Photography Gear - How much do you need? by Christian Webb

Airport-Security-V-20-Rolling-Camera-Bag-6-Christian Webb Photo

There have been tons of debate regarding real photographers vs “fauxtographers.”  The iphone and assorted other camera phone using people usually getting lumped into the latter category.   I’m not going to get into that debate.  All I’ll say is this:  I think an image is an image, regardless of how it’s made.  You either like it or you don’t.  An image either provokes an emotion and has an effect on you or, it doesn’t. i dont' necessarily think that what type of camera or what brand or how expensive it is matters.    Period.  With that out of the way,  I want to get into a gear discussion here.  A quick blog regarding what it is you’re using and how much importance is placed on that gear.

John Lennon said “Give me a tuba and get ya’ something out of it!” ( Not sure about the accuracy of that quote, but Jack Nicholson in the Departed quoted it and I figure hey,  it’ll work here too.)  Point being that you don’t need a $3,000 camera body with a $3,000 piece of glass attached to it to make great images.   A simple point and shoot will do the trick if you’ve got the desire to take pictures of any kind.    That said though,  if your goal is to be a photographer, a serious photographer and you take the craft series,  there comes a point where you need to invest in that craft and purchase the right gear.   What is “the right” gear?   It’s really relative yeah?  What’s right for one may not be right for someone else.   In essence,  you want the gear that’s going to serve YOUR purposes as a photographer and your needs.   Example:  If you’re setting out to do wedding photography, you may want a macro lens to get really close shots of the rings.    You might also need a super-fast lens to use in low light situations such as  inside the church where most often,  flash is not allowed.   Add to that,  if you plan to do a lot of low light photography in general,  you may want to invest in a camera body that’s capable of producing usable images at high isos. (Nikon d800, Canon 5dMkIII etc.)

Regarding lighting,  maybe you want to shoot mostly in studio.  Some strobes and a variety of light modifiers would be part of your set up.  You could start with just one lighting set up but, over time,  perhaps you’ll want to expand your creativity and allow for more options by having a 2, 3, 4 light setup and a good amount of modifiers.  Speaking of which,  how do you plan to trigger those strobes?  Going to need a set of Pocket Wizards or other system for triggering flash.  What about location stuff?  Going to need a decent speedlight to start using flash off camera and a bit more creatively.    Do you want to shoot landscape?  A good wide lens might help.  Some ND filters maybe.  How about a really solid tripod?

I can go on and on here but I think you get the gist.    It’s not about thinking that having some piece of gear or expensive equipment is going to make you a better photographer.  It’s about recognizing the limitations of not having the right gear for what YOU want to do.  Overall,   I think if any photographer wants to take themselves serious, be it for pleasure or profit,  they’ve got to invest in themselves and their gear over time.   Funny thing is,  most photographers with passion find themselves spending all their dough on gear anyway.  It’s like crack!  Taking yourself serious and wanting to get better at what you do sort of naturally leads you to wanting more gear anyway.  There's nothing wrong with that and it's part of the process.   If you're not investing in yourself, your equipment and business,  then you're truly not looking to be serious.

So long as you’re buying gear for the right reasons, it’s all good.  Just never feel the need to buy the latest, greatest new gadget, light, lens or camera simply because you think you have to have it to improve your photography.   Understand your work, your goals and evaluate what you have and what you need, then, invest accordingly and make your gear count!


