Pelican 1510 Domke F1X Melvin and Moon Domke F6 Banana Republic Camera Bag Domke F803
The above pictures are of my favorite camera bags. I get asked a lot of questions about camera bags. Mostly what bags do you use and why.
Pelican 1510- this is the largest Pelican case that is carry on approved. I bought this case last Christmas because I was in need of a hard carry on case for transporting my camera gear around. This case can hold my 1DMKIII with 70-200f2.8 IS mounted with lens hood reversed, Canon 50mm f1.4, Canon 85mm f1.8, Canon 24mm f1.4, Lens Baby 2.0, Rocket Blower, a few CDs, 3 Pocket Wizards, cables for Pocket Wizards, card case, note pad, pens, clips, business cards, a few ponchos, 3 way power adapter, a few gels, the battery charger for the 1D MKIII, and a bunch of AA batteries. I use this case mostly for transporting gear from my home to my end destination and will then switch bags to one of the soft bags.
You can purchase the Pelican from Amazon here Pelican 1510-004-110 Medium Carry-On Case with Padded Dividers.
Domke F1X- this is the big boy bag that everyone will recognize you as a PJ with. It is a big heavy canvas bag. I love it. I use this bag when I am going to need to carry a lot of gear and wont be able to go back to the car or studio to swap out gear. It is a soft bag with out much padding which keeps the weight of the bag down. It is also a really easy bag to shoot out of. This bag can carry almost everything that the Pelican 1510 can. One of the best features of the Domke bags is the gripper strap. The strap grips really well to your shoulder and does not slip. You can purchase the Domke F1X from Amazon here Domke 700-10S F-1X Little Bit Bigger Bag (Sand).
Melvin and Moon- this is primarily used as a grip bag. It is a big nice canvas bag. It generally hauls around a Nano stand, power cables, A clamps, Super Clamps, reflectors, Gaff tape, flash brackets and other grip accessories.
Domke F6- This is a smaller F1X it takes away the pockets on the outside of the bag except for a front pocket and a rear pocket. This bag can hold 4 lenses and a camera body. This used to be my primary walk around bag. It is made of the same canvas as the F1X. It is a soft bag that conforms to the body. Also the bag wears in really well. I have used this bag for about 4 years and it is in amazing shape. Like the F1X it is a water resistant bag. I use the standard Domke 4 pocket insert which is a bit snug if you want to put the 70-200 in the bag with the lens hood on. I generally put the lens hood in the larger compartment or on my strap. You can purchase the Domke F-6 from Amazon by clicking here Domke F-6 Little Bit Smaller Bag (Sand)
Banana Republic Camera bag- this bag pulls double duty. This bag is primarily my man bag but also serves as a camera bag for events where I have to be more dressed up. I throw the Domke 3 pocket insert into the main compartment and it allows me to put three lenses in the bag. I then just swap out lenses. The front compartment has enough room to store a flash and a battery pack and a cf card case. This is not the most easy bag to work out of but when I shoot grip and grins at social events this is usually my go to bag.
Domke F803- this is my new go to walk around bag. It holds three camera lenses, some batteries, a note book, and has room for a few pocket wizards. This is the rugged wear edition. It has a coating of wax on the outside that makes it more watter repellent than the other Domke bags. It also wears in really well. Like all Domke bags it is a soft bag with minimal padding. You can purchase the Domke F803 from Amazon Domke 701-83A F-803 Camera Satchel Bag (Brown Waxwear Finish)
When I am looking at camera bags I am looking for a bag that will be easy to carry, will wear in well, and has minimal padding. I like bags with less padding because they give you more room for gear and are lighter weight. Also I find that a lot of photographers put too much faith in the padding in their bags and will treat them carelessly. I find that if you are gentle with these lightly padded bags that they work really well.
Here is a list of photography blogs that I read on a regular basis. Some of them are updated on a regular basis and some are not. They are all excellent resources for photographers at any level. They all give you a glimpse into the life of a professional photographer. I think a lot of them also show the team effort that photography really is.
