23 August 2019

Commercial Photographers – Equipment Preference

Newcomers to the professional commercial photography in Singapore field often wander around in their mind if they have the appropriate equipment for the job. This isn’t a strange thought since its a paid gig after all. A client pays good money and expects professional results that match the value they are paying. So what professional equipment commercial photographers often use?

Different fields have different niche and specialized types of equipment to serve the niche. A landscape photographer will prefer a high megapixel count full-frame camera paired with a wide-angle lens. This combination is ideal as landscape photographers require a detailed frame with wide-angle to capture the most out of a particular landscape. If you throw this combination to say a portrait professional, it becomes harder to work (not to say impossible) as portraits are usually captured in the medium tele-primes.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to explore from our experience serving the food niche as a professional photographer. Our results are often used in commercial spaces. Food photography, especially for a commercial purpose is unique as a photographer needs to understand the creative direction of the client and translates the direction into actionable photos.

Camera & Lenses

For food photography, we need the resolution to give us the flexibility in cropping during the post-processing stage. To achieve this result, we often default ourselves to Canon 5D Mark IV or a Canon 5Ds. Any 35mm full-frame camera is going to achieve a decent result in any given food photography but if you want the flexibility to crop at a later stage, stick to any full-frame 35mm that offers 30 Megapixels or more.

From time to time, we get requests to shoot with a big budget. To deliver results similar to the budget provided, we rent ourselves medium to large format cameras to satisfy the image quality needs for our delivery to the client. Phase 1 or a Pentax 645D are both excellent cameras to work with, albeit they cost a kidney and an arm each.

My ideal selection of lens for food photography would be the 35mm, 50mm, and 80-100mm. Since I am using a Canon system, I would usually go with “L” lenses for maximum optical performance.

In food photography, most subjects are static. Naturally, we use a tripod, prime lens and artificial light to eliminate variables that can make our job harder. Once you got it set up, it all boils down to the photographer’s creativity and photo composition to speak for the result.

Key – Composition and Style

Our advice to young and aspiring photographers is to focus on your own styles rather than the equipment. Each professional photographer that we came across has their own unique approach and own styles in commercial photography. It is these styling that differentiates one photographer from another.

In conclusion, if you wish to become a professional commercial photographer in Singapore, you should focus on developing your own techniques and style to the images. A client does not look into what equipment you have to do the job but rather at your past portfolio to determine if you have what it takes to deliver and satisfy their standards.