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How Do Pro Photographers Light Their Photographs?

How Do Pro Photographers Light Their Photographs?

How Do Pro Photographers Light Their Photographs? 1

How does renowned portrait photographer Albert Watson light his photos? With a foolproof three-light setup that makes his photos look amazing, of course! Except… he doesn’t. In fact, setups are very far from what professional photographers do when they light their work. Here is what mindset photographers have when they light.

We all start in the same place: a YouTube video showing some amazing setups with just 1 light. When we watch a video showing a 4-light setup, we’re already feeling pro. And yes, for some photographers being able to do a four-light setup — a nice rim, fill, hair, and key light — is enough. These setups give a simple formula to use when lighting a scene.

Many photographers can create these light setups, but very few are professionals. So, how do pros light their photos? What setups do they use? How do they decide?

Setups Are a Myth

The first thing I want to emphasize is that setups don’t exist on a professional set. Never has anyone asked me to do a three-light setup, nor has anyone asked me to create great results with only one light.

Being able to do a classic portrait setup and have top clients is a thing of the past. Back in the 80s, you could impress someone with a clean white background, but now it’s not about that at all.

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Competition is fierce, and many photographers end up learning as many setups as possible so that they have a vast mental toolbox. This results in companies selling kits for “perfect portrait light” “perfect beauty light” “perfect fashion light”. What this creates is a set mentality that there is one right way to light fashion, a different one for beauty, and the third one for portraits.

The best analogy I can give is if you were told there is only one way to eat bread: plain with butter. You can’t make toast, add jam, or even make a sandwich.

I think it’s pretty clear that thinking in terms of setups is limiting. It’s not wrong, but it puts a label on something that is undefinable: perfect light.

So How Do Professionals Light Their Photos?

Before I go into how to learn the art of lighting, let me take you through a sort of step-by-step process that I’ve applied to light so far.

1. Black Frame

It all starts with a single frame. If I’m in the studio, I take a black frame to make sure there is no ambient light. On-location, I take a perfectly exposed frame. Although now I have an intuition about exposure, I still do it as a good habit. If anything, it lets me know I tethered in properly and that everything is working.

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2. Ambient Control

With the test frame complete, I introduce light. If studio ambient light is desirable, I may increase ISO or perhaps lower the shutter speed. Generally, I don’t touch aperture too much as I like to have a wide plane of focus around f/11. On-location, I will play with the settings to get a good amount of ambient light.

3. Introducing Artificial Light

Again, this all starts with a single light. If you want to be a purist, you can start with a light directly in front of the subject. Setting the power, and then seeing what that light makes is the next step. Some questions to ask yourself at this moment are:

  1. Is the light too hard?
  2. Is the falloff too dramatic?
  3. Is the light coming from the right direction?
  4. What do I want to show/say with this picture?
  5. What aesthetic do I want?
  6. Anything else?

Answers to these questions will form a base for what you want to do next. This may include adding a modifier, moving the light further, or perhaps even adding additional lights.

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A good way to think about this step is to take on the mindset of a painter. Each light is a brush that adds dimension to the image. You should be careful about what you add and don’t to each picture.

Remember that with every light comes a great deal of responsibility to control it — don’t forget about things like flags, scrims, or butterflies. Those will help you sculpt the end result and come up with a unique image that is yours. Truly yours.

The end of this process should yield a light that looks good to you. Determining what looks good and what doesn’t comes from being deeply caring and passionate about the subject. While I don’t want to sound like a loosey-goosey artistic type, good light just clicks with the subject like a puzzle that fits perfectly.

Deep care for the subject enables you to understand what light fits correctly. If you photograph 1950s cars, you may want to show the chrome on the bodywork. If photographing popsicles wets your whistle, you will inevitably find a way to show them in a light that is right.

What separates great from the good is that obsession with the subject in front of the lens, no matter what it is.

How To Learn Light?

Knowledge of light comes from experimenting and appreciating what each surface does to light, how it reflects or bounces, diffuses or travels directly, etc. This understanding then enables you to appreciate each modifier.

For example, a 5-foot octabox will have the same light spread as a 2-foot, but the softness will be different. A 1×6 softbox turned sideways will produce a hard vertical but soft horizontal shadow. Diffusion paper on a small source won’t make the light soft.

There are virtually thousands of examples like these that come from understanding what each little tool does to light.

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I’ve written a separate piece on learning light earlier this year. If you want a more detailed explanation, give that article a read!

Closing Thoughts

Professionals light their images in order to achieve an aesthetic rather than execute a bog-standard setup, just like how painters paint in order to convey a mood rather than do a technique exercise. Of course, good technique is important and helpful, but knowing four one-light setups is not a good technique — making your own light setups with 1, 2, 4, 10, and more lights to fit the aesthetic is a good technique.

I promise you, knowing how to light will not only bring progress to your photography but it also enables you to solve some of the most complex problems that arise on set.

About the author: Illya Ovchar is a commercial and editorial fashion photographer based in Budapest. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ovchar’s work on his website and Instagram.

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Should Photographers Ever Sell Their RAW Files?

Should Photographers Ever Sell Their RAW Files?

Should photographers sell their unedited RAW files to a client? Is there any benefit in doing so? These questions are discussed in this eight-minute video from David Bergman and Adorama.

The idea of handing over the RAW files has been debated before and at length. One thing that Bergman clears up in this discussion is that oftentimes when a client is asking for the RAW, they don’t actually mean the uncompressed .NEF or .CR3 files the camera produces, but rather the full resolution unedited JPEG as usually most non-photographers don’t have access to RAW processing software like photographers do anyway. The clients may simply want these files because they think the photographer isn’t delivering the highest resolution files possible for whatever reason.