So this is a slightly off topic post. My wife and I have decided to train for a 5k run. When I was first thinking about this I thought it had no relation to my photography. Then this morning it hit me training to run a 5k does have a lot to do with photography. Living healthy and having a healthy lifestlye reflects in your photography. I have found myself being tired after a day of shooting pictures. In reality this is really sad that I can be tired after a day of holding a camera up and moving lights around. It is by no means back breaking labor and really should not tire me out in the slightest. I have also heard other photographers complain of back pain and getting tired from holding a camera up. I have to encourage everyone to eat healthy and exercise. From time to time I will up date on how the running is going and maybe post some fitness tips. Remember that how you feel on set reflects the outcome.
A few months back I purchased a 64in Silver Paul C. Buff PLM. The PLM is my new favorite lighting modifier. I bought the PLM for a shoot for a community college. I bought it because I needed a big light source that was also light weight and portable, and had a small footprint. The PLM fit the bill perfectly. I also purchased the white front diffusion panel for it. It produces a great softlight when the front diffusion is on. It is also parabolic and allows you to use less power to get a good amount of flash output. With the front diffusion panel off it produces a nice contrasty light. Also the PLM is very afforadable at under $100 for the 64in. You can buy the PLM at http://www.alienbees.com/plm.html. I am in no way related to or funded by Paul C. Buff this is my unbiased review. I will post a few pictures that were made using the PLM later.
Tweet Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding for some of my friends from college. I had the distinct honor to shoot the wedding of Price and Melanie Rainer. It was a great day. We were all surrounded by great friends and family to celebrate their special day.
Yesterday I began an adventure in beard growth. I along with 399 other people registered for the third simi-annual Whiskerino. This is something that I have wanted to do since 2007. In 2007 I discovered Whiskerino when a bunch of my friends entered. Unfortunately in 2007 I found out to late about the contest. This year I registered with in 15 min of Whiskerino opening. You can follow my beard growth at http://www.whiskerino.org/2009/beards/bumgardner/
Tweet A few weeks ago I posted a comment on Facebook that I wanted some people to come by the studio to take some pictures. My day had fallen though because the models that I had arranged for were unable to make it to the shoot. I get a message from Aaron (top picture) that him and Adam (bottom picture) would be able to come by and have some pictures taken. I had not seen or heard from Aaron or Adam for about 10 years. It was great getting to see them both again.
Assisting is probably the best way I know of to get into the professional photography world. Assisting allows you a rare glimpse into the world of professional photography. I get e-mails all the time from people that want to assist me. When I get one of these e-mails if I have time I always invite the person to go out and get a drink or coffee with me so we can get to know each other and that I can get a grasp for their experience. The strange thing is that about half the time the person never actually responds back. The first thing I look for in an assistant is some passion. My life is art and I have a passion for what I do. I want to see that passion in the people around me.
I started off my career as a photo assistant and it is still a large part of my business. I have been assisting fellow photographers for about two years now. In that time I have seen many photo assistants come and go. Some straying from photography all together and others that hit it big in their own photography. I think that assisting is one of the most valuable tools for a young photographer. It allows you to learn the ropes of the professional photography world. You learn the business side, the lighting side, the camera side, the client relation side...you learn everything and you learn it fast. You also teach. You teach the photographer you are working with about their self and their personal style. You always bring something of your own to the shoot. One of the biggest lessons you can learn from assisting is that good photography is often a team effort. An effort shared by wardrobe stylist, make up artist, hair stylist, assistants, photographers, production assistants, location scouts and countless others. That beautiful photo on the cover of Vanity Faire this month did not com from the effort of just one person but a team of people that worked together for a common goal.
Now for some actual tips:
1. Be on time! Really folks the first rule is to show up on time. If you are late espically on the first day this is bad. It is not that hard to plan ahead and be on time.
2. Be on point. Be ready to move when the photographer needs something. Always be thinking ahead.
3. Always keep busy. On a set their is always something that needs to be done.
4. Bring an assisting kit with you. I genearlly carry a knife, a multi tool, gaff tape, AA batteries, cell phone, extra CF and SD cards, sharpie, and some paper.
5. Be quiet on set. The photographer is usually trying to convey detalis to the model also if you are speaking to much you might miss a critical instruction.
