What does it take to capture event photography?

I’m often asked what kind of equipment I use (or need) for photography. In this article I describe my typical kit for professional event photography.

I’m often asked what kind of gear I use (or need) for photography. Since there are many different types of photography, each of which will use different types of equipment, I decided to pull aside the typical complement of camera gear that I take to photograph a convention or business conference. But what does this mean to you if you’re a (potential) client? It means dependability.

Primary Equipment

Reliability and redundancy are critical to a professional photographer. I don’t want off-brand gear. I stick with the major brand names, which have proven their dependability. My camera brand of choice is Nikon, and I usually have the latest models in my inventory. I always carry not one but 2 camera bodies, currently both D850s. But after the theft of a camera bag a little over a year ago (just 12 hours before I was to board a plane for my biggest shoot of the year), I now go beyond that redundancy. I now have an entire other camera system with its own duplicates – built around my older D750 cameras.

In addition to the two camera bodies, my primary kit includes two of Nikon’s most popular zoom lenses along with a great performing wide angle lens from Tamron. I carry two flash units as well. My new primary on-camera flash is Profoto’s new A1, and I also have a Nikon Speedlight as a backup.

Supporting Equipment

So what other gear goes with these key pieces? Batteries. Lots and lots of batteries. And chargers for all of them. A full memory card case matched to each camera.

Can’t leave home without a color checker, but I’ve also invested in a top-of-the-line color meter. At a convention or conference I walk in to one room after another. And they do not all have the same type of lighting. So I like to be able to precisely measure the color of the lighting in that room and set my cameras to match. I can further improve this by adding gels to my flash to match, producing color-corrected images with a cohesive lighting balance. And of course that color meter, along with a light meter, ensure my stage shots are perfectly dialed in from the outset.

A dual camera strap allows me to carry both cameras, each with a different primary lens, so I’m ready for wide shots and closeups at all times.

Accessories

Did I leave anything out? Yes! The belt pouch system from Think Tank Photo allows me to keep some of the most critical accessories on me at all times, along with the very important yet often overlooked water bottle. All of these items fit inside a Think Tank Photo roller bag.

Optional Equipment

I also have a separate lighting case with 4 of the brand new Profoto B10 strobes. Those units are battery-powered so highly portable, and can be useful in large dark rooms. When called for, that case and a case of light stands will go along for the ride – probably on a roller cart.

Does this sound like a lot of equipment? To some, yes. But how important is it to know that you have everything you might need to get the job done, even if something breaks? To me, as a professional photographer, it’s critical. And that sets me apart.

The Power of Words

2014 is a new year, with untold new opportunities. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but do aspire to improve myself every year. I make a conscious effort to learn more, work more, perfect more, and contribute more every year. This year is no exception — I will strive to improve my photography skills, the images I produce, and the clients I help. I also intend to give back more. This past holiday season’s fundraising efforts were very rewarding to me personally, and I am looking for other ways in which I can improve the world around me.

This video came up in my Facebook news feed today, and inspired me. Although it looks way too staged, the message is very clear — and the idea is not lost on me. See what you think.

Perspective, and attitude — can change everything.

Happy Holidays from Morton Visuals

This holiday season is always hectic, as we struggle to find those “perfect” gifts for our loved ones. Often it’s easy to overlook the important things, and forget about giving the one thing that money can’t buy — our time. There’s not much that I can think of to ask for from my family or loved ones, so I fail miserably at making the infamous Christmas Wish List. But I DO know what I really want this year, and every year — some quality time with those I love, whether here in beautiful San Diego or back home. This year I won’t be able to make it back to NC for the holidays, so I’m sharing a little view of San Diego.

William Morton photographs the ice skating rink at the Hotel Del Coronado with a beautiful SoCal sunset
Happy Holidays from William Morton Visuals!

This image is one I’ve wanted for four years, and I finally got access to a vantage point to photograph it. This is the ice skating rink set up at the Hotel Del Coronado. Two images were captured, one to lighten the ice skating rink and one to darken the sky. They were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 and merged to HDR Pro in Photoshop, where the blend was refined and some spot image adjustments were added. Life is Southern California is pretty good! 🙂

Morton Visuals Photographs SAE Gentlemen

Morton Visuals had the opportunity to photograph the gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for their website and upcoming brochures. Creative Director Brandon Weghorst brought together SAEs from three San Diego universities for these images illustrating the diversity of the fraternity.

William Morton of Morton Visuals photographs the gentlemen of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the San Diego Photo District on 9/15/2013.
William Morton photographs SAE brothers from three San Diego universities for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

With the expected use including magazine, brochure and website, the plan was to photograph each man in a variety of full-length poses on a clean white background (to enable clean knockouts for compositing). Morton Visuals selected the San Diego Photo District for this job, due to it’s huge cove, ample space for a dozen or more portrait subjects, and ease of access. We needed to match images previously captured at a Chicago convention, which were tone-mapped for an HDR look. For this reason William decided to use a silver PLM 86″ umbrella for a punch of contrast, and then filled the shadow edge with a large white sheet of foamcore to control the contrast. Lighting was provided by Dynalite power packs and heads. Images were captured in Lightroom 5, with a large monitor rotated to vertical to show each capture full-screen.

Each man was talked through a variety of poses, each eschewing stiff formal poses and displaying a casual and happy personality. Each man lived up to the fraternity’s “Be True” ideal, and were indeed a gracious bunch. Thanks to the gentlemen of SAE!

Happy Memorial Day

San Francisco National Cemetery, the Presidio
The American flag flies over the final resting place of many real heroes.

As a Navy veteran and participant in the first Gulf War, holidays like today hold special significance for me. I value my time in the service of my country, and it is part of what made me the man I am today. On this day of barbeques,  beach and celebration, let us never forget those brave men and women who literally gave everything they had for our freedoms. To all of our nation’s armed forces, both past and present – and to those who support them – thank you for your service!

These two photographs were taken at the Presidio in San Francisco in 2009.

Online Image Theft Video

My friend and colleague Kevin Lock stumbled across this YouTube video recently and shared it with me. It’s a great analogy of online image theft, created by DontScrewUs.org. Check it out, and please feel free to share it with your friends if you like it!

William Morton and Corporate Convention Photographers cover the ABC Convention

William Morton and Corporate Convention Photographers photograph the ABC National Convention

William Morton and Corporate Convention Photographers (CCP) covered the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) convention in San Diego this past week.  This 60th anniversary celebration was held at the beautiful Hilton San Diego Bayfront, and spanned five days. CCP, led by partner Kevin Lock, covered awards banquets, the tradeshow floor, competitions, and a lively closing party. Below are a couple of examples of William’s images from the event.

Winner receives an award on stage
Award Winner

Sparks fly as a grinder gets to work
Grinding competition

Xerox – Let’s Say Thanks to our Service Members

Xerox will send a Thank You card to American service members if you take 10 seconds to select a card! Thank a soldier today!

If you appreciate those fellow Americans who serve our country, spending countless holidays away from friends and family, please take 10 seconds to look at this and let them know!

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