Bergman goes on to say that creatives should have a discussion with our clients about this to find out exactly what they are looking for and detail how the editing process is done so they are reassured that they have received the highest resolution image that they paid for.

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If, however, they actually are asking for the RAW files, should photographers be willing to discuss handing them over? And if so, is there any benefit to selling them to the clients?

Bergman opens this discussion with the first real clear and concise answer, and that is “yes” because of the income opportunity. The key here is to be sure to price unedited RAW files at high enough of a margin to not lose out on any potential income from print sales, since technically speaking, the client could create prints on their own with those original files.

Asking a photographer to hand over a memory card, USB, or DVD of raw images is akin to asking an author to present you with their book in manuscript format: unedited, unformatted, and including the paragraphs and chapters that didn’t make it.

But creatives are often hired because of a particular look and style they can produce and often times that requires at least some minimal retouching and edits to achieve. Photographers have to ask if they want their unedited images out there without their name attached to it.

For people like photojournalists, there is likely very minimal editing involved and so in that case, it may not be much of an issue. However, for fashion photographers and conceptual artists, even if they were to put in as much effort as possible to get the image as close to the envisioned result in-camera, there is likely a lot of time spent on post-production editing every little detail to get the specific style. The last thing these photographers will want is their brand associated with an unedited and unprocessed image, let alone one that may have been altered and retouched by someone giving the shot a look and feel that is very far from the stylization they want to be affiliated with their name. In these cases, even though it is possible to earn much more money selling the RAW files to the client, Bergman still votes “no” on selling the unedited files.

Author’s take: Personally, I tend to agree with Bergman’s point of view on the matter. Even though there is a possible large financial benefit in just selling the RAW files after a shoot, it would feel far too “unprofessional” to hand them over to someone with the expectation of my name attached to it.

For more from David Bergman, visit his website or subscribe to the Adorama YouTube channel.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

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Why Do Photographers Use Flash Outdoors?

Why Do Photographers Use Flash Outdoors?

If you are new to photography, it can seem a bit counterintuitive when you see photographers using flash outside when there is plenty of available natural light. However, there is a good reason for this, and this excellent video tutorial will show you both why and how to do it.

Coming to you from Andrew Boey with Beyond Photography, this helpful video tutorial will show you how and why photographers shoot with flash outdoors. It might seem strange, but often, the problem is not the amount of available light, but its quality or direction. For example, if the sun is directly overhead, it may be very bright, but the harsh, hard contrast it creates and deep shadows under your subject’s eyes will not be particularly flattering. Another common situation is shooting portraits with a sunset as the backdrop. In this situation, you will need to expose for the sky, but this will cause you to underexpose your subject, which can be corrected with a bit of flash. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Boey. 

If you would like to continue to learn about lighting, be sure to check out the range of tutorials in the Fstoppers Store.

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Kauai is Cracking Down on Wedding Photographers Ignoring State Rules

Kauai is Cracking Down on Wedding Photographers Ignoring State Rules

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The state of Hawaii is cracking down on professional wedding photographers who are breaking state park rules on commercial activity in protected areas and has issued cease and desist notices to two prominent photography companies who photograph on Kauai.

Specifically, the companies “Brandyhouse Photographers” and “Foxes Photography” were named as recipients of the cease and desist letters issued by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for failing to get proper permits or permission to conduct photo shoots along the Na Pali Coast and other locations in Kauai, as reported by KITV4 Island News.

Permits are required for all filming and still photography activity on state-administered locations, and not all requests for permission are granted in order to protect natural areas and respect the local culture.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, says that she observed social media posts that show these companies have been chartering boats and capturing wedding images in areas that are are “100% illegal” to do so and are “culturally inappropriate.”

Kanoho says that efforts to discuss these issues with photographers have been met with derision and threats. She says that for years she has fielded complaints about what she calls “bad actors” who ignore regulations that require permits to conduct commercial activities like wedding photography in state parks.

KITV4 reports that one of the websites specifically states the following, but both promote the ability to reach secluded beaches, waterfalls, and ridge trails that they can use as wedding photo backdrops:

Our team knows Kauai like the back of our hands, we know the spots to get away from the crowds whether you’re looking for a secluded beach, a private waterfall or an epic ridge trail, and we know the vendors who will show up and take the best care of you.

The DLNR claims that both companies took photos in state parks without proper permits.

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“Our review of photographs on the company website, as well as on its social media pages, clearly show images from Kalepa Ridge, Wailua Falls, drone shots in Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks, as well as from Hanakapi’ai Beach and Honopu in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park,” the DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator Cur Cottrell says.

“Many of these places are both naturally and culturally sensitive and we would not be issuing permits for commercial drone operations or wedding photos in these sensitive locations.”

An anonymous tip to PetaPixel cites another company called Adventure Instead that specifically notes Kauai locations like Koke’e State Park and Waimea Canyon in advertising for wedding and elopement photography, both of which are mentioned by Cottrell as locations that the DLNR would not grant permits for hired wedding photography.

Ironically, Adventure Instead hosts paid photography courses in partnership with Leave No Trace that specifically promotes using public lands responsibly. That said, the DLNR has not named Adventure Instead as one who has received a cease and desist but does warn that ignoring rules for commercial advantage will eventually catch up with photographers.

“If you are ignoring the rules for commercial advantage, the evidence is on your websites, and the law will catch up with you,” Cottrell says. “For couples wanting to get married on Kauai, we encourage you to simply ask if your wedding photographer is a member of the professional association. They may not be able to get you to the exact spot of the likely unauthorized photo you saw, but they do know exactly where it is legal and appropriate and where it is not, due to culturally or naturally sensitive resources that are out of bounds… But hey it’s Kauai, so pretty tough not to get amazing photographs no matter where.”

