The Social Media Photographer's Shot Kit

So why are you here in my car with me? You're wondering. I'll tell you why. Because we are going tonight, to go and shoot a major league soccer game. Thought it might be fun for you to tag along.

 

The game is going to be the FC Dallas Club, which is the major league soccer team for, you guessed it, Dallas, and the New York Red Bulls. Should be a terrific game. And what we're gonna do here, what the agenda is, is we will get up to the stadium, I'm going to do a quick, what's in my bag type of a scenario. I'm really looking forward to this time we're gonna spend together, so you stay put, we'll be right back, and we'll dig through my bag a little bit.

 

Hey guys, I am outside of the FC Dallas stadium, the Toyota Stadium here. And to be quite honest, this is the day after the game. My plan originally, as you just saw on the intro video here, was for me to show up and then go on the field and walk y'all through some of the process of me getting ready to shoot and also to sit down and do what's in my bag. Well, I obviously did the shoot at the game but I did not plan for the fact that number one, frankly, I've got the attention span of a squirrel. So whenever I was sitting down and trying to get through my intro and get to the what's in my bag scenario, I kept on getting distracted by stuff.

 

Hey guys, so we are at the stadium now as you can see, I am... And actually the team is coming out on the field now. Also got with me a 33 millimeter lens. I'm sorry, not a 33, it's a 35 millimeter. I don't know what my situation was yesterday but I just couldn't get in the zone. So that's number one, number two, I realized quickly that obviously at a game like this in a stadium they're gonna be playing all kinds of music on the loud speakers to get the crowd going, to get people into the game. Well, I think there might be some copyright issues there. Well, a lot of the content, the majority of the content that we produce here is news and information commentary type stuff.

 

I'm not sure that me sitting down and showing you what's in my bag would qualify for that, and I'd rather err on the side of not getting myself in trouble, not getting the show in trouble. Just saying, you know what, we'll do the What's In My Bag later, come in do my job, get my shoot done and just take care of that. So, with that being the case, you've seen a little bit of video of what the atmosphere is or you're gonna see a little bit video of that, I'm not sure where I'm gonna put that in the edit yet. But yesterday's shoot was the shoot for FC Dallas, a major league soccer game. And this was an interesting one for me because in the past whenever I shoot pro sports, I've always had my Canon 7Ds and obviously a long lens like Maya 70-200 which I've been using for about five years now. And then I have a few other lenses that I take with me. Well, we're shooting on the Fuji X-T1, they just came out pretty recently with their 50-140 lens, it's a 2.8 lens throughout the entire focal range. I don't have that yet. So I was left with shooting this game on the Fuji X-T1. And my long reach lens is the 56 millimeter lens.

 

So this created a really interesting situation for me. But I will show you some of the images that I shot with this camera. And I was able to successfully crop some to give me a little bit more apparent focal range in the final images that I used on the site for the TV station.

 

So for the shoot here, the X-T1 was the main camera I used. And I had with me the Fuji X100T, clearly not a sports camera, but I got some interesting shots and I included those in the portfolio for the TV station. So that gave me a little bit different look even though all the settings for the film emulation are the same. And it allowed me to have the 23 millimeter available at all times around my shoulder. When I have the 56 on that camera, I could pick this up and I have a wider angle. To be honest, moving into the future, I've got the rest of the season to shoot with these guys plus I've got a couple of local colleges that I'm gonna be shooting sports with. And this camera is just not gonna cut it for that kind of stuff. I will use it for fashion, for music, but this will probably stay home.

 

I'm pretty sure I may end up getting myself a second X-T1 body along with a longer lens and that's what's gonna get me do the season here. But you will also see some of the images from this camera as well in the blog post. Other lenses that I brought with me, I did shoot a couple of shots here with the 14 millimeter and with the 35 millimeter lenses. I pretty much saved myself from using the 35 too much because I had the 23 millimeter on the X-T1. The challenge here with those though, is that the X-T1 in this situation, low light, lots of fast movement, just really couldn't keep up with the action. The 35 millimeter and the 14 millimeter, ironically, were much faster for me than the 56 millimeter on the X-T1. So when I was shooting I found that I was a lot more satisfied with the shots I was getting, even though they were wide angle, they weren't tight shots, with these lenses 'cause they would lock on the focus and stay on focus a lot faster for me. I've done some fiddling around with the camera to switch up on some of the way the camera focuses.

