by Dan Wright
originally published on Savage Universal Blog
Think Tank Airport Commuter
We can’t talk about what’s in my bag without talking about the bag itself. I actually carry two bags, and the first one that we’ll talk about is my camera bag. I am a huge Think Tank fan, and I like compact bags that are still large enough for me to store whatever I may need, so for me there was no other choice than the Airport Commuter. It’s small enough that if I wanted to carry it on a plane I could, but large enough that I can fit all of my gear inside very easily.
Creative Canvas Shop – Custom Duffle Bag
The 2nd bag is the one that holds my bigger and/or less fragile equipment. I custom ordered this 55-inch bag from Creative Canvas Shop because I travel on subways a lot and I needed a bag that could fit my backdrops and some other equipment.
Camera and Lenses:
Nikon d750 (x2)
You can’t be a photographer without a camera. I’ve been a Nikon guy since day 1 (nothing against canon though!), and in my spare time I’m a concert photographer, so excellent low light capabilities are a must for me, which is why I have a Nikon d750. I always carry two because I believe in being prepared for equipment failure (which luckily has never happened to me).
Sigma 85mm f/1.4
All of my pet photography is done with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4. The shallow depth of filled is an integral part of my style. The 85mm focal length is excellent for portraits because it doesn’t distort the facial features. That being said sometimes it is too long for NYC apartments (I shoot on-location in clients’ homes), which is why I also carry the…
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8
Luckily I haven’t shot in an apartment that doesn’t have enough space, but I carry the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 so that if I need to go wider than 85mm I have that capability. There are few things more unprofessional than showing up to a shoot and not being able to handle whatever situation you’re put in, so I bring whatever I think I may need.
Backdrops and Lighting:
I usually carry at least 2 backdrops with me. I’ve found that if I carry the Blue Jean Paper and Plum Paper backdrops that between the 2 of those at least one will be a perfect fit for the animal I’m photographing. This is because dogs aren’t blue or plum colored, so both backdrops will typically contrast quite nicely with the animal. I also have a few other colors in my arsenal that I use either to meet client needs (if they know that they’re going to hang a photo in a specific room and they need a specific color to look good there, I want to be able to accommodate) or for if I’m photographing a different type of animal that I think might look better on another color.
Savage Universal was amazing enough to send me their new 700 Watt LED Studio Light Kit. This setup is amazing! It came with two 350 watt dimmable LED studio lights, two umbrella sockets & 9’ power cords, two 33” translucent reflector umbrellas, two 6’ light stands, two removable blue/orange domes, a remote control, and a carry bag to put it all in.
Up until they sent me this setup to test out I had only ever used flash, but now I’m absolutely hooked on continuous light. These lights also have the bonus of coming with a remote control that allows you to dim or raise the lighting without moving. They are also very bright and provide me with more than enough light to illuminate my subjects and the backdrop.
RAVPower AC Portable Charger (x3)
These are basically portable outlets. The Savage Universal 700 Watt LED Studio Light Kit requires outlets to power on, but since I shoot on-location I’m never sure if I’ll be near an outlet until I get there, so I carry 3 of these to power the lights.
Bessey Steel Spring Clamp (x2) and generic duct tape
Now we’re getting into the smaller items. I carry two steel clamps and a roll of duct tape to make sure that my backdrop stays in the position that I put it in. When you’re photographing animals you never know what’s going to happen, and the last thing I want to worry about is my backdrop.
Extra SD cards (x8) and Extra batteries (x4)
As I mentioned earlier, I like to over prepare. I carry extra SD cards and batteries just in case of any equipment failure or I forget to charge the batteries in my camera.
Square Card Reader
Part of running a business is having people pay me. This card reader makes that really easy. It’s very small, and the app is very easy to use.
Photographing animals is unpredictable. It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen. To that end, the reason I use seamless paper instead of a fabric or some other option is because animals sometimes have accidents, and they often shed. So when I’m done with the photo shoot I will simply cut off the paper that I used and throw it away.
This may be one of the most useful items in my bag, as well as one of the cheapest. I bought a Lamb Chop dog toy and cut out the part that makes the squeaky noise. When I make the noise but the dog I’m photographing doesn’t know where the noise is coming from it confuses them and often will lead to a cute head tilt or their ears perking up.