Photography companies that receive a cease and desist letter could face criminal or civil citations which carry fines of thousands of dollars and potential jail time, KITV4 reports.

Image credits: Photos of the Na Pali Coast licensed via Depositphotos.

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5 Common Mistakes Photographers Make In Business

5 Common Mistakes Photographers Make In Business

Have a passion for photography and are thinking of turning it into a full-time profession? That’s an admirable and ambitious goal, and while it sounds exciting, the reality is that running a photography business is very different from pursuing photography as a hobby.

Many photographers learn the hard way when they run into obstacles and many end up failing. I’ve made all of these mistakes myself and I want to save you time, energy, and potentially your business altogether by walking through 5 common mistakes that photographers make when turning their photography hobby into a profession.

Mistake #1: Setting the Wrong Expectations

Yes, photography may be your passion and your work may be top-notch. Your own friends and family may even be asking why you haven’t taken the leap yet. The freedom to create what you want whenever you want is the best part of any creative endeavor… as a hobby.

Once photography becomes your career, you are providing a service, not just art. Your clients have expectations and needs that are on you as the photographer being paid to fulfill. The reality is that you will lose much of the freedom to create as you please. Clients hire based on what they’ve seen you already create and they expect you to replicate your style that you’ve developed and sold them on. Only the highly established names in photography are given complete creative freedom, and even that is rare.

If you enjoy just taking photographs, you may consider keeping it as a hobby. A passion doesn’t always have to become a profession. You can simply take photographs for your own enjoyment, and that’s completely okay.

Mistake #2: Lacking a Focus

You’re all in your photography business but you love so many types of photography. You’re the jack of all trades, taking pictures of everything from weddings and engagements to commercial and street. However, in order to succeed, I highly recommend you focus on and specialize in one genre.

Think about it. The industry is packed with incredibly talented photographers who spend their careers pursuing very specific niches. When you spread yourself across multiple genres, you’re likely not spending enough time to become great at any single one. Clients want the best and to be the best, you’ll want to invest the amount of time to get there. Whether it be wedding, food, fashion, or even cars, become exceptional and outcompete your competition.

Mistake #3: Not Understanding Your Audience

Knowing what your audience and target market wants and values is crucial if you’re going to be selling them your service. Take a Jewish-Orthodox couple for example. Their desired wedding photographs will differ greatly from a young adventure couple who want a wild destination wedding in Bali. The way you approach each couple will need to be completely different.

More broadly speaking, you shouldn’t present editorial fashion if you’re trying to book a couple for engagement photos. In the same way, your commercial car photographs will be irrelevant to a family looking for their portraits. Take the time to understand to a tee what your audience wants and craft your message to be their solution.

Mistake #4: Getting Lost in the Technical

When we fixate on the technical aspects of photography, we tend to lean on it when things go wrong. In addition, we end up trying to sell our services by boasting the technical features of our cameras and work. This is called “feature selling” and examples are showing off our expensive gear or our signature bokeh style. Not to worry though, we’ve all done it.

When we do this, we lose our ability to connect to our clients emotionally. They can’t relate because they don’t see photography the same way we do as photographers. Your clients aren’t there for the highest megapixel camera or your lighting technique. They’re there for something different and that’s our very last topic:

Mistake #5: Not Knowing Your Product

Nowadays, anybody can take a photo, so saying that’s what you’re providing will not be enough. In fact, what you’re selling is your ability to translate your client’s values into a photograph that they can then use.

An advertiser is looking for a way to visually express their brand’s message. Likewise, your wedding clients are looking for their memories captured and hung on the wall to remember. The photograph and your technical abilities are simply the means to get there.


I hope you enjoyed this article and video on the 5 mistakes photographers make when transitioning photography from a hobby to a career. Keeping these mistakes in mind and avoiding them can save you tons of time and energy when building your own business.

I’ve made all of these mistakes myself so rest assured, these are coming purely from experience. Photography as a profession is highly fulfilling but understanding the unique challenges that come with it is crucial for success.

P.S. For a complete course on the business of photography, check out the Photography Business Training System over on SLR Lounge Premium. Here, we dive into every aspect of building a successful business around photography. We’ve followed this model when building Lin & Jirsa into a 7 figure business, and in the course, we spill all the secrets to how you can do the same yourself. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time!

About the author: Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer based in Southern California and the co-founder of SLR Lounge. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Jirsa’s work on Instagram.

Image credits: Header photo licensed from Depositphotos

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Photographers to Follow on Instagram: October 8, 2021

Photographers to Follow on Instagram: October 8, 2021

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Every day, the PetaPixel Instagram account is sharing excellent photography from our readers and those who inspire us. Here’s a look at some of our recent favorite posts and the photographers behind the lens.

Our @PetaPixel Instagram page has been posting all the great work that finds its way in front of our eyes. Want to see your photos shared on our account? First, you’ll want to follow us. Then use the #petapixel hashtag in your posts to join our Instagram community of photographers. These steps let us easily find what to share.

Below, we recognize a selection of talented photographers who recently had their work featured on @PetaPixel. Keep posting your images with #petapixel and you could find yourself here next week.

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Dice Sales, or @dicesales on Instagram, started photography when he was in college with a borrowed point-and-shoot camera from his auntie. In 2012, he moved to New Zealnad and instantly fell in love with the beautiful views.