6. Know your role. Generally their is a 1st assistant 2nd assistant take your cues from them. The job is the technical nitty gritty so the photographer can focus on the creative.
7. Going with be quiet on set, never push your own agenda. You are their for the photographer not social hour with the client. Don't talk to the client about your own work that is very poor taste also a quick way to get kicked off set.
8. Have a good attitude. Do what the photographer says with a smile. Serve him. Take care of his needs first.
9. Be positive. Be positive about the shoot at hand. Be upbeat and fun. If we are out in a swamp full of misquotes chances are that everyone knows this don't complain about getting bit, life will go on.
10. Ask questions. If you don't understand an instruction or know what to do exactly just ask. Not knowing something can cost extra time and money. If you put up a light wrong and it ends up falling on a clients head because it was not safety tethered... you get the picture ask questions.
11. Be willing to really dig in and work. If that means cleaning the bathroom and windows then do it. It will go a long way. Also be willing to help on personal projects.
This is just what I have gleaned from working as an assistant and a photographer over the last few years. You are welcome to add to the conversation. This is a photography community and everyone can take part.
A few weeks back, I got the call from a political consulting firm to do a shoot for a U.S. Senate candidate that is running for one of the Florida seats. They wanted a quick head shot of the candidate. And by “quick,” they meant 45 minutes total! They said that they needed shots on white, grey, white with a flag in the background, grey with a flag in the background and a causal shot.
So, I had to do some serious advance planning about this shoot. Since we were only going to have 45 minute window, I knew that we would have to pre light the set. I had a crew of three assistants working with me that day. We arrived at the location an hour early (7AM…ouch). I had provided everyone lighting diagrams beforehand so that everyone was on the same page before they arrived. We shot all of the looks on a white cyc wall. We positioned the lights and the candidate far enough away from the back of the cyc wall so that we could turn the wall grey. For lighting, the key was to have a nice traditional portrait but I wanted to give it a little edge. We used a large octa box to camera left tabled at a 45 degree angle. We positioned another light with a grid and a diffuser on it so that it would be aimed at his eyes to give nice bright eyes with nice iris color. We positioned two rim lights to help him pop off the back ground with nice highlights. We lit the flag with at 20degree grid spot. We light the background with two lights to give it a nice even white, and then turned them off to go grey. We also needed a little bit of fill light, so we added a reflector.
Since everything was planned out and diagramed, we were able to get the shots in the time allotted.
Moral of the story: plan your shoots beforehand, especially if you know you will have a limited time window. Showing up early is always a good idea, as well.
Tweet A few months back I had a shoot in Eastern Kentucky. I had a long day of shooting booked throughout Eastern Kentucky. I made stops in 4 different towns that day to shoot. Each shoot only lasted about 30min and then I would have about 30min to 1hr drive time to my next location. So I had plenty of time between shoots to roam around these small Eastern Kentucky towns. I found some amazing textures in the historic parts of these small towns. Above are two of the frames I took. The first is just a wacky sign that had amazingly vivid color. The second I was walking though the town and heard the faint sounds of a bluegrass band. I walked towards the sound and a bluegrass band was performing live on the town square. This second pictures sums up my trip.
My buddy and mentor Michael Gomez is starting a new website for photographers. The website is www.thephotofactor.com. The website is going to be an amazing resouce for Nashville's photographic community. Check out the site The Photo Factor is going to be awesome. I will keep you updated as time goes by.
The first The Photo Factor workshop is October 17th and 18th. It will be an amazing workshop that is led by Michael Gomez. Michael is a master of light, and one of the best photographers that I know.
Tweet Awhile back Wes Aldridge (www.mindofthephotographer.blogspot.com) asked me to help him shoot a wedding. Generally I do not shoot weddings, but Wes told me that these are not your typical bride and groom that they were rock n' roll. So I decided to help out. Christ and Telisha had their wedding at the Cannery Ballroom, a rock club in Nashville, Tn. The resulting pictures above are pretty rockin.
Since shooting this wedding I have booked two more for this fall. I have decided that shooting a wedding can actually be cool.