 

And so the next sports thing that I do, we're gonna see if that's gonna help me out. And I would assume that the next time I shoot sports I should have the 50-140 lens. And there's rumors... More than rumors, pretty much confirmed rumors, that there's gonna be a 90 millimeter prime which is which I'd really rather have. I'd rather find myself in a situation where I'm shooting with two X-T1s with, say, a 90 that I know is on the Fuji roadmap, has... Maybe have that 90 on there maybe a 35 on the other camera and use that to shoot the whole game. And speaking about those focal lengths, the 200s are nice to have, especially when you're working on something like a soccer field because the action gets so far away from you. But when I'm shooting indoor sports, like volleyball or basketball, you don't need that reach typically unless you're gonna get a shot right up in somebody's face.

 

So a 90 millimeter at a basketball game or a volleyball game is gonna be plenty for what I need. And even in those situations I've found that even with a 56 millimeter lens, that sometimes I'm too tight on my subjects and I need to physically back up a little bit to get the shot that I want. Other things in the bag that we're carrying with this... And I wanna clarify also with the what's in my bag situation here. This is what I shoot everything with. This setup... I don't particularly have a sports setup versus fashion versus music. This is what goes with me everywhere. So I've really narrowed down. And I wanna show you something that's interesting. I used to walk around with a Lowepro AW 300, this huge bag with two camera bodies in it, seven lenses, plus I had a camera with a lens on it on the outside, plus all kinds of garbage that I took with me that I just knew that I couldn't possibly survive without. Well, let me show you what I carry around today. This right here is what I carry around with me. This is a Domke Journalist bag, I might have that name wrong, it may not be the Journalist. But anyway, I'll correct it in the lower thirds or in the blog post if I'm incorrect on that. This not only has my two cameras and two additional lenses in it, plus my accessories, it's also carrying a keyboard and my iPad with me.

 

So that's quite a big change from what I used to shoot with. And what I got these video cameras set on is a Manfrotto monopod that has feet on the bottom of it that allows it to stand up and you'll see some movement probably in the camera here as I'm talking to you. Well, it's because it's a monopod, it's not a tripod. Next items in the bag, the Mophie Powerstation XL. This is a battery, if you can pair this to the battery in an iPhone or an iPad, this will give you eight times the charge out of a standard iPhone or iPad battery. I've got a second one of these that I take with me in case I'm gonna go on a multi-day shoot and I don't know what the situation is gonna be with electricity over two or three days, I'll have a couple of these with me.

 

And then for backing up I've got the Western Digital My Passport wireless hard drive. This I believe is a two terabyte, we'll say it's a two terabyte drive. I know it's at least two pair, but I don't think it's four. But I've got two of these guys with me, two. Now, the game last night what I would do is I would shoot the first half, now that for those of y'all not familiar with soccer. What you've got is you've got two 45-minute periods.

 

And the action does not stop, someone will be injured on the field and unless it is a broken bone or something, they keep playing. They don't stop unless someone calls a time out because an official does because someone is injured that badly on the field. You'll see a lot of times in soccer guys, who will injured, they'll fall down on the field and they'll lay there and roll around for a good two or three minutes before they get themselves back up and get themselves off the field or they continue to play. So it's 45 minutes of nonstop action. So you really can't do anything as far as backing stuff up during that time, but at halftime what I'll do is I'll pop the SD cards out of my cameras and pop 'em in here. And this will then automatically, without any intervention on my part at all, will back up those cards onto the hard drive for me so I know that I've got a second copy. I do not delete the stuff off the card, I pop the card off, put it away for safe keeping, pull out a fresh one, and then shoot the second half with both.

 

Again, in this scenario where I'm on a long, multi-day trip, then I'll have two of these with me. And that process is duplicated no matter what I'm doing. Usually I'll have an alarm set on the phone and, say, every four hours, every six hours, whatever I decide is appropriate for that shoot, alarm will go off and no matter what I'm doing I'll pop the card out, stick it in here to back it up. And then I'll pop that card out, put it in the other hard drive and back it up on the other hard drive as well. Just to make sure that we're safe. In the back of my bag I have got my iPad, this is a fourth generation iPad just before they came out with the Airs.

 

And its got a CDO case on it, this case flips backwards and folds up in the back and creates a stand for the iPad. The reason why this is fairly important is that if I'm out at a airport, in a hotel, or sitting in the middle of a soccer field, and I wanna write, I can set this on a flat surface and I pull out my Apple keyboard, my Bluetooth keyboard and I can sit here and type on this. It's much more efficient for me to type on a physical keyboard than to use the keyboard on the screen here. 90% of the time I'm not using a keyboard with the iPad, I'm just pulling stuff out, I'm doing graphics editing and stuff like that. So I'll load my pictures up into the iPad itself, the cameras are set to go ahead and automatically name the files in a convention that I want them to be named in, so I don't have to worry about that.

