventional speed light and I need it when outdoors to match or try to overpower the natural daylight. To mount the AD200 to a light modifier requires the Cheetah Speed Pro S Bracket that holds this light as well as speed lights. It’s a solid bracket. The Cheetah Stand QWBD is a collapsible, 33” beauty dish that is fast and easy to set up and works well with my Godox flash units. I use an 8-foot light stand to support my lighting rig.

Camera Bag

My carry pack of choice these days is a Think Tank Photo Speed Freak v2 belt pack. It holds the 70-200 f2.8 G Master face down (with the hood reversed) and has a harness system that helps support the weight of the gear.

For every portrait session, I work to create an experience in all aspects of the shoot. Each one includes a pre-planning consultation where we talk about clothing choices, locations, what they are hoping for from the session and the actual portrait session itself. Then the clients come back to the studio to view their retouched and printed portraits. Those steps help insure that they have a great experience and get the portraits that they love and it’s such a great way to connect with your clients.

 

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