On Location - Chasing the sun by Christian Webb

Janine LeishearHad a blast shooting at one of my favorite outdoor locations in the city.   We were down on the cobblestone streets of the meat packing district -Gansevoort St.  Great time, great people and an awesome crew.   Call time for the shoot was 11am for the first model and then the rest were arriving at 3pm!  Yikes!  I was trying to get everyone on location by 7am!  Got ruled out.   So of course, I had that brutal bright sun high in the sky to deal with.   Fortunately,  most of the day was spent in the shaded section of the street.  We were finishing up a few shots of Janine and I realized it was getting late and the sun was now at that lovely point in the sky,  setting in the west, casting a beautiful glow as it made it's way out.  Looking west down Gansevoort St,  the light was shooting right up the block and looked awesome.   I wanted to get Janine over there asap and do some shots.   My photo assistant Dave Mack began to break down gear and Janine went to change outfits.   We headed down street which quickly narrowed and was flanked by construction of all kinds on either side.  Watching the light, I yelled out for Janine to quickly get in the middle of street.  I did a quick test shot exposing for the ambient light and then had Dave get ready with a Nikon SB-800 to light Janine from front.  The first test shot (above) had me amped!  It was EXACTLY what I wanted- That gorgeous, golden rim light with her blonde hair.  As we're just about ready to get into it an fire off with the flash,  a car comes down the street and we all move out of the way.  We get ready to shoot again and another car comes.  Then another.  Within seconds it seems,  I lose the sun!  Huge clouds completely take away my light.   Bummer.   We waited a bit, thinking the sun would return but no such luck.  Lost it.  If only we had moved west sooner.  All good!  I loved this shot immediately,  even without Janine being lit from the front.   Below, is a shot when we lost the sun/rim light and just have the flash.  Not bad, but really wish we didn't lose that sun!    We've got a another shoot with Janine soon on the beach.   Will have plenty of use of that setting sun and golden hour of light. Janine Leishear-Christian Webb

Model: Janine Leishear

Photography Gear / Studio Equipment by Christian Webb

About a day after receiving some new gear from Paul Buff,  I had a shoot.  I mentioned posting up my review(s) on some of the new gear once I've had a chance to use it. Truth be told,  I'm not a type of person.  I'll render my opinion on what I think of the gear and how it's beneficial to me or not, but, to "review" per se' sort of makes me seem like one of those gear experts with an opinion that may make a difference to some.  In reality, I'm just a photographer and I love messing with gear and using whatever tools help me to achieve my goals.  Oh, and one more thing....I'm pretty damn lazy lately with the blogging thing so, don't have too much time to get into it all! Also,  I haven't yet figured out how to post a new post to a particular page. (Like this should be on my GEAR page.) Anyway, I'll figure it out eventually.  While on the gear thing though,  the image below is an "after hours" shot of some equipment in my studio.  Figured I'd share/list some of the collection of toys I've amassed thus far because I know some people like to know what other photographers are using.   It's always a work in progress yes?  

Studio gear-Christian Webb Photo


1.  Paul Buff Einstein 640 strobe with 22" white beauty dish.  2.  Bowen's large soft box  3. Studio tripod (Calumet)  4. 22" beauty dish grid and silver beauty dish (Calumet)  5. Silver/White reflector  6. Profoto Acute2 ring flash and Profoto Acute 2r 1200 power pack  7.  Sekonic L-358 light meter.  8. Paul Buff Vagabond Mini power pack.   9. Set of 4 Paul Buff honeycomb grids.  10. Paul Buff 7" silver reflector.  11.  Set of Bowen's Gemini GM 500r strobes.  12.  Set of 2 Pocket Wizard Plus II's (laying somewhere in there.)  13. Arri 300w Fresnel, Arri 650w Fresnel (on loan).  15.  Assorted umbrellas - Calumet 46"Silver , Wescott 7' Parabolic Silver,  Set of Bowen's 36" Silver/white umbrellas.  16. Lenses:  Nikon 70-200mm VR II, Nikon 50mm 1.8G, Nikon 85mm 1.4D,  Nikon 105mm 2.8 macro. Nikon 24-70mm 2.8G (not shown...because it's on camera!)   17. Camera(s)-  Nikon d800, Nikon d90.  18. 2 Nikon SB-800 speedlights.   19.  An assortment of C-stands, light stands, A clamps, gaffer tape, duct tape, miscellaneous cables, cords and wires.  20.  Background - Manfrotto Autopole set up and seamless.

There are some random things missing here, but, that's the basics really.   I use an assortment of memory cards and for batteries, I'm pretty partial these days to Eneloops.



Couple of other pics of gear- That one above there an iphone pic.


