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GO SOCIAL AND CARRY – ON

Studio photographers for the most part are accustomed to working under the confines of a controlled environment, which usually is their personal studio, or a specific designated location. Most lighting equipment, modifiers, and camera accessories are just a grasp away. In my personal case, working as a commercial and celebrity portraitist, I will photograph seventy percent in my studio and thirty percent on location. My location studio sessions will normally consist of shooting at the celebrity’s personal home. I also travel often to teach workshops at some of the big industry conferences, as well as Colombia and Mexico.

The times I do leave my studio, I find it challenging in ascertaining a full-proof system that will assure I have every single item I need in place. This is when I started to really consider looking for a carry-on case that would help keep my important components for shooting in place. Being in this industry for a moment allows you to work with many of the top manufacturers in the world. I’ve tried several carrying cases, and for the most part, each bag had maybe one or two good features, but fell short as a whole. Keep in mind though, that the needs of a landscape photographer might be completely different than mind. I’m speaking from the platform of a portrait studio photographer.

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In short, after much research I decided to look into the Manfrotto Professional Bag Collection. I first came across them in New York, while teaching a Master Class at the Photo Plus Expo. I had to travel there from Los Angeles, and I was very concerned on how my expensive gear would hold up in the bag I currently possessed. The construction was just okay, but the compartments were poorly constructed. I looked and reviewed the highlight features from each bag, and though I could have used each one for a specific need, as an overall bag, which would be specific to my needs, I decided to order the Roller Bag 90. We are talking about My Life In a Bag!

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Before we get into the specifics of my “Social” assignment and my gear bag, I want to take a step back and share with you some personal thoughts.

My journey to becoming a professional photographer reminds me a lot of my past journey in becoming a professional cyclist. When I first started racing at the age of 13, and competing as a rookie, there was so much room for growth through just training, and simply just “putting in the time”. There is much value in the old adage, “practice makes perfect. Now as I climbed the ranks as a cyclist, the competition got tougher. Any little edge was constantly sought to give you any type of advantage.

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Now photography behaves in a very similar fashion. When you first start as an avid photographer, you simply just “put in the time” to get better. When you get to your third year of shooting, you are simply just better than your first year and so on. As you become a series amateur, you might consider schooling, online training videos, books, mentoring programs and many more options. Professionals must always remember where their  roots began, and never be idle or complacent in their development as photographers. Our industry is always evolving, and so should our style along with your skills.

Longevity in any career makes you better, but the closer you get to the top, the slower the gains. Any little added antidote will begin to separate you from the pack marginally. As trivial as a Roller Bag 90 may seem for a season professional, for the simple fact of allowing me to have all my professional gear at hand, it will definitely elevate my game, even if it’s for a marginal gain. In this “Case” though, the dividens are high, and in this particular social outing, it really did pay off.

I work with several agencies and entertainment managers. Most of the work I produce for the “talent” of these agencies are for publicity and advertising purposes. Athletes, musicians, actors and entertainers. The images are then used for web magazines, PR, posters and billboards.

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This specific social assignment was for Lynne H , CEO at VITY Network which included covering the inaugural VITY Concert Experience, as well as the location portraits. I specialize in portraits, so photographing social events, concerts and anything of this nature is something I rarely do. I do it as a service for the benefit of the overall relationship between certain clients. This is my fourth event and second concert throughout my whole career. I really do appreciate the photographers who specialize in this though. It is so stressful, with very little control. I thought photographing Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield was stressful until I photographed a wedding. Oh no – Thank You!

CARRY – ON

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Here is where the fun begins. I chose this bag for many reasons, but what worked the best for me was the solid padding and precise compartments to hold my lenses and camera bodies securely in place.

Packing my bags for this event I found to be slightly different than packing for a location shoot. This was much more specific to extra supplemental portable lighting. This was the breakdown:

BODIES: 1 Canon 1DX, 1 Nikon D800;

LENSES: All my lenses are Tamron – (70-200VC F/2.8), (24-70 SP F/2.8), (90mm F/2.8 macro), (SP 15-30 F/2.8 VS Wide)

2 Portable Canon Speedlites 580EX
2 Portable Nikon SB – 700 Speedlites
4 Pocket Wizards Plus III
10 SanDisk – 50 Gigs total
DataColor Spyder CHECKR White Balance Gray Card
Rosco Opal Diffusion for flash units
IPad Mini
Sync Cords, Rubber Bands, 24 AA Batteries, Business Cards

I use both Canon and Nikon. They both are good for different reasons. I like the low light capacity and the Low –Noise results I get from the Nikon, and I prefer the Canon on for my portraits. They both excel.

Social involvement makes you better. Getting outside the studio, expanding your skills outside of your comfort zone, and simply packing your bags will push any portrait photographer to push his/her boundaries and helps add another dimension to your work.

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In the end, it really comes down to our personal style and vision. We all see things in a specific dimension and perspective. This includes style, composition, camera angle choices, which in turn expresses our own narrative to anything we shoot. I have my personal style for my studio work, and now that I had a chance to shoot some notable Hip-Hop artists’, I added my signature style to this body of work.

In mindset, when all was said and done, including ordering my bag, finding placement for my gear and using it on location I now had a reference point of judgment. Days later, while having my cup of coffee in my studio, I was able to revisit my experience. Manfrotto’s Slogan really resonated in my mind. Imagine More. The bag for as simple as it may have seemed, took me out of my comfort zone with such a pleasant and secure ease. My equipment was one last thing I had to think about, which allowed me to expand creatively for the task. It really did allow me to Imagine More.

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I can’t wait to share with you my next assignment.

Hernan Rodriguez

Recently named Tamron Image Master, Westcott Top Elite Pro, DataColor Visionary, and Moab Image Master, Hernan has garnered over 30 international photography awards, including a prestigious Black and White Spider Award in the fashion category, as well as a Photography Masters Cup. Hernan specializes in celebrity portraiture, where he has photographed Luminaries such as World champions, Evander Holyfield, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Gipsy Kings, Actor/Comedian Eddie Griffin and Singer/Songwriter, Nelly. Hernan has also been featured in Studio Photography, PDN, Rangefinder, and PhotoShop User.

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