As for this image shown above, Sales said that it’s one of his favorites from his last visit to the Philippines in his hometown of Villasis. “I lived there for about 20-plus years but I have never seen the sun rising magnificently over the mountain, Mt. Balungau,” he told PetaPixel. “Thanks to technology and cameras nowadays, we can capture things from above and gives us a different perspective.” Sales is looking forward to the end of the pandemic so that safe traveling will open back up.

Photographers to Follow on Instagram: October 8, 2021 11

Blake Aghili, found on Instagram as @blakevisuals, is a beauty and fashion photographer based in New York. Aghili told PetaPixel that he gets his juice from photography and making good photos makes him happy and pushes him to go forward for the next shoot.

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Miguel Ponte is a wedding photographer based in Madeira, Portugal whose work can be seen on Instagram at @miguelponte.photographer. Ponte has been awarded by FEP as European Wedding Photographer of the Year 2021 and he is currently ranked world number one on PROWEDaward.

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Sebastien Blomme, known as @donlope01 on Instagram, is a wildlife photographer and self-proclaimed insect lover based out of France. Blomme told PetaPixel that this particular photo was taken seconds before sunset, therefore “the sun was not too strong allowing this to have some details on the butterfly.”

Photographers to Follow on Instagram: October 8, 2021 14

Alexey Vladimir, or @vladimir_alexey on Instagram, is a photographer from Moldova in Eastern Europe. Vladimir concentrates his efforts on editorials for magazines as well as creative concept photography.

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Ahmad Alnaji, found on Instagram as @ahmadannaji, is a fine art cityscape and architecture photographer based in Dubai. Alnaji told PetaPixel that he aims to create a mixture of fine art and cityscape and architecture with his photography.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see more work from photographers like you and tag photos with #petapixel for them to be considered for a feature.

Image credits: All photographs used with the permission of their respective photographers.

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The Best Backpacks and Bags for Photographers in 2021

The Best Backpacks and Bags for Photographers in 2021

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A photographer’s bag is the unsung hero of the working professional. Without it, photographers simply could not do their jobs. But for as many good bags out there, there are hundreds of bad ones. Let’s sift through that noise.

Backpacks are and will always be a highly contentious and subjective debate. Everyone has their favorite and because there are so many different expectations for what a bag should do, few can agree on the best backpack for every photographer.

What We’re Looking For

Backpacks need to perform a few tasks well, and that list of requirements changes depending on the envisioned use case. For example, while a day-use bag needs to be light and mobile, a travel bag needs to be comfortable to wear for long periods of time and able to hold more than just camera equipment. Adventure backpacks have a whole different set of requirements like the ability to support extremely precise adjustments and must have an internal rigid support system. In all cases, photographers expect their bags to be durable and long-lasting as well as secure.

I have actually argued in the past that it is impossible to make a single backpack that works for everyone, and I stand by that. It’s why in this article, we won’t be naming a best backpack for every photographer. Instead, we’ve broken down our ratings into seven categories that we think cover the most use cases that photographers can expect to run into. We’ll update this story as needed, but for now, these are our recommendations for the best backpacks and bags photographers can buy.

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Price: 20L is $260, 30L is $290

The “day-use” backpack is perhaps the most difficult to sift through as it is the most popular style and therefore the most manufacturers compete to earn your attention. It is also the category where the most concessions are made to appeal to the widest group of photographers, making it very difficult to find one bag that does everything right for every possible use case. Picking Peak Design here might seem like a cop-out, but after years of testing bag after bag after bag from a range of other options, I keep coming back to my Everyday Backpack.

It certainly isn’t perfect — but it’s also hard to define what perfect would even be in this category. The materials are high quality and thick, but that also means the bag itself is a bit too heavy for my liking and therefore it isn’t great to wear for a long period of time — though that isn’t to say I have not done it and been perfectly ok at the end of the day. I do like the easy access top cover and Peak’s use of magnets all over the bag is always appreciated. It’s a tough task to try and compete in this segment, but Peak Design seems to make the fewest concessions to produce a bag that’s reasonably comfortable, adaptable, and durable. For now, the Everyday Messenger gets the nod.

Not a fan of Peak? Other options we considered include the WANDRD PRVKE or the LowePro ProTactic.

Best Adventure Backpack for Photographers: Shimoda Action X70

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Price: $500 (includes the extra-large photo core)

If you aren’t an Adventure photographer, odds are high that you don’t quite understand the hype behind Shimoda’s products. If you are, then you probably appreciate how adaptable, durable, modular, comfortable, and usable Shimoda bags are. That’s really what it comes down to: high utility for an extremely tight use case.

Shimoda makes bags for photographers who plan to take long, multi-mile hikes and need something that can support equipment as well as essentials. Shimoda, therefore, had to create a backpack that could excel at carrying equipment but have all of the other benefits of a true backpacking backpack. The Action X70 is lightweight when empty, has an internal rigid frame that distributes weight evenly across the wearer’s back, has adjustable shoulder straps (a must), robust waist straps, and has a removable modular core system that makes it adaptable to the various kinds of adventures a photographer could have.

Shimoda saw a need in the market that was underserved and has truly excelled at making near-perfect bags to fit that specific niche. These bags can take an absolute beating and never tear or fray, and that’s important for something that’s going to be exposed to the elements immediately and for years. The Shimoda Action series is kind of the hill right now, and it’s not close.

Best Travel Backpack for Photographers: Shimoda Explore V2

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Price: 25L is $372, 30L is $384, and 35L is $400

Shimoda nails adventure so it’s no surprise that they hit another home run for travel. The Explore series is brand new and takes everything right about the Action X70 and slims it down into a more manageable size. The excellent build quality and modularity remain but in a package that is much easier to travel with.

