The light and wildlife wait for no man. So my photography shooting model is: GO FAST, GO LIGHT, GO SIMPLE. These are not mind-blowing, advanced techniques. They are just simple protocols that I’ve found over the years to un-clutter and speed up my image-making process. Some of these things you’ll already know and some may be new to you. Some you may disagree with, it’s just what I have found works best for my style and temperament of shooting.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
GO FAST, GO LIGHT, GO SIMPLE— Experience tells me that the light and the wildlife wait for no one. The time during a photoshoot cannot be stopped. Either the light is changing (for better or worse), or the wildlife is moving… constantly. I must be ready to shoot when the subject is at the decisive moment. All my gear choices, and what I bring are based on that motto. Get the shot— FAST as I can! and as good as I can.
This video will tell you a few of my VERY basic guidelines & concepts I’ve used which allows me to do just that. To shoot FAST, LIGHT, and SIMPLE.
MY PERSONAL GUIDELINES
Don’t use front lens caps!
They are useless to me. Too much time is wasted trying to find them, no need for them. The lens really does not need that much protection.
Don’t use a UV or Skylight “protective” filter.
It’s just one more degrading optic in front of the lens. I’ve spent too much time unscrewing them when I want to use other filters or holders. And then can’t find the protective filter when I want it. The front element of the lens does not need that much protection. In my 40+ years as a professional, I’ve had dozens of lenses that I’ve treated like tools–poorly. In all that time only one front element had to be replaced because it was scratched too much.
Wear a photo vest.
When the action is happening, I want to be behind the camera — not looking for where I left my pack or bag for what is needed. In my vest, I have all the essentials. Filters, extra lenses, remote release, lens cloth, extra batteries, and more. I can shoot faster and better if all my equipment is on my body. See below under “Gear-Carrying Products” for my photo vest of choice.
The more equipment you have, the fewer photos you make.
This is a quote from a very famous and quite successful New York professional photographer, Jay Maisel. And, I concur, “It’s NOT the equipment that makes a photographer, it’s the creativity and drive they possess.” So, with that said, you can do great work with your phone camera. Don’t get caught up in what others have or what you think you may need. Master the “ART” of the photograph first— composition and timing.
I affix a sticker with my name and contact info on every piece of equipment I have. Batteries, rear lens caps, tripods, cameras, you name it. Too often I’ve left something behind or its intermixed with others on tour. MUCH easier to claim its mine with a sticker.
WHAT TO CHOOSE FOR YOUR ESSENTIALS KIT?
BE SURE you take into consideration just WHAT subjects you are more likely to photograph. The body is important, but the lenses put on that body are even more important. If cost is a factor, lean towards better glass/lenses before a great body.
Bear in mind that I am thinking about the overall objective of “Building my kit” with a specific set of lenses and bodies in mind for the long haul. And then purchasing them as I can afford or need them. What to know what I include in my Essentials Kit?
Be sure to download a copy of my ESSENTIALS KIT FOR WILDLIFE & NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY. The Essentials Kits includes the guidelines I have discussed above and covers what you should consider putting in your photo bag if you are looking to purchase your first camera and lens OR what to bring with you if you’re going on a trip and can only bring limited gear. I have suggestions and recommendations for my favorite pieces of gear and equipment that I include in my own bag. Click here to download.
Photographer & Photo Workshop Instructor
Official Photographer of Alaska’s Iditarod since 1982