You don’t realize how much “gear” you accumulate as a photographer until you put it all in a big pile on your kitchen table. That is exactly what I did with the gear that I use to create the images in my Light in Dark Places collection (and the number of items has grown, as you may notice after reading this earlier post.
I decided to do this mini-project for a few reasons; 1) because I was too worn out from my day job to do anything more creative, and more importantly, 2) to make a cheat sheet for myself. When I get an idea for a shoot, I need to act quickly, and time spent digging through drawers is lost time. I need to be able to visually scan my gear for certain shapes that I may use to construct my idea into something tangible.
Most of the items in the bottom two rows are lights, or stabilizing gear that I use to position the glass and plastic. My new favorite items are my Manfrotto autopoles (not shown), Super Clamps (one attached to the speedlight in the bottom-right corner), Flex Arm, and 2-section articulated arm. The Gorilla Pod and duct tape are invaluable as well.
I think this is a good exercise for any photographer, not just fine art or product photographers. You may realize that you have more tools than you thought, and new ideas come from the exercise. You may also find holes in your load-out that could hold you back in the future. Looking at my inventory, I think I have a good number of shapes to choose from… but that won’t prevent me from rummaging at the thrift store for new glass. I’m particularly eager to make use of the plastic rods, cubes and spheres that I recently picked up a local plastics shop, and this thumbnail sheet is a good reminder to get started!