The company made a few adjustments to the design that I found make is really great for travel both over land, sea, and air. Firstly, the two shoulder straps have easily accessible pockets that can hold a passport or a smartphone easily which I find very helpful when I need to get on a plane. The bag is lightweight when empty and can hold just enough camera equipment to satisfy a photographer who likes to travel light but also still keeps enough room for a few other basic essentials. It maintains the rigid internal frame found in Shimoda’s other bags as well, which means it is able to evenly distribute weight across the wearer’s back for more comfortable long-term use.

These bags were built with carry-on in mind, and the Explore 35 v2 qualifies in this regard for those who fly in the United States in “premium seating options,” while the Explore 30 v2 is sized for stricter European Union guidelines. The Explore 25 v2 is compact enough that it will travel almost anywhere and easily fit under an airline seat.

This isn’t the kind of bag that you can bring and carry everything you need for an international journey, that is more a duffel or the adventure category’s game. Instead, this bag is one that you can comfortably wear all day between trips back to a home base, whether that is a tent or a hotel room.

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Price: $400

Think Tank has absolutely nailed the rolling bag niche. The company actually has a line of very capable rollers, but the International V3 is likely the best for most. It’s great for travel, holds a solid amount of photography equipment, and is made of dependable materials.

Rollers really need to get just a few key things right but few companies nail these fundamentals like Think Tank does with the International: a good handle, smooth wheels, clean access points, and the ability to fit into overhead bins. Think Tank’s collapsible handle is exactly what you want to see in a robust yet lightweight design, the wheels make nary a sound when rolling down an airport hallway, the bag is easy to open and features multiple pockets and pouches, and the International is named such because it complies with overhead bin size restrictions for both domestic and international travel.

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Price: $260 for the bag alone and $328, which includes one essentials bag and a camera cube

The duffel is a challenging bag category to evaluate and while Peak Design and Shimoda have offerings that may technically qualify, Wandrd stands out as the most versatile. If you are looking for one bag that is capable of holding everything for a multi-day trip but don’t expect to wear it on your shoulders the entire time, duffels are a great choice and the HEXAD is the best of the bunch.

The HEXAD is a hybrid backpack and duffel bag but is most certainly useful as both. It uses a modular core system that is easy to put in and remove, so the bag can be more than just a way to transport photography equipment. The system is cavernous and spacious without being overly huge, which means there is enough for cameras, lenses, clothes, and essentials. It achieves this by its ability to open and collapse based on how much needs to be stowed inside of it. At its smallest, it’s just a rather large backpack. At its largest, it’s a rather impressively big duffel. Its versatility and functionality are really based on its ability to swap between these two forms and everything in between.

The build quality of the Wandrd HEXAD is great too, and I don’t expect it to wear out any time soon. If I had one complaint, I wish it shipped with a single over-the-shoulder strap that makes it easy to hoist quickly without wearing it like a true backpack, but it’s a minor complaint that is easily rectified.

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Price: $220

Messengers aren’t for everyone, but those who use them like them for their ease of use, quick access, and small size. While the Peak Design Everyday Messenger isn’t what most would call “small,” it is smaller than full-size backpacks but doesn’t sacrifice any of the durable, high-end touches that the bigger bags get. It nails the easy, quick access that messengers need and does so with the little Peak touches that are hard to not love — clever design choices, integration of magnets, convertible interior… it’s all here.

It may seem like yet another cop-out to give this pick to Peak Design because they’re popular, but these bags are popular for a reason: the Everyday Messenger was the company’s first foray into bags and has been wildly successful for years because it, like the Everyday Backpack, seems to make the fewest concessions en route to appeal to the widest group of people.

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Price: $60

I cannot overstate how important a good tech pouch is and how having one can be life-changing for a photographer who regularly travels. Before I had a tech pouch, I was cramming cables and adapters and memory card readers into side pockets and constantly losing track of them. The Peak Design Tech Pouch changed all that.

The level of organization that the Tech Pouch affords frees up so much mental energy when I’m on the road. It’s a simple bag, but it’s so well made that it deserves a call out. I’ve seen several other tech pouches from other companies but none nail it like Peak. The exterior of the pouch is a tough material that doesn’t attract pet hair or dust like small bags like this typically do, and the interior is divided into two main sections with a center divider that holds five additional sections. All seven of these compartments are visible from the second you open the pouch.

I am able to store and organize every little piece of tech I need to charge or connect any time, all at my fingertips in an easy-to-see layout. While the Moment Tech Organizer is close (and less expensive at $50), Peak Design right now makes the best one we have tested and for $60, we think it’s well worth the price.

Image credits: Header image courtesy of Shimoda.

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6 Pieces of Camera Gear That Improved a Landscape Photographer’s Work

6 Pieces of Camera Gear That Improved a Landscape Photographer's Work

Landscape photography requires a fair share of specialized gear, and knowing when to upgrade or what to splurge on can make a big difference in both your image quality and the ease and enjoyment of the experience. This excellent video features an experienced landscape photographer discussing six such pieces of gear that improved his landscape photography. 

Coming to you from Mark Denney, this great video discusses six pieces of camera gear that significantly improved his landscape photography. One of the most overlooked but useful purchases I made was a professional backpack. Landscape photography often requires multi-mile hikes to get to locations, and with a few dozen pounds of equipment on your back, proper ergonomics, padding, etc. can make a huge difference. Beyond that, you will often be exposed to the elements, and a good bag can offer all the sort of protection you need to be able to trust that your gear is not going to be ruined by a leak or the like. I have had mine for about eight years now, and it has not failed me yet. Check out the video for the full rundown from Mark Denney. 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out “Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi.” 

