UPDATED: The Social Media Photographer's Shot Kit
Note: I continually update this article as I change my workflow and gear. The "publish" date on the post will tell you when this article was updated last. With that said - The video above no longer represents my current set up. I will have to create a new video with gear and workflow as soon as time allows. For now, I have updated the gear list below. The most dramatic changes include the removal of all DSLR's and mirrorless cameras from most of my shoots and removal of the macbook pro as well.
If you're an online marketing maven, or if you just got stuck managing the social media for your organization because no-one else will - you no doubt have long since realized that photography and video are the leaders in content online. It can be a bit intimidating when you see all the amazing photos online shot by people with the budgets to afford the latest DSLRs with huge, expensive lenses.
I'm here to tell you - that all that heavy, expensive gear is not necessary. To be honest it never really was. To be fair, I was just as bad as anyone about lugging around loads of expensive gear in multiple backpacks - all essentially to shoot images destined to the web. Well, I've had a change of heart and I'm here to give you some new recommendations on gear if you are shooting for the web.
After years, and I mean YEARS of loyally using Canon DSLRs, I recently switched over to Fujifilm mirrorless cameras. Why?
Trey Ratcliff of Stuck In Customs was a trailblazer in the mirror-less switching movement. When he announced he was dropping Nikon for the Sony mirror-less cameras, I realized that considering a switch was a reality. However, Trey shoots primarily landscapes and architecture. Putting any camera on a tripod and shooting a non-moving subject allows for more leeway in selecting gear than when one is shooting fast-moving subjects, handheld, in various light. I knew intuitively that just because he was producing stunning results with his Sonys, it didn’t mean that I could because our styles are so different. In any event, his switch made me start looking for a camera line to move to.
After looking for over a year at other mirror-less cameras and assuming that I was going to make the move to Sony, I did a quick survey of some of my favorite photographers on flickr and 500px. Without realizing it, I had self-selected many mirror-less photographers that use Fujifilm cameras over Sony. So, without so much as seeing a Fujifilm mirror-less camera in real life, much less testing one, I began selling off all my Canon gear (years worth of it) and replaced it all with Fujifilm gear.
Side note here - Let's talk briefly about cost since I mentioned it above. I've realized while I was editing this piece that cost and "expensive" are relative. As I look over the gear I use in my bag now, I have to admit that we're not talking about the blue-light specials at Kmart. However, the kit I have is about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost, piece per piece as the kit I carried before. In addition, as part of this process I've eliminated many items in my kit that are simply unnecessary or that didn't bring enough value when I came to the physical and monetary cost involved.
I said physical - there is also a physical cost when it comes to deciding on what to carry all day in the Texas heat in a backpack. The physical cost of shooting how I used to shoot was a driving factor in me making this switch. I just had to wait for the mirrorless technology to catch up for me to make that move. Aside from the cost of the gear at retail,
If you travel for your work like I do, you also have to consider the extra $50 - $125 you spend per bag on airlines today once you go past your allotted limit. I've been on flights where we had over $1000 in extra bag charges alone, even with the breaks some airlines give to media crews.
One last note on this cost - if you are considering making a switch like this, know that I was able to pay for the ENTIRE new kit through the sales of my old used equipment. That's a very important thing to be mindful of here. If you are considering this, you need to act fast while your current gear has value in the used marketplace.
Admittedly, this was potentially a bone-headed move. It could have been one of the stupidest things I’d ever done. Now that I've been using the cameras for a few months I admit there are a few shortcomings with the mirrorless cameras, especially when shooting sports indoors. But luckily, I absolutely love the Fujifilm line and the photos I’m producing now are closer to what my vision is for my photography than my photos from the Canon gear ever were. This is going to sound counter-intuitive - but the photos I produced with my Canon 7D’s and 5D’s were sharper overall and more crisp than what I produce with the Fujifilm cameras. And that is exactly why I love the Fujifilms. The overly sharp, sterile images produced by the Canon DLSRs, while technically excellent, tend to lack soul to me.
Canon/Nikon fans relax. This is a personal opinion, not a technical review. I’d liken this phenomena to an audiophile’s preference to vinyl recordings over digital recordings. I love the soul and the timber of the colors that the Fujifilm’s produce. It's something like I've never seen produced from a Canon or Nikon.
I have also converted from shooting in RAW and then doing post processing on all my images to shooting in JPG. This allows me to stop carrying around a Macbook Pro - I now only take an iPad with me for all my post processing and publishing on multi-day trips. This, in turn allows me to stop carrying my Lowepro 300AW backpack. In fact, I have already completed a week at CES and a week at NABShow this year without taking a laptop with me at all! I did all my post-processing and distribution on my iPad and iPhone. I even edited and uploaded a couple of videos from the conferences entirely on the iPad.
You should be getting the picture here. If not, let me make it clear for you. Moving from DSLR cameras to mirrors-less has a snowball effect on everything you do and all the gear you carry. Everything becomes smaller and lighter.
With that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the gear in the bag. Here is a complete inventory of all the still photography gear I take with me today, no matter what size the job is or how long the schedule is. I’ve done ALL my work with this kit (with a few small variations) since the beginning of this year. All this gear also fits into a small shoulder bag - where I used to carry the LowePro 300AW and a Timbuk2 Messenger bag, I now only carry a single Domke bag for everything, which also makes flying much easier.
2 Fujufilm X-T1 with the Fujifilm Hand Grip X-T1 Camera Grip cameras. I have now converted to iPhones (6S, 6SPlus and 7) for video almost exclusively and I use the iPhone 7 for half my photo shoots. I carry the Ricoh Theta S for 360 photos and video.
I also use the Zeiss Touit 12mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses but they are rarely in my camera bag, being reserved for studio work.
Moment 10mm, 23mm, 60mm, 170mm superwide Lenses.
COMPUTING ON THE ROAD
THE BAG AND THE STUFF
P.S. - I do pack battery chargers for the cameras, a Fotodiox Flapjack-C200R LED Edge Light LED Round Light Kit, a Fotodiox Flapjack-C200L LED Edge Light Daylight LED Light Kit, and a Manfrotto 680B 4-SCTN monopod in my main luggage on multi-day trips just in case I need them.
P.P.S. - I also have an additional Domke bag/kit with video and audio equipment in it for video shoots. We'll chat about that in another post.
So what's in your social media shot kit?