TweetA few weeks back I was assisting Michael Gomez (www.gomezphotography.com) at Studio Daylight (www.visualreserve.com/studio). Michael was doing a shoot for a modeling agency and gave me the opportunity to shoot one of the models. I did a super simple set up with a grey backdrop and natural light. Simplicity is key to this photo.
After dating for three years Kati and I finally tied the knot on September 5th. It was truly one of the best days of my life.We had a small ceremony with our families and a few friends in Paxton, Il (near Kati's home town). The ceremony and reception were beautiful. The reception was very elegant. We had an amazing caterer LA Gourmet, who provided some of the best food that I have ever eaten at a wedding. Kati's mother surprised me with a red velvet armadillo cake with grey icing (right out of Steel Magnolias).
I got asked by many of the guest what it is like to pick a photographer when you are a photographer. The answer is simple you look for the same things in a photographer as anyone else. For a wedding you want a photographer that you get along well with and who has a photographic style that you love. You have to trust the photographer to take amazing pictures.
It is still kind of strange having your picture taken as a photographer. All sorts of things are running though your head. What aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash power are they using? Is that softbox placed to high? Does that pose look natural? You just have to let go and let the photographer taking the pictures take the wheel.
Tweet A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a trip down to Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN with a few friends. The trip was supposed to be a quick location scouting jaunt for a bridal session that I wanted to do. The trip turned into a mini photoshoot. The Carnton Plantation is an amazing location photographically and also historically. The history of the Carnton Plantation is very rich. The Plantation was one of the locations where The Battle of Franklin took place during the civil war. The Plantation was used as a field hospital.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a photographer that had previously been unknown to me. The photographer is Melanie Dunea. She came onto Nashville to work on a book project called "My Country" you can find out more details about the book on her blog www.melaniedunea.com/blog. She has been shooting some of the biggest names in country music for her book. I was asked by a friend to be one of the assistants on a shoot for the book. So yesterday I assisted Melanie Dunea on her shoot with fellow assistants David Johnson and Wes Aldridge. It was a great shoot. Melanie took pictures of two major country stars. The first shoot of the day was at a small town drive in just south of Nashville. The second shoot was at Lawrence Tubb Record Shop. Between the shoots we stopped off and had lunch at Arnolds Country Kitchen which is an amazing meat n three. Melanie is an amazing photographer. She has a great report with her subjects and really tries to understand them. She also works amazingly quickly.
To find out more about Melanie Dunea visit her website www.melaniedunea.com where you will find some absolutely amazing photography.
TweetOn August 12th the band Halo Stereo invited Wes Aldridge and myself down to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to photograph them recording. When we arrived at Muscle Shoals Sound we were all struck by the historic nature of the studio. In the studio you can sit where Duane Allman, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Joe Cockker, The Rolling Stones, JJ Cale, Lynyrd Skynard, and many more have recorded. Not only that you can see pictures of these amazing artist from their time in the studio.
Well just after you think you have had a massive history lesson on recording at Muscle Shoals Sound Noel Webster offers to take you out back to their wear house which is acting as a museum. In this museum you are bombarded with analogue recording history. Some of the worlds finest gear lives at Muscle Shoals Sound. When Noel gives you the tour you will be awestruck by the awesomeness of recording history. You can touch some of the gear and feel that it was built to last. The gear used in the hay day of recording featured military spec knobs and switches, point to point class A wiring, and heavy duty housings. When you look at the circuit boards you see a work of art that people poured their hearts and souls into. After our tour of the wear house Noel takes us back up front to show us one last goodie. He says this one is going to knock your socks off.
We get up to the entrance to the studio and Noel shows us the very first Ampex 8 track recorder. This is the very first ever 8 track recorder! The machine was designed by the very famous Les Paul. The recorder is a work of art. Not only is it a work of art it helped to make modern day multi track recording possible.
The next morning I wake up with a text from my fiance. The text reads that "Les Paul is dead". I mull those words over in my head for a few minutes before I say anything. Les Paul the man that invited the solid body electric guitar, multi track recording, tape delay, the phaser, and much more is dead at the age of 94. It was a sad day. It had even more impact because we were at Muscle Shoals Sound a bastion of analogue recording in todays digital world.