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Lowepro Introduce PhotoSport Pro Hiking Backpacks For Adventure Photographers

Lowepro Introduce PhotoSport Pro Hiking Backpacks For Adventure Photographers

PhotoSport Pro

Lowepro has introduced two new backpack options called the PhotoSport Pro to the PhotoSport III Series which is designed for photographers who enjoy combining photography with hikes and other outdoor adventures. 

The PhotoSport Pro comes in 2 sizes along with modular accessories as well as a modular design so you can organise your PhotoSport PRO backpack exactly as you want it. 

The 55 and 70-litre options both have room for a full-frame mirrorless or DSLR camera with a vertical grip and attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with room for 2 additional lenses or a portable camera drone and accessories. Plus, there’s room for hiking and camping essentials such as a sleeping bag, a tent, meal camp, jacket, and trekking poles. Each variant is available with a choice of two sizes of shoulder straps, too. 

To complement the backpacks, a modular GearUp Pro XL is provided which can be used as a removable camera compartment as well as providing added protection from impact and moisture. There’s also an 18L Runabout daypack (to be sold separately) that can be folded to fit in the PhotoSport Pro backpack then expanded to carry the entire camera compartment as a stand-alone camera bag while all other equipment is left at basecamp.

The PhotoSport PRO collection will be available worldwide in October 2021 with the following options and prices:

  • LP37341-PWW PhotoSport PRO 55L AW III(S-M)  £429.95
  • LP37342-PWW PhotoSport PRO 55L AW III(M-L)  £429.95
  • LP37436-PWW PhotoSport PRO 70L AW III(S-M)  £457.95
  • LP37437-PWW PhotoSport PRO 70L AW III(M-L)  £457.95
  • LP37441-PWW GearUp PRO camera box L II  £41.95
  • LP37442-PWW GearUp PRO camera box XL II  £54.95
  • LP37443-PWW RunAbout BP 18L  £74.95


From LowePro: 

PhotoSport Pro

Lowepro, a company with a 50-year legacy of creating protective gear-carrying solutions for adventure photographers, content creators, explorers and travellers continues the enduring PhotoSport III Series with the addition of the PhotoSport PRO, a range of multi-day hike backpacks designed to give the utmost protection, comfort, and modularity for the most challenging photographic journeys. The PhotoSport PRO comes in 2 sizes along with modular accessories designed to efficiently carry the necessities of a multi-day photographic expedition. The PhotoSport PRO line advances the Lowepro green line label that features sustainable products with a loading bar indicator of recycled fabrics level measured by surface area.

The PhotoSport PRO line consists of backpacks that carry an expansive array of both camera gear and hiking essentials to cover hiking and shooting for several days. The PhotoSport PRO backpacks come with a durable all-weather design that features the characteristic PhotoSport V-shaped exterior front panel. Built for the most extreme outdoor photography adventures, the PhotoSport PRO backpacks offer the carrying capacity needed for multiple days of hiking and backcountry travel without compromising on comfort and modularity while keeping their photography gear safe and secure.

This professional backpack line is offered in 2 sizes: 55 and 70 litres, both made to carry a full-frame mirrorless or DSLR camera with a vertical grip and attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with room for 2 additional lenses or a portable camera drone and accessories. Both bags are made to carry hiking and camping essentials such as a sleeping bag, a tent, meal camp, jacket, and trekking poles enough for the needs of a multiple-day journey. Each variant is available with a choice of two sizes of shoulder straps. S-M straps are designed to fit smaller torsos better. The straps have slightly more curve and a shorter length. M-L straps are designed to fit larger torsos better. The straps are longer and less curved. Foam is strategically perforated for flexibility where you need it and more padding where it helps most.



Each backpack comes with a modular GearUp PRO XL, accessible from both a front and a back access door, and serves as a removable camera compartment as well as provides added protection from impact and moisture.

An outdoor photographer requires carrying solutions that adapt to what the situation calls for. As the PhotoSport PRO backpacks allow the photographer to bring anything and everything needed for the journey, they also offer an adaptive carrying solution. Not all the equipment has to be carried throughout the adventure. Once at basecamp, the GearUp Pro XL can be removed from the entire backpack to be brought for when the photography happens.

Lowepro Introduce PhotoSport Pro Hiking Backpacks For Adventure Photographers 24


The backpack comes with an array of straps that allows added modularity in carrying the GearUp Pro individually or to make additional attachments. The GearUp Pro XL can also be purchased individually, along with the GearUp Pro L variant which is only sold separately. The 18L Runabout daypack to be sold separately as well is a portable backpack that is folded to a minimal size and expanded to carry the entire camera compartment as a stand-alone camera bag while all other equipment is left at basecamp.


PhotoSport Pro


The PhotoSport PRO backpacks are equipped with a fully adjustable ActivLift system that offers outstanding weight distribution and breathability that assures optimal comfort even with the heaviest loads in the longest of journeys. With its adjustable torso length, shoulder pad angle, chest straps, and waist straps, the backpack ensures a comfortable fit for outdoor photographers and hikers of any body type.

Anyone who loves the outdoors surely has a lot of concern for the environment. That is why the PhotoSport PRO backpacks join Lowepro’s green line label in which all gear carrying solutions are made from recycled fabrics. Each variant comes with a loading bar indicator that contains information about the percentage of recycled fabrics in the product. The PhotoSport PRO backpacks consist of 85% (BP 55L) and 86% (BP70L) recycled fabric while the GearUP PRO XL and L consist of 50% and 47% respectively. The Runabout daypack is made up of 84% recycled fabric as well. As the brand continues to grow supporting photographers and travellers through any photographic endeavour, Lowepro carries its community of photographers towards a direction committed to preserving and protecting the environment on which we set foot on each journey that begins with a packed bag.