Paul C. Buff - Einstein-Christian Webb PhotoBuff Einstein 640 with grid.


Paul C. Buff Eintstein-Beauty Dish-Christian Webb Photo

Einstein with 22" beauty dish.

Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 WS- Paul Buff accessories by Christian Webb

Love getting new gear!  Coming in to find packages waiting for me.  The mad dash to open and unbox fresh new equipment/products!  These latest goodies  are from the fine collection of Paul Buff products.  And they came just in time for a scheduled shoot.   Reviews to come soon! Buff1Paul Buff assorted honeycomb grid set,  Einstein 640 flash unit,  7" standard reflector, Vagabond Mini  and 22" Paul Buff (white) beauty dish.

Photography Business Insurance - A must! by Christian Webb


I’ve come across a few photography blogs/web-sites that often post great advice for photographers who are just starting off or at least, just starting to get serious. Most of the advice spans from tech guidance, learning your camera, learning lighting, mastering a workflow, how to build a portfolio, how to get clients and how to organize the  “business” aspects of your career.  I’ve definitely seen advice on model release forms and permissions/copyright info and such.  However,  one thing I don’t see too much on is advice on business insurance.  So, on that note, I just wanted to post this quick blog on what I would consider one of the fundamentally important first steps to taking your business to the next level.

There are two main reasons why you would want/need business insurance as a photographer.  For one thing,  this is an expensive hobby/profession.  Equipment costs add up relatively quick and most of your major , bread and butter equipment usually runs  in the area of thousands of dollars:  Camera body, lenses, computer(s), hard drive(s), lighting, etc.  What if something happened to this equipment?  A fire, accidental damage of some kind,  theft etc.  Many photographers just starting out can’t afford the costs to just replace all of their equipment or even some of it at will.  I know what you’re thinking:  “My home insurance  or renters insurance covers that.”  Not so.  There are fine clauses to home owner’s and renter’s insurance that limit the liability on business related equipment.  Not to mention the obvious: What if you’re on location somewhere?  It’s business insurance that’ll cover you and….your business.  The second reason and certainly no less important is to have coverage in the awful event of a client being accidentally injured.  Eg: A beauty dish & light falling off a boom and landing on your model’s head! Ouch! Not good.  The legal consequences/liability could be a disaster!  UNLESS you’ve got business insurance!  Or, what if a client sues you for claiming they’re not happy with your work?  You need that insurance to protect yourself, your assets and your liability.

Now, I’m no insurance agent or anything, so, I am not going to get into the ins and outs of policies, what type and how they work and all.  Just KNOW that you should definitely look into getting some type of business insurance.   I did a Google search, made some calls  and finally picked an agency and policy that fit my needs.  I pay about $1,300 a year for my policy.  Some companies that handle business insurance per se’ don’t actually handle photographer’s insurance or production related insurance.  Be sure to do your research.

An awesome advantage to having photographer’s business insurance:  RENTALS!  Long time ago, before I owned my own decent collection of gear,  I wanted to rent a newer, high end camera and lens or two .  The rental costs weren’t too much BUT,  if you’re renting a $5,000 camera or whatever,  you’ve got to put down $5,000 or charge $5,000 to your credit card. (You get the money back once you return the equipment okay.)  Problem is,  many aspiring photographers aren’t running around with $5k-$10k plus available credit on their cards.  Even if only a temporary charge.  So, this is where your photographer’s insurance comes in handy.  Once you have a policy,  you’re able to rent equipment and use your insurance policy to cover the costs of the equipment.  God forbid anything should happen to the equipment you’re renting, your policy will cover it.  I had my own experience during Hurricane Sandy and all I can say is THANKFULLY , I had insurance!   Once you have a policy, you’ll need to set up the details with your local rental shop.  (basically have to have your insurance policy on file with them naming them as “loss payee.” )

Oh, and one more thing:  KEEP RECORDS!  It's a great idea and very necessary to keep receipts and records/documentation for everything you buy.   New camera bodies, lenses, speed lights,  light modifiers, studio equipment, etc., etc.   You're spending thousands of dollars investing in your business and need to keep records for a variety of reasons especially for your business insurance.

