I am a portrait photographer in Charlotte, NC. I mainly do photo shoots for engagements, high school seniors, families, toddlers, etc. I carry a “book bag” style camera bag and try to travel fairly light when I am out in the field. In regards to photography gear, I would probably describe myself as “middle of the road”. In other words, I do not have the most equipment. But when I do purchase new gear, I try to research it and make an informed decision in order to get the best equipment for my price point. For reference, I shoot with a Nikon D700.
- Nikon Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
- Nikon Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S
- Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G AF-S
In regards to lenses, I carry three main lenses. My primary and most used lens is the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G Lens. By far, this is the best lens that I own! The “nifty fifty” is not only a sharp (prime) lens, but also can isolate the subject and create a nice “bokeh” for portrait photographs. For any photographer, this lens would be my first recommendation hands down!
For an overall telephoto lens, I choose the Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S lens. In regards to versatility and being an overall “travel” lens, you cannot beat this one! I must admit that I compared this lens with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II Nikkor. But, I felt like the Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S lens offered a lot of the same qualities with less expense!
Lastly, I became interested in an 85-mm prime lens for close-up shots in portrait photography. I dreamed about the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G IF AF-S Nikkor Lens for the “buttery bokeh” effect and tremendous results. But, the price tag was too steep! I purchased the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR lens as a compromise. I cannot be happier with my decision! I got similar bokeh effects and subject isolation with about a third of the cost!
In the end, my recommendation to any photographer would be to get a good 50 mm lens first. Then, try to get an everyday, telephoto lens. After that, you need to purchase lenses according to your photography needs!
At this stage in my photography career, I now own three external flashes. In regards to external flashes, I started my photography with a single Nikon SB-600. Even though it is somewhat outdated, I now use it mainly as a secondary, off-camera flash unit. Once I progressed in my photography, I knew I needed a better flash that served as a “main” flash. So, I purchased a Nikon SB-910. I would recommend this flash for anyone looking for a “main” flash or a “go to” flash unit! Once I progressed further in off-camera flash, I purchased an additional Nikon SB-600. So, I use the SB-910 as my main flash unit and the SB-600’s as secondary units. If I had to offer advice to any photographer, I would purchase the best flash unit available (made by the same manufacturer as my camera) for my primary flash unit. Then, I would supplement off-camera techniques with less expensive flashes from my camera manufacturer. I prefer Nikon flashes because I like having the option of using Commander mode.
To trigger my external flashes, I use the CowboyStudio NPT-04 4 channel wireless trigger and receivers. I know there are more expensive options, but I wanted an inexpensive solution for triggering my flashes remotely. I also carry a few light modifiers in my bag. The Lastolite LL LS2420S Ezybox Speed-Lite softbox fits right on top of an external flash unit and enhances the quality of light output. When I want to backlight a subject, I use Opteka OSG14 1/4-Inch Universal Honeycomb Speed Grid for external flashes. And finally, I travel with a Polaoird Universal Snoot Diffuser in order to direct the flash output on a confined area and the HonlPhoto Speed Gobo Flag/Barndoor/Bounce Card when I am concerned about flash output spilling over into the background of a scene.
Tommy Holt Photography – Charlotte Portrait Photographer (Charlotte, NC)