 

But then I do my editing which is all graphical work, I don't need a keyboard in those situations and then we upload directly from the iPad. Couple of other items that I have in here that are interesting, I'm gonna look at you here, these are interesting items. We'll pull them out a few at a time and just drop them in my car as I get rid of them.

 

Number one, I carry around with me some Altec Lansing sports headphones. I like these better than the Apple headphones. And typically whenever I'm out shooting, whether it's a game like this or whether it's a fashion show, typically music, I'm gonna pay attention to what's going on on stage and I'm gonna listen to the music as I'm shooting it. Other stuff usually I put music on in my headphones so I can kinda get inside myself and get more creative, music helps me do that. So the Altec Lansings are pretty important. 5-Hour Energy, just in case you need it on a long day's shoot. Aspirin and antacid. A, you never know what you're eating, when you're gonna eat. Antacid goes a long way. And typically with the aspirin, if I'm out on a soccer field like this and I'm running up and down the field, up and down the stairs, I'll take an aspirin right when the game is over, right before I leave, to minimize the amount of pain I feel the next day.

 

I think that's more of an old man thing than anything else. Blistex is important to keep the lips taken care of, they'll get dry before you know it. Charger for the iPad. A display port for a VGA to lightning bolt display port for when I do presentations. And then my SD card reader, lightning to SD card reader. Pretty cool. Again, very minimal stuff. This is stuff that I only need in very, very, very, you know... This is the stuff that I cannot live without and I've got it all into this small bag, again. This is a USB to thunderbolt reader, allows me to plug my camera into my phone if I want to transfer files directly to my phone and edit that way.

 

Other side of my bag here. Stuff that matters. SD cards. I've got a stupid amount of SD cards really. I've probably got, holy cow, probably two and half, three terabytes worth of SD cards there in 32 and 64 gig increments. A band-aid. One band-aid can make a day... That could be terrible if you get a blister and make it tolerable. Flashlight, a multi-tool, pencil, stylus. I've had this stylus for three years, I think I've used it twice. And an extra set of keys. I cannot tell you how many times I've locked my keys in the car when I'm on a shoot, so I've learned to carry an extra set of keys with me in my bag so keys are always with me. And there's a passport in there too. That probably needs to be renewed, now that I think about it.

 

That's it man, that's the bag. I've got a side bag over here, which I will open up here. I've got a couple of pouches on my side bag. This guy right here holds my Sennheiser wireless microphone setup that I"m using here to shoot this with. And then this bag has just a multitude of various USB, micro USB type of cables in it for miscellaneous stuff, chargers, whatnot.

 

So that's the bag. And again, this is the setup that I've evolved into after shooting now... Holy cow, I am so ridiculously old. For about, amateur for about 25 years, pro for about 10. And I've gone through all the kind of getting more gear than I need, or gear that I think that I can't live without, and it's nice to kind of evolve into a place where you can move from having these gargantuan cameras with gargantuan lenses on them and you can stop and really evaluate what your actual needs are and work in a mode that allows you to minimize your footprint. So A, it becomes more efficient for you... I can be so much more effective on the field running around with a small setup like this than back in the day when I carried that huge backpack, all those lenses, all the tripods. It's almost funny to think about how much time I spent sitting on the ground switching gear out as opposed to just walking in the gate, cameras in my hand with a small bag around my shoulder, and walking into the event and being ready to shoot right off the bat. It's a whole different world.

 

So I would encourage anyone who's watching to resist the temptation of being addicted to equipment and try to focus on limiting what you use. It'll help you develop a style. If you say, pick one or two cameras, and I would pick the exact same camera bodies, and start of with two lenses at first. I would say if you start with two at first and then move into, maybe if you are out on a shoot and there's something you desperately need that you don't have a lens for, then consider to get the next one. And that's where I'm at right now. I'm a point where I will probably never bring the X100T, certainly to a sporting event anymore, I'll move to just two of the identical bodies and probably three lenses. I'll get either the 50-140 or I'll just get that 90 prime and then I've got my wide angle which is a 14 or 35, I'll decide which one I wanna use that. And then the 56 millimeter you can't live without if you're a Fuji shooter. This is the cream of the crop of the lenses in the Fuji line. Anyhow, that's whats in my bag. Take a look at some of the photos I shot at the game here. And what am I gonna do next time? I have no earthly idea what I'm gonna do for the next video. I'll figure that out later. Thanks for watching and close, close scene.