Over the years my posts on social media have warranted very amusing responses. I intend on elaborating on everything on and off camera in independent posts since I have finally jumped on the blogging bandwagon albeit too late, or maybe not, as they say its better late than never. Here it goes...
I have recently bought the Hasselblad H6D - 400c - a 400 megapixel camera at a whopping 31 lakh Rupees. I wish I could say that as who wouldn’t want this kind of a high end gizmo. Everyone would want it! But the question is - do you need it?
2 questions I get the most are about the equipment I use and my workflow. Let’s talk about my equipment first since somehow people have a feeling that great equipment makes great pictures. That’s tantamount to saying a great chef cook’s great food because of a great pan. In case of photography it’s not entirely wrong. It’s not entirely wrong but then you could have the best of the equipment and not know how to make the most of it at the same time have a not so fancy setup (like mine) and just make it look like you own the best lights and cameras in the world. Its all about what you do with it and how you harness the potential of what’s at hand. All the equipment I have is extremely dear to me as its been put together one piece at a time. I have burnt sweat and blood for whatever I own today and that in a way helps me realise its worth and make the most of it. Time for some technical spiel.
This sums up my equipment:- Elinchrom FRX 400 which I had purchased about 8 to 9 years back- Bowens Gemini 750 Pro- Bowens Explorer 1500 with a mono head- Godox WITSTRO AD 600B which I recently added and is probably my most used strobe for the sheer convenience that it lends- Canon 5DsR with a Canon 70mm - 200mm f2.8 - is my work horse with a Canon 24mm - 70mm f2.8 which I sparingly use and a Lensbaby composer pro which I picked up in the US for a deal for those surreal shots. I have shot on the Hasselblad several times and also the PhaseOne whenever the situation has called for it but overall I am extremely satisfied with the equipment that I own and which I have no qualms about. My tryst with photography began in the film era (probably at the cusp of the digital era right on the horizon) and I still have that camera body of the Canon EOS88 followed by the Canon 10D - Canon 5D - Canon 5D Mark 2 and a Mamiya 645 PRO TL - Canon 5DsR. Such has been the evolution. Convenience being the name of the game I remember my first digital camera was the Canon 10D which was a 6 mega pixel camera and people would shriek saying "6 MP!!! What would you need so much for? I have used Elinchrom all my shooting life and realised that it’s a great versatile and portable system giving you a bang for your buck. I added the Bowens later on purely being lured into a deal (yes, somehow I get deals all the time, be it camera equipment or be it food) and I said why not? After all one should up the ante. 90% of my shoots happen on 1 or at the most 2 lights as I’m a big fan of minimalism, be it my work or my home or anything personal. I believe less is more and every photographer/artist needs to know when to stop - decide how much is enough. Some people who send me their work proudly boast of using half a dozen lights and what I see is a badly lit photograph with each of those lights going ballistic and rampant all over the subject. This brings me the most important piece of equipment every photographer should have - cutters and reflectors – very underrated. We have white Styrofoam (thermocol) sheets to fill in light and we have black Styrofoam sheets to cut light. Cutting light is about as important as filling light and using these will change your world.
I remember my first shoot that I had done for a commercial jewellery client where I had shot about 20 pieces of jewellery and I didn’t have a single light at the time. Like I said those were the days of film and digital was nowhere on the horizon. I shot this on the open terrace of my building where I hired 4 people at 50 bucks each to hold up a white bed sheet over a table to diffuse sunlight. I had strategically used fills and cuts around the jewellery to make it pop. The client was thrilled and happily paid me my from which I purchased my first light - the Prolinchrome 300N which I still own, till date.
So do an inventory check, figure out what all you need and what all you already have and make the most of it before you take a loan or ask money from your parents to invest into lighting and photography equipment which you probably won’t know how to get the best from. All the light you need is already there – learn to observe!