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Gear & Apps

How Much Gear Does It Really Take For A Photographer To Get The Job Done?

By Hanssie on June 26th 2015

Photographers tend to have an obsession with gear. We love going to trade shows to see new gear, touch new gear and, of course, buy new gear. We are curious about everyone’s gear and we like taking peeks into what gear other photographers are carrying in their bags. Perhaps we are trying to compare what they have with what we have. Maybe we are curious as to what other photographers use to create magic or possibly it’s so we can feed our insatiable need to acquire more gear.

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[REWIND: SHOTKIT: SEE WHAT ESSENTIAL GEAR THE PROS USE]

But how much gear does it really take to get the job done? I scoured the new Shotkit ebook and looked through the bags of some of my favorite photographers to investigate. If you are not familiar with Shotkit, it’s a site where photographers can share what can be found in their camera bags, as well as share their work. You can also submit your own kit in the hopes of being featured on the site. It’s fascinating to take a peek at various photographers in different genres and compare their kits with my own. Shotkit has just released a new ebook with over 30 of the world’s best photographers who opened up their camera bags so that we can drool over the gear they use to create their stunning images.

Now, I’m a minimalist; I hate carrying a bunch of stuff and for most of my photography career, I’ve gotten by on three lenses, two camera bodies and two flashes to shoot weddings. So taking a look at the opposite end of the spectrum while flipping through the book, I found the kit of commercial/architectural photographer, Antonio Cuellar.

Antonio Cuellar

Antonio photographs hotels around the world and carries enough gear to keep my chiropractor employed for life. Take a look:

As you can see, rows and rows of lighting include seven Bowens Gemini 750Pro strobesGemini Monolights, speedlights, eight Lowel DP (tungsten) continuous lighting heads and more. For his camera bodies, he uses two Hasselblad H4D 60’s and two Canon 1Dx mk III’s.   You can read the full list of everything in his bag listed here.

Ryan Schude

Another photographer that had a lot of stuff in his camera bag, though not necessarily all camera related gear, is Ryan Schude. Ryan is an advertising, fine art and editorial photographer based out of Los Angeles. In his bag you’ll find not only a Canon body and a couple of lenses but other essentials items such as, “smoke bombs, sparklers, canned smoke, road flares, cinefoil, gels, tape, light meter, sketchbook, super clamps, j-hooks, sunscreen, sunglasses, go-pro, various props and seamless paper.” You can see what some of this stuff is used for here.

Emin Kuliyev

Speaking of interesting items in a camera bag, wedding photographer Emin Kuliyev, carries an assortment of flashlights and prisms alongside his Nikon D3s, Nikon D4, Nikon D800E, Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D converted to Infrared, Sony NEX 5N with Canon tilt adapter and a wide assortment of Canon and Sigma lenses, Lensbaby’s and manual lenses. Emin says, “For me lenses are like brushes for a painter. Depending on my mood and situation, I will shoot on manual focus with a Trioplan 100mm f/2.8 or on a Nikon 58mm f/1.4.” You can see his complete list here.

Jay Cassario

Perhaps the award for the most diverse camera bag belongs to our own writer, Jay Cassario, who has not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different systems, five if you count the Mamiya RZ67.  (Nikon Df, Nikon D750, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D Mark II, Leica M9, Sony A7II). As Jay explains, “Bottom line, I’ve yet to find a system that is perfect and fits all my needs,” so he uses them all. See his army of cameras and lenses in his post on Shotkit.

Phil Moore

When you’re traveling the world in the midst of crises and conflicts, you don’t have the luxury of carrying a lot of gear. In photojournalist Phil Moore’s bag, you’ll find two Nikon D3S bodies, one with a Nikon 35mm ƒ/2 lens, the other with a Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4. He also carries a Fuji X100. The rest as you see in the photo below are must-haves for a travel photographer: sunglasses, Moleskine notebook, passport, cash, etc. To see the entire list of what Phil needs and why, check out his post.

As you can see, the answer to the initial question, how much gear does it take for a photographer to get the job done, depends on the photographer and what their preferences and genres are. You might think that some photographers have too much equipment (Is there such thing??!), or some have too little, whichever you prefer, the best camera (and gear) is the one you have with you, right?