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Manfrotto Announce New Bags And Accessories For Photographers

Manfrotto Announce New Bags And Accessories For Photographers

Manfrotto Announce New Bags And Accessories For Photographers 25


Manfrotto has introduced a long list of new bags and accessories for photographers which can be used out on location as well as in the studio. 

The camera bags receiving an update are the Pro Light, Advanced and Street camera bag collections that now feature Manfrotto’s padded protection system while the popular EzyFrame Background System for studio photography has six new Vintage style Cover and Kits available.

For those who want a quicker way to switch between tripods and other supports, Manfrotto has also launched the ‘Manfrotto Move Ecosystem’ which you can learn more about below. 

Pricing & Availability 

  • Manfrotto Street – Prices range from around £17.95 to £105.95
  • Manfrotto Pro Light  Prices range from around £45.95 to £299.95
  • Manfrotto Advanced  Prices range from around £27.95 to £210.95
  • Manfrotto EzyFrame Vintage Backgrounds – Prices range from £250.95 to £429.95 
  • Manfrotto Move Ecosystem Accessories – Prices range from £27.95 to £611.95
  • All will be available from October 2021

For more information, visit the Manfrotto website


From Manfrotto:



Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, videography and imaging equipment and accessories industry, is thrilled to present an entirely renewed collection of camera bags and carrying solutions that were carefully and brilliantly designed to fit the needs of every kind of imaging creative. With the all-new PRO Light, and the redesigned Advanced and Street camera bag collections ushering in an all new padded protection system, the Manfrotto camera bag range ensure stylish and customizable carrying solutions with best-in-industry gear protection. 

Manfrotto re-focuses on the core professional and advanced users providing the best-in-industry CSC protection for professional photo and video applications. The new PRO Light 2021 collection is a specialized camera gear carrying solution line that was conceptualized and developed to cater to specific gear needs of photo and video professionals. This includes 5 uniquely designed backpacks that offer various capacities, access points, and specialized compartments, as well as two Tough hard cases that expand the line up of rolling bags with the launch of the new Tough carry-on sized with pre-cubed foam insert and check-in sized rolling bag and unique modular Tough accessories. With this also comes the re-launch of the Advanced series that is geared towards the everyday needs of urban photographers. The all-new Street collection completes the range of Manfrotto carrying solutions with specific models designed for vloggers and content creators who use compact system cameras. 


PRO Light

Pro Light


The PRO Light collection was designed and created to cater to the high demands of professional photographers and filmmakers. It offers 4 backpack variants each made to provide solutions for different highly specialized usage and applications. Each bag has different access points into the gear compartments that would allow more efficient body mechanics to fit different creative workflows. With the PRO Light Backloader that is available in 2 sizes offering full rear access and a secondary top door, the PRO Light Frontloader backpack that offers full compartment access from the front with a secondary quick-access side door, the PRO Light Multiloader M that offers front main access, as well as double side and top access doors, and the PRO Light Flexloader L that provides a full front access to the main compartment, with a unique expandable secondary compartment for gimbal stabilizers and other accessories for additional equipment requirements that require their very own padded space. The PRO Light collection also expands the rolling bags collection with the addition of a carry-on sized Tough hard case that come in two sizes to fit aviation standards and compatible modular accessories, and a check-in sized Tough hard case for bigger capacities. 





The reputable Advanced collection has been revamped with a renewed design. This collection includes an all-new carry-on sized rolling bag for expansive photographic gear requirements. The backpack range offers the most diverse selection of camera backpacks that are designed for specific needs of photographers and filmmakers. The Advanced Compact, Active, Befree, Gear, Fast, and Travel backpacks offer a diverse variations of backpacks that differ in overall capacity, designated compartments for camera gear and personal items, and various options for access points to the gear compartments that complement the needs of every creator with any kind of on-the-go workflow. For quick and easy on-the-go shooting that requires controlled movement and protection, the Advanced Holster comes in small, medium, and large sizes, the Advanced Shoulder bag comes in extra small, small, medium, and large for the carrying needs of different sizes, and the all-new Advanced Messenger bag that pack a fully adjustable and customizable cross-body carrying solution for protected yet comfortable shooting. Topping off the collection is the Advanced Rolling Bag that offers a full photographic carrying solution for all kinds of camera and support gear in the size of a cabin-friendly carry-on sized luggage. 





The iconic Manfrotto Street camera bag has also been refreshed to give 100% convertible bags that shift from a full photography gear centric configuration to a lifestyle bag in an instant. Its contemporary urban design perfectly goes with the demands of a dynamic daily life. The Street collection caters to users with mirrorless cameras and related modern imaging accessories that aid in digital storytelling and creation on-the-go. The Street backpack now comes in a slim form with interchangeable front or back opening, and removable inserts that converts it into a 100% everyday lifestyle bag. The Slim backpack is now accompanied in the range by a convertible Street tote for a modular and trendy lifestyle bag that instantly turns into a backpack with the harness stowed in its own dedicated compartment. This Street Convertible Tote bag has a top opening compartment for personal items, and a rear opening compartment for compact camera gear. This expanded line also comes with the Street Waist bag, that can be carried through a variety of ways and carries compact camera gear and accessories. The Street Tech Organizer is a handy compartment for small and medium sized tech accessories such as cables, batteries, portable lighting, and small audio accessories, and topping off the collection is the Street Crossbody pouch, a compact compartment for smartphones and small accessories that can be carried individually through a pull-out drawstring, or as an extended compartment to the Street backpack or tote. 

