So with summer now officially here and me being a white Englishman, the heat in the 100’s can be a real killer when working a 12 hour day, so I always take time out to refresh and rehydrate. It’s so important to do this, otherwise I’ll just keel over or stop concentrating. For the 12 hours I’m shooting, I really need to be thinking with a clear head, so among my gear will be a bottle of water, a towel and lots of aspirin. I always end up with a headache if I’m not careful. In the three years I’ve been here in San Antonio, this has been the hottest few weeks that I can remember.
I’m really trying to streamline my gear a bit more. Funny, sometimes I bump into my friends at a church and they’ll comment how they knew it was me from a distance as all they saw was a guy with three cameras around his neck. Anyway gear can get really heavy but I try and keep things simple. I carry two Nikon D700’s and one D3 with my fantastic and favorite lens, a Nikon 50 mm f 1.4 (before you ask all you crazy equipment people, no, it’s not the newest one), a 14-24mm f 2.8 zoom and my 70-210 f 2.8. By far, my favorite lens is my 50mm. The prime lens is great as it forces you into physically getting near and far from your subject and really makes you think when composing.
Many of the best photojournalists, including Henri Cartier-Bresson used one as standard. I carry all my gear around in Lowepro backpack-just brilliant and it distributes the gear nicely so it’s not difficult to carry. I don’t carry the bag when shooting, only to store on location. I’m trying to be quiet and discreet and NOT draw attention to myself.
I’ve always used macs and last month I updated my mac to a Mac Pro, along with four extra internal hard drives and a gorgeous Apple monitor. This thing rocks and really crunches my image uploads in half so I really feel like I can stay on top of things. The post production stage is paramount for me and I will only except the best results. Streamlining production with these computers is really wonderful for me, along with my little two year old and another on the way is all for me, very helpful. I use Adobe Lightroom for the majority of my work and use Photoshop every day for further image enhancements. I’m not one looking for perfection. I think that would be overkill and many photographers do look for that image perfection. My style is documentary so I want my images to look real, not fake or overly developed/over sharpened soft high contract images. My clients love the black and white images I produce and to me that’s what’s important. I changed my office around so my computers have their backs to the windows (as they should be) and brought in my old desk from the garage. Now the office space is split up with the pro side farthest away from the window and our personal computer on the other. Now, my wife and I finally have our own space along with my ever increasing book shelf!
I just finished re-reading James Nachtwey’s beautiful yet harrowing book “Inferno’. There is not enough words here to describe the book and I’m not a great writer, but if you’re a photographer who’s looking for inspiration, then this is a very good buy or pick up a copy of the DVD bio done about ten years ago. There’s a beauty and simplicity in his images with wonderful composition using lines and shadows that just makes you look and want to look further. Suffice to say, subconsciously Bresson and other photographers have a lasting impression as I shoot. I’m a work in progress and always will be. I have the World Press Photo 2009 book on it’s way and another Henri Cartier Bresson book coming so I’m really looking forward to that.