Womanwise Gear

I normally do location portraits with just shy of 100 pounds of White Lightning, Manfrotto and Westcott lighting gear. The Womanwise opportunity was a chance to strip back to the essentials of a portrait session, putting as little between myself and the subject as possible while working with people on their turf and on their terms.

I hope, with the series, to capture something of the dignity of a wide variety of women working in Trinidad and Tobago and visiting here on some interesting mission or another.
The subjects are selected by an editorial process that is quite remote from me. I get a call and a phone number, sometimes just a text message with basic contact info. Briefs, where they exist, are often brusquely to the point.

The one mercy I have been able to extract is a little lead time to set up the photos, which gives me a chance to have a preliminary conversation with the subject and set up a meeting for the photos at a place that allows them to be comfortable and gives me a chance to do a little storytelling.
My gear is minimalist, particularly in comparison to the stuff I use on a commercial shoot, but it’s no less potent and sometimes can be more effective.

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II to Sandisk cards, and use 580 EX and 430 EX flashes from Canon triggered with a Canon STE2 wireless transmitter. All this stuff fits neatly into a small Kata shoulder bag. In another small tripod bag I carry two
Calumet umbrella shoe mount adapters (the best of these that I’ve seen, several don’t fit modern shoe mount flash units), a pair of Westcott 43 inch collapsible umbrellas (soft white and soft silver) that fold up like a lady’s umbrella and two Manfrotto nano stands, tiny but sturdy lightweight stands that rise to six feet.

The gear doesn’t look like much when I arrive for a photo session, but it opens up impressively and delivers studio quality light on location without worrying about electrical outlets. The STE2 transmitter calculates exposure at the instant of exposure, so I don’t even walk with a light meter anymore.

Credit where it’s due. Most of this lightweight equipment and remote triggering systems came to be as if from a blinding light in articles by David Hobby at
Strobist. If you’re keen to take control of the quality of the light you work with in your digital photography, it’s an excellent resource.
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