Noel Webster who runs the studio and is the engineer says to me at breakfast that we should take some pictures of the Ampex 8 Track Recorder on the day of Les Paul's death as a tribute. I think that is an amazing idea and get pretty stoked about it. Well the day runs on and it is a busy day of recording. At about 11:30pm Wes and I still have not taken any pictures of the 8 track recorder. Noel comes us to us to remind us. So we hurriedly pull some amazing photos off to honor Les Paul on the day of his death.
TweetThe above picture is of my retired racing greyhound Dory. Dory is now 6 years old and has been off the track for a little over a year. She is an amazing dog. She is quite the couch potato. To find out more about greyhound adoption in the Nashville, TN area check out GPA Nashville.
This picture was taken a little over a year ago. This was my very first picture taken with studio strobes.
Tweet This week was crazy. It was a big week for me as a photographer. I had a four day shoot with Plattform Advertising. I worked with one of their production crews in Nashville, Mufreesboro, and Clarksville this week. The shoots went great and it was awesome working with the crew. The picture above is one of the crew when we did the tourist thing around Nashville together some b-roll. The director of the shoot has a great blog post on his website www.michaelmackie.com. You can also check out Plattform's website at www.plattformad.com.
In addition to my busy week shooting I also ran into some technical difficulties. This week was the first time in the 5 years that I have been shooting digital that I have had a card corrupt. I have not just had one card corrupt but 3. All 3 cards had important photos for clients on them. I was able to recover all of the photos with out incident. It was still a big heart stopper. I am replacing 2 CF cards and 1 SD card this week in addition to a card reader. This should solve the problem. If not the 1DMKIII will be sent back to Canon to see what is wrong.
Between the last week and this coming week I have been swamped. Last week I retouched photos from a shoot I did for a hair stylist on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday morning I assisted a fellow photographer Eric Adkins in the morning. Wednesday afternoon I headed to Glasgow, Ky to do a photoshoot for Steve Newberry. Later on Wednesday I went down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama with Wes Aldridge to do a photoshoot for Halo Stereo at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where they were recording. Wes and I returned from Muscle Shoals early Friday morning. It was a busy week.
This coming week I have a four day shoot on location for a local college. Then on Friday and Saturday I am assisting for a local photographer. Sunday will bring a bridal session.
Hopefully sometime in all of this madness I will get to post some of the amazing photographs from this time span. Their are some really awesome photos that will be posted in the coming weeks!
TweetI was assisting Michael Gomez awhile back in the studio and we took a test shot. As it turns out the test shot was pretty amazing. It is my new headshot. So this is a big shout out to my buddy Michael Gomez. Michael is an amazing photographer and a mentor to me. Check out Michael's work at www.gomezphotography.com. Michael is a master of putting photos into new backgrounds.
TweetI finished up retouching one of my pictures from my session with Halo Stereo. Tonight Wes Aldridge and myself will be meeting with the band again to show them the pictures. I went ahead and printed this one off to the band to give them as a gift. If you have not already you should check out their website http://www.myspace.com/halostereo. The band makes some great music.
TweetThe other day Whit Aldridge came into the studio to hang out. Whit is Wes Aldrige's brother. I had him stand in for a test shot before I shot Kristen Kukta. This is a natural light portrait. At Studio Daylight natural light pours through the windows all day. This portrait is a great example of how simple a good portrait can be.
Kristen Kukta is a great country singer based out of Nashville, Tn. I had the pleasure of shooting her the other day during a test session with fellow photographer Wes Aldridge. A big thanks to Wes for allowing me to shoot Kristen. To find out more about Kristen you can visit her myspace at http://www.myspace.com/kristenkukta.
TweetThanks to my friend Wes Aldridge I had the pleasure of shooting Jody Hicks of Halo Stereo. Also a big thanks goes out to Brian Carter at Red Light Management for making this testing session possible.
He bought his first camera at the age of 4. Since then, he has owned film cameras, digital SLRs and medium and large format cameras. Nick is currently freelancing as a commercial and editorial photographer in the Nashville, Tn.