So, that’s it.   My advice of the day.   Cover yourself (cover your ass!), cover your equipment and cover your business!

Bad Wedding Photography- "Fauxtography!" by Christian Webb

Wedding Photography-Bad Wedding PhotographySo that's three times now that I've gotten a request to shoot someone's wedding.  The most recent came from a friend who has a friend that is getting married and needs a photographer.  The friend recommended me and shortly after, I got an email. Well, truth be told up front, I'm dying to shoot a wedding.  Would LOVE to be responsible for capturing images from such an important event in a couple's life.  I'd love to see if  wedding photography is for me.  Something I maybe want to get serious about. BUT I WON'T. I WILL NOT. "I DO" ....NOT!  While that temptation is there for me as a photographer,  as a professional,  I know better.   I think part of being professional is knowing what you can and can't do.  Or, shall I say, what you can do, and what you know you really, really can do well.  I know some will say "hey, you never know until you try!"  That's true, to a certain extent.  But,  do you REALLY want to TRY...and see how it goes on someone's magical day?  A once in a lifetime (well, supposed to be) event of utmost sentimental importance?  As decent as I think I am with a camera these days, and while I'm pretty sure I know I can capture some good portraits and general shots from the day, I'd be hard pressed to truly know the ins and outs of how to properly shoot a wedding and deliver a worthy photo package  to bride and groom.  My growing curiosity with shooting a wedding has led me to plenty of online sites of wedding photographers, their blogs and plenty of YouTube "How to's" regarding different aspects of covering a wedding.  If push came to shove, I guess, yes, I could try and pull it off and throw caution to the wind.  Truth be told though,  I'm not even sure how these few couples ended up wanting me to shoot their day. More than likely it was simply based on the referral of a friend of mine. The couple probably didn't have much of a budget and were looking for any type of photographer.  I could take the gig, take whatever money they've got and use the excuse that it's helping to build my portfolio and get experience.  But seriously, and my point with this blog, is to say that's NOT what being a photographer is about. That's definitely not what being professional is about. Out of the many genres of photography, a wedding has got to be up there with one of the most tasking and time consuming of assignments.  The preparation, the actual shoot and the post processing all combined require the commitment, patience and expertise of a lunatic! (So I've heard!)  I see many photographers out there advertising one way or another that they shoot EVERYTHING!  Fashion, portraiture, boudoir, lifestyle, commercial, families/babies...and yes, weddings!  Bad idea if you ask me!

Here's the deal: First, shooting some photos in a controlled environment is no where near as tasking as shooting a whole wedding.  Second, this is one of those times where yes, your GEAR/EQUIPMENT does matter.  Perhaps not brand wise or having the latest, most expensive camera, but just practically speaking as in WHAT gear you have.  Here's what I know from my own investigation into the matter:  To truly do a decent job you'd need the following - 2 camera bodies, at least 2-3 fast lenses, backup drives, memory cards, speed light(s), light modifiers of some type and a TON of other this & that items you can't possibly think you'll need in the spur of the moment. AND, most important, a ton of personality and patience.  At the end of the day, taking the time to assist a wedding photographer is the best bet and sure fire way to jump start your own career in the business.  Right now, that's actually what I'm looking to do. Get a few under my belt and then assess whether or not I can eventually go at it on my own.  All of that said, I'm not looking to discourage anyone.  That's not my thing. I'm just sharing my opinion and hopefully, guiding a few others who maybe didn't see it as so before.  I'm promoting that we all as photographers have one another's back and shed light on, give perspective on the business whenever needed. In the process, save an ambitious photographer from possibly ruining a couple's precious day as well as possibly ruining his or her own future as a photographer.  But, then again,  perhaps there are couples out there who actually like that look in the photo above! Bad composition and horrifying post processing. In this case that terribly hideous color selection work.  All relative I suppose!  What do you think?

Image above courtesy of: