When doing a scheduled shoot…

I tend to take a lot more gear with me to get the job done. I will try as hard as I can to downsize as light as I can, but sometimes it’s difficult because I don’t always know where I’ll end up or what the light condition will be like in the location chosen to shoot. Here’s an idea of what I tend to bring to scheduled shoots.

Two DSLR Camera Bodies.

Not just one, but two. Both will have two memory card slots and be set in backup mode. It’s important to have your camera in backup mode if you have multiple slots because you never know when disaster can strike during, or after the shoot. Luckily I learned that lesson before I actually started doing paid shoots when I had a card reader go haywire during a transfer and delete everything on the SD card. Also, though I will always prefer using the D810 on shoots now, I need a backup body capable of good image quality in case something goes wrong with the main one. That way the shoot can continue if any problems happen.


While I use either a general purpose prime (something between 35mm and 50mm) or a versatile zoom (28-105mm) for walking around cons, I tend to work with primes during my shoots. The reason for this is that primes will make you move around and think about shots more as well as the fact that they tend to be sharper and allow me to shoot with wider apertures. Here are my favorites:

  1. Nikon AF 135mm f/2D DC – This is my favorite prime for portraits because it’s very sharp, but also has amazing bokeh and the ability to control it more with the DC ring. This is a unique lens along with it’s little brother (105mm f/2 DC) and a lens I’ll probably never give up.
  2. Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G – While 28mm isn’t a standard length for portraits, I use this fairly often for angles where I’m shooting with the camera a bit higher than the subject. It creates a viewpoint that isn’t seen often and I like the results.
  3. Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G – My third option is the 50mm. It’s a fairly standard option and lets me get a bit closer without the distortion of the 28mm.

Being that I have two bodies I find it a lot easier to put one lens on one camera and another on the second. This allows quicker shooting without switching lenses all the time and works well if you have multiple flash transmitters.


Lighting can differ depending on the time of the day and the location of the shoot. Here are the options.

  1. Speedlights – This is really my only option when trying to light a subject outdoors against ambient light. Speedlights are very lightweight and portable but don’t output as much light as a studio strobe. I don’t own any studio strobes unfortunately but I honestly wouldn’t want to lug one around a convention if I did anyway.
  2. LED Panels – I’m moving towards LED panels for indoor shoots because they’re very lightweight and output continuous light that lets you see your results in real time. They lack the power of a speedlight but they’re a great light source for areas that have less ambient light.
  3. Reflectors – These are a great option indoors or outdoors for a fill light. I don’t really like using them as a key light source but they can be handy for filling in shadows.
  4. Sunlight – I’m far more likely to use the sun as a rim light and fill with a speedlight.

Lighting Modifiers.

  1. Westcott Rapidbox – This is my favorite modifier because it’s a softbox and a beauty dish in one. It also has the setup speed of an umbrella without as much light loss as a shoot through umbrella.
  2. Softbox – Very nice directional light but a pain to set up. Can also double as a fairly wide directional light control.
  3. Umbrella – Best to have a semi-translucent one that can either be shot through, or used in combination with a black backing for versatility. Shooting through umbrellas creates a large, soft lighting source but you lose a lot of focused, directional light and generally I find that it’s no good outdoors because of that. Used as a bounce umbrella there’s less light loss but I’d still use a softbox over it since they are more directional outdoors. Indoors, umbrellas are super easy to create soft light with.
  4. Gels – Great for correcting the color temperature of a speedlight or softbox to match the ambient light.
  5. Snoot / Grid – I use the Rogue Flashgrid for this. If I want more of a spotlight effect from a speedlight I’ll attach it.  It’s very useful for rim lighting.

Generally I don’t bring all of the lighting and modifier options at once. I tend to use the Rapidbox outdoors now because it’s easy to set up and works a lot like a softbox, or a beauty dish depending on if the reflecting dish is attached. Indoors, I’ll either still use the Rapidbox or I’ll use a shoot-through umbrella. Recently I tend to leave the softbox set up at home in the studio room since it’s bulky and slow in the field.

Light Stands.

I have a smaller, quick light stand that extends up 7 feet tall. I own a few bigger ones that I use a home but the smaller one is easiest to carry around a convention. Option 2 is a monopod which you can get attachments for to put light modifiers on and have someone hold it in position (assistants are awesome).


In order to trigger the flash wirelessly, I’m using Pixel King Triggers and Receivers. They work with Nikon TTL and have been pretty reliable, though it’s not as complete as PocketWizards are. I have two Transmitters and three receivers though I only have two speedlights right now. Once I get a third I’ll be ready to go with it immediately!


  • ColorChecker Passport – It has to come when shooting with multiple bodies to ensure consistent color and white balance.
  • ND / CPL Filter – Since flashes lose power when entering high speed sync and some bodies don’t even have high speed sync options, it’s a good idea to use CPL or ND filters in order to keep your shutter speed down to about 1/160 or 1/200 if you don’t want to stop down and lose your shallow depth of field and BOKEH.
  • Lots and lots of Ni-MH rechargeable AA batteries – I never have a lack of battery power for flashes / triggers.
  • Phone / Tablet – Useful for storing pose ideas / references for a shoot.

That’s a lot of stuff isn’t it? We photographers bring a lot of stuff to try to get the best possible photos so people come back to us for more! I hope this gives you readers an idea of the considerations we make when bringing equipment to shoots and shows you how much goes into shooting. ~rensuchan

My Convention Gear Part 2: Scheduled Shoot Mode | 2014 | Conventions, Photography | Comments (0)