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When it comes to location shooting I've given insight into space and time requirements. In the third of my behind the scenes mini-series I want to take a look at equipment.

In a studio you have the luxury of having everything you need on hand: cameras, lenses, backdrops, lights, stands, accessible power points, more stands. The list goes on.

Shooting on location is a very different matter. You might have all the gear but it is neither desirable or practical to transport it on location. This stuff is bulky, awkward to carry and more often than not you won't have the space to use it all anyway.

So what's the solution?

The answer, as with so much in photography, is a bit of prior planning and compromise.

Using the right tools for the job

With corporate portraits on location I try to take only the tools that are strictly necessary, with maybe one or two optional extras as a contingency.

If this sounds limiting, it is intended to be.

But this is why it is so important that client and photographer are on the same page and know exactly what type of shot can be achieved before the bags are packed. If I know exactly where and when and in what room I will be shooting a portrait I will be confident in taking just the essential equipment to get the job done.

If all the headshots for that day are to be taken in the same style (which is almost always the case for corporate portraits) then I don't need to worry about bringing any extra equipment as the process won't require it.

What do I bring to location portraits?

When I talk about equipment, what exactly do I mean? For a typical corporate portrait session the following forms my essential kit:

  • Cameras: my workhorse and a backup (always!)

  • Lenses: I always use a 70-200mm for flexibility and an 85mm. I'll switch out the latter for something wider if shooting group portraits.

  • Lights: a pair of mains-powered strobes.

  • Diffusers: I carry a couple of softboxes but I am being tempted to replace them with octaboxes.

  • Backdrop and stand: my portable backdrop is a terrific, versatile product. However I have to confess that with sufficient space, a white wall can be just as effective. It might mean more work in post, but that's life. It's in my armoury but if I can avoid using it, I will.

  • Reflector: a single reflector which is often essential with a one-light setup.

  • Tape and clamps: for fixing stands, securing cables, and generally solving a lot of on-the-job problems.

It has taken years of trial and error but this is my bare essentials location kit. Of course there are occasions where I will mix it up and add more equipment.

As I often preach in my blog posts, planning is key. If you have very specific ideas about the required setup then let me know during our consultation. And a good rule of thumb to follow is if I don't have to get the tube then I can usually bring more!

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