All of the renewed Manfrotto camera bag and carrying solutions collections feature an all new protection system in the form of high-performance modular divider that improve the customizability and cushioning of the internal compartments. The M-Guard Protection System was specifically designed and laboratory tested to guarantee the highest level of protection and shock resistance especially on areas of the bag where protection is most crucial. M-Guard dividers are made of high-density EVA foam that provide exceptional shock absorption while maintaining a super slim profile. 

The renewed expansive Manfrotto bag collection made up of the stylish Street collection, the urban-centric Advanced collection, and the Professional grade PRO Light bag collection stand in the front lines of Manfrotto’s aim to provide iconic and stylish carrying solutions that raise the bar in gear protection that is unrivaled and maintained to be the best in the industry. The vast collection of renewed products is aimed at providing uncompromising options for any kind of photographer and filmmaker no matter the workflow requirements and individual skill level.


Introducing Manfrotto Move Ecosystem: Create at the speed of inspiration

M-Guard Protection System


Manfrotto, the worldwide leader in photography and videography supports, has unveiled the first products from an all-new modular line that comprises their forward thinking Move Ecosystem. Developed to harness the concepts of speed of use and versatility, these dedicated Move Ecosystem products are designed for today’s modern creatives who shot both video and photo and want the ability to transition frequently between their varying supports with no lag. Move signals the birth of a faster and more versatile future for the workflow of photo and video professionals everywhere who will finally be able to move limitlessly at the speed of their inspiration.  

The Move Ecosystem is designed around the new Quick Release System, a lightweight base and plate system which when attached to users various supports offers increased speed of transfer between them without having to stop to screw and unscrew parts. It all happens in one click that immediately actions professional stability no matter the direction in which the equipment is inserted, though an additional twist lock is provided to ease heavy users minds. And while speed is certainly a profound benefit of the Quick Release System, due to its universal 3/8” connection standard, the system is capable of connecting varying support types to each other revealing enhanced functionality from users existing systems. For example, Manfrotto tripods can be coupled with sliders and different heads on top, while Manfrotto’s Gimboom can be paired with the new Modular Gimbal 300XM in order to have a 2 meters long stabilized support with remote control capabilities that can be fully operated by a single user.

This is possible due to the 300XM Gimbal’s detachable modular construction including its stabilizing head and electronic controls which when separated can still communicate via bluetooth connection. The gimbal head can also be adapted onto a completely separate support such as a tripod or slider, for example, and be used a remotely operated shooting station. With its limitless modular application this market leading handheld Gimbal is guaranteed to redefine the standards of professional gimbal support for CSC users.

And while Move’s innovative adaptability is set to make huge improvements to the speed and versatility of production, Manfrotto’s approach to modularity isn’t just looking to what’s new. With a brand-new set of attachable twin legs Gimboom has also been revamped to introduce the two-in-one solution Gim-Pod, which equally performs as a professional grade boom as well as a tripod. Paired with Manfrotto’s newly announced and upcoming Q6 Ball Head featuring a sliding Arca-Swiss compatible top-locking mechanism and 3 bubble levels this configuration offers infinite applications for creators, from a lightweight kit. 

The Move Ecosystem is much more than a collective of innovative solutions, it is a shift in paradigm. By harnessing the power of modularity Manfrotto has created a new age of interconnecting supports and parts that will allow professionals to not only move at an unprecedented speed but also allow users to customize their gear to meet their individual project needs. Welcome to the age of Move. 


New EzyFrame Background 2m x 2.3m (6.5’ x 7.5’) additional vintage covers and kits


Manfrotto, the world’s leading manufacturer of photography, video and cinema production equipment announces the launch of six new Vintage style Covers and Kits for the EzyFrame Background System.

These six new background surfaces have already proven extremely popular in our collapsible background collection and are favoured by image makers the world over for achieving a fashionable, hand painted vintage look that subtly complement the chosen subject in a truly portable solution. 

These textures are inspired by this popular choice of background style and take influence from classic and present trends within the fashion, beauty and portraiture industry. They feature six fresh colours with a characteristic classic design and feel, which complement the existing range: Tobacco, Olive, Smoke and Concrete perfectly. Meaning there are now a total of ten beautiful surfaces to choose from in the highly innovative EzyFrame Background system.

The 2m x 2.3m (6.5’ x 7.5’) EzyFrame Background is a large format collapsible background system offering a much larger shooting area than our 5’ x 7’ collapsible ‘pop-up’ style backgrounds. The extra width and height combined with the squarer format offers an increased surface area of over 46% allowing the content creator to pose multiple subjects and use large props. Ideal for family portraits, more animated action poses, fashion and commercial shoots.

The Ezyframe Vintage Background features the tried and tested rapid assembly aluminium frame and clip on cover design used on our highly successful Skylite and ProScrim light control kits, Panoramic and Chroma Key FX Backgrounds and StudioLink Chroma Key solutions. Assembled in a matter of minutes the frame and cover packs down into a small rigid carry case measuring only 103cm x 19cm x 14cm (40.5” x 7.4” x 5.5”) making it extremely portable.

The EzyFrame Vintage Background covers include a small 15cm (6”) skirt along the bottom edge that conceals the aluminium frame and allows the user to combine the background with their chosen floor surface when shooting full length images. The background can be supported directly against a wall or freestanding using a light stand with a Manfrotto Griphead (LL LA8446). The EzyFrame Vintage Background is also compatible with the Manfrotto Aluminium Frame Support Kit (LL LA8450).

The backgrounds are available as kits which include frame, cover and carry case or ‘covers only’ for users looking to interchange different surfaces on the same frame.

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