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.