Exclusive SLR Offer

Shotkit’s new ebook also comes with 3 bonus videos with tips and tricks to help you become a better photographer and grow your business. You’ll get tips and tricks from successful photographers as well as get a peek into the camera bags and lives of some really great photographers. The book is $15, and the first 5 SLR Loungers can get it for free by entering the code: shotkit_slrlounge_vip. After that from now until June 30th, everyone can get 20% off, making it only $12.

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Check out some more kits from your favorite photographers on Shotkit as well as the brand new, first edition Shotkit book, available here.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Antonio Cuellar

    Very interesting comments about my gear. It is pretty clear that I love gear. However the reason why I both the Canon and Hasselblad systems is because I travel to places where I am not to comfortable shooting exteriors with expensive Hasselblad system so I use the canon system. Plus the high iso availability on the canon.
    So why twice as many or two of everything? I specialize in Hotels and Architecture. Buildings look beautiful at dusk. So i like to set up for at least 2 dusk shots per day. There is only a 15 minute window in which dusk shots are taken and lit and this way I can double the amount of dusk shots I can deliver to a client.

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  2. DeOren Robinson

    Is there one or someone who uses enough gear to be considered minimalistic? I’m stuck wondering about the price of it all.

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  3. Tosh Cuellar

    great article, cool to see into the lives/bags of other photogs

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  4. Mark C

    Thanks for the feature Hanssie!

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  5. Ralph Hightower

    I have 3 bags. The Lowepro Magnum 35 was my first for the Canon A-1, motor drive, 3 lenses (50, 80-205, and 400). A Canon bag was part of the kit for my 5D. I repurposed a SubZero lunch bag to carry the A-1 or F-1N (or both) or perhaps, the 5D.

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  6. Dustin Baugh

    Actually for photographing hotels I’m not that surprised by all that lighting gear. If you look at high end hotel ads it’s usually a twilight shot with high powered lighting shining in “all the right places” I just never guessed the photographer was hauling it all in themselves for the shoot.
    It reminds me of a video on fstoppers where shooting a room one guy went around with a remote triggered speed light lighting up various areas of the room then layering the 10-20 images. Looks like Antonio Cuellar likes to do the same to an entire building and all in one shot.

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  7. Graham Curran

    Love the out-of-the-box manufacturers straps.

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  8. William Emmett

    May as carry everything, that’s why you bought that pack horse.

    WE

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  9. Peter Hagström

    I have to change my shirt… #drool

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  10. Doug Davis

    Overkill I think but I haven’t used any of this so I just don’t understand lol

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  11. Stephen Jennings

    I am really not understanding the need for so many bodies. Why would anyone need 3 d4s’s 2 750’s 2 d810’s 2 d800’s in one kit? I get lenses, been guilty of that, but all these bodies?

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  12. Tom Johnson

    Wow! That first ones a little much. im sure the guy justifies every piece of gear there however. Needed or not.

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  13. Kevin Nguyen

    After I read the-cure-for-gear-acquisition-syndrome:
    https://www.slrlounge.com/the-cure-for-gear-acquisition-syndrome/
    I added this note to my chalk board: “Kevin, you have too much gears – Working on stopping your G.A.S.”

    After viewing this post, I just erased my note :). Have a wonderful Friday evening and safe weekend Folks!!!

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    • Chuck Eggen

      I know what you mean Kevin. I like living in denial. My wife says I’m a camera gear hoarder.

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  14. Jay Trotter

    When you see a guy work with FIVE different systems you start to think that here’s a guy who has to have all the best gadgets. I mean seriously? You can’t make it happen with one or two systems?

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  15. Kim Farrelly

    That is the kind of book you leave lying around the house for your other half to notice.

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  16. Austin Swenson

    My jaw just about not the floor at that first setup, I mean what the holy crap… Then again, I’m sure he needs it and gets paid well for his skill.

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  17. Timothy Going

    This is cool. Nice to see what they are carrying. But holy moley….how many assistants does antonio have? If he carries all that by himself, I never want to meet that man in a dark alley….

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