What’s in your (professional) bag?
In terms of photography equipment, the most simple set of equipment I will take with me is a Canon 5D III, a range of lenses, a speedlight flash, umbrella and radio transmitters. I always carry backup with me though, too: a second camera body, flash, extra batteries and memory cards. You never know when equipment might let you down, and in the middle of a high pressure shoot, I can’t afford to say ‘sorry, I can’t take any pictures, my camera has failed’.For on-location portrait shoots, I tend to take more extensive equipment though, including Elinchrom studio flashes, tripods, light modifiers and a large battery pack to fire the flashes without needing to be plugged into the mains. On some of these shoots, I may need to download the pictures as they are shot from the camera direct onto my Macbook Air for quick delivery, so in this case I would carry computer equipment with me too.
Not forgetting my iPhone, wallet, keys and a snack of course…my bags are not light!
What lesson have you learnt the hard way?
I’ve faced plenty of challenging situations along the way and don’t regret any mistakes: they are the surest way of learning lessons for good. One of these was not to try to cut corners by buying cheap memory cards for my camera. It was early on in my career and I had bought a couple of CompactFlash cards at the bottom end of the available price range.I spent a whole day taking pictures for a client, a small charity, who had spent much time beforehand making sure that their project workers and beneficiaries would be available that day. It had been hard work, but gone well and I was happy. Until, on the train on the way home, I tried to download the images from the card. ‘Error: card corrupted’ was the message. I didn’t have a single photograph to show from the job.But was one of my first commissions and I simply couldn’t fail, and let my client down. So I used the services of a data recovery company who fortunately was able to break into the card and recover the files: but I ended up paying them twice what I earned to do the job. Ever since, I’ve bought top-of-the-range memory cards. Once, one of these has still failed on me, but the cards come with their own recovery software so in that case I was able to rescue the data myself.
What’s are the best and worst things about your profession?
The best thing for me about being a professional photographer is the freedom I have and the incredible range of people and situations that I get to meet and experience. From following truffle hunters at work in the snow in the Alps to taking a portrait of an Olympic cycling champion in his living room: no two days are the same.I can’t say there is a ‘worst thing’ as such. There are many challenges, such as that of having to, in addition to the photography, manage everything that’s not photography myself (negotiating contracts, financial admin, editing pictures, marketing, IT, logistics) or handle difficult subjects and conditions on an assignment. But nothing’s ever perfect and I like a challenge!