Software & Hardware for the Social Media Photographer

While I shoot for a living, I am not your typical photographer. I must compromise between high-quality stills and video while maintaining a small footprint. If I were shooting for broadcast or print, this would pose a serious dilemma for me. But since the content I shoot is targeted to the internet, and with improvements in technology in photo and video - I have found the right products that fit my particular situation where I can carry several days' worth of gear with me in a single shoulder bag. 

In the past I owned and maintained several computers and storage systems because the technology available to me required it. I also carried huge bags of Canon equipment including three camera bodies, upto 9 lenses and all kinds of accessories and tripods along with hard-shell Pelican cases full of GoPro action cameras and a drone. Today I am thrilled that I can do my job, and do it well with the small amount of very specialized gear I use now. It has only taken me 20 years to figure it out! 

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY

I shoot with Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless cameras and the Apple iPhone 6 & 6s Plus. I primarily use two lenses on the X-T1s: the Fujifilm 14mm Prime & 50-140mm zoom. I am testing the Zeiss Touit 12mm, 35mm and 50mm primes and the LensBaby Circular Fisheye, Composer Pro I, & Composer Pro II Lenses with the Sweet 35mm, Sweet 50mm, 50mm Edge & 80mm Edge Optics. The 14mm and 50-140mm are used for 90% of all my X-T1 photography. On the iPhone 6 & 6S Plus, I use the wide, tele, and macro lenses from Moment.

VIDEO

After I abandoned Canon DSLR cameras, I switched to the Panasonic Lumix GH4 mirrorless with Rokinon Prime Cinema lenses as my preferred video camera for a short time. I loved this camera but with my never-ending quest to reduce the gear I travel with I also abandoned the GH4 and now shoot all my cinematic-themed projects with Fujifilm X-T1 cameras and my iPhone 6S Plus. I use the iPhone 6 in the rain or when the conditions are otherwise hazardous. I love the treatment of the video that is applied to the footage using Fuji's Classic Chrome LUT. For video podcasting, I have settled on using the Canon Vixia Mini X camcorders. With that said, there is a high likelihood that the VIxia Mini X will be dropped in favor of the fleet of iPhones I'll have when the September 2016 version of the iPhone is released. This will mean less cameras, chargers and batteries to be packed and carried. I will still use the Mini X for podcasting from my studio.  

These are my go-to cameras in all situations unless otherwise requested by the client and provided for in the project budget. As of 2016, All the video I have produced since mid 2015 has been shot on either the iPhone 6/6S Plus, Canon Vixia Mini X or the Fujifilm X-T1. As an experiment, the iPhone 6S Plus & 7 will be the only video devices I use for the following 12 months. I will use Moment Lenses with the new iPhone to increase its flexibility. I will also use sliders, tripods, gimbals and jibs to get the best movement out of the device. Let's see how far I get into this little journey. 

360/VR VIDEO

After several months testing several cameras for 360 Video solutions including the 360Heros 6 camera GoPro rigs, Ricoh Theta S, Kodak Dual Pro Sp3604K, 360fly, the GoPro Stereoscopic 2 camera rig, and some mirrorless rigs for shooting 180-degree video. I have settled on using the 360fly 4k camera setup for now. VR video camera technology is fast moving and I am always on the lookout for a rig that will give me the best combination of video quality, small footprint, and efficient post production workflow.

AERIAL/DRONE VIDEO

For drone photography/video, I currently use DJI Phantom quadcopters with DJI stock cameras.  

As you can see, I shoot with and have access to several different in-house cameras for different scenarios. With that said, I am using small footprint, consumer level devices by design. This helps me travel light and keep my rates competitive while offering a healthy array of media solutions for my clients. Other cameras or equipment can easily be rented from rental partners. While the right tools of the trade are critical, the most vital ingredient to a successful project is thorough planning. During pre-production planning and concept development I meet with each client and map out a project concept and proposal addressing the unique elements necessary for the success of the project. During this pre–production planning period I address the following areas:

  • Goal – What is your goal for the project? ( e.g. fundraising, promotion, etc. )
  • Message – What information do you want your audience to walk away with?
  • Audience – Who is your primary audience? (e.g. funders, prospective clients, general audience)
  • Length – What are your length restrictions? (e.g. most effective web video is 3-5 minutes)
  • Venue/format – How will people see your film or video? (the web, DVD, broadcast)

After these primary questions are answered I can focus on style, content, timeline, budget, and logistics. Although I always begin with a very clear idea of the look, feel, and effect of your final cut, I allow room for projects to grow, change, and develop organically.

Providing a full range of production and post-production services, I can take your projects from concept to final cut, because I offer all of these services in-house using small, highly qualified professionals, I can keep these services affordable.


Hardware & Software TOOLS I AM CURRENTLY USING ON PROJECTS

This is the gear I use on a day-to-day basis. The items on this list have been tested in real-world situations on real jobs. This is the gear and the software I use to deliver award-winning results to my clients.  If it's not obvious yet, everything on this list is highly-recommended by me personally. 

Yes, something is strange here. I am no longer using a desktop/laptop with a full desktop operating system as my main workstation.

While there are a few critical things I am still missing in my new workflow, I have found that overall it is possible to do all my work now on iOS. This includes all photo and video editing. As a last crutch, I have a headless Mac Mini connected to a Drobo 5 in my office for file storage and media archiving. I connect to this device via VNC Viewer from my iPad.

I use 1TB of iCloud Drive Storage and 1TB of Dropbox storage to access files for my iOS devices. When iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are released I will be able to make additional files accessible from my Mac to my iOS devices via Apple's iCloud Desktop & Documents Sync Services. 

Ironically, the one task I still cannot achieve on iOS is editing pages on SquareSpace sites. They have analytics, portfolio and blog posting apps for iOS and all work great. I wish they'd release apps for editing regular pages and for general administration. 

Computers & Mobile Devices

  • Apple iPad Pro, 12.9"
  • Apple iPhone 7 PlusiPhone 6S Plus & iPhone 6s
  • Apple Mac Mini 16GB, 2TB, 2.5 GHz File Server w/ Apple 27" LED Cinema Display
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Cameras

  • 360fly 4k Action Cameras
  • Apple iPhone 7 PlusiPhone 6S Plus & iPhone 6s
    • Moment Lenses (Wide, Tele, Macro)
  • Canon Vixia Mini X Camcorders
  • DJI Phantom Quadcopters
  • FujiFIlm X-T1 Cameras
    • FujiFIlm 14mm & 50-140mm Lenses
    • LensBaby & Composer Pro I Lenses w/ Sweet 35mm, Sweet 50mm, Edge 50mm, & Edge 80mm Optics
    • Zeiss Touit 12mm, 35mm & 50mm Prime Lenses
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Gear & Accessories

  • Alpine Labs Radian Timlapse Motion Device
  • Blue Yeti Mocrophones (Heil PL-2T)
  • Boostcase iPhone Battery Cases
  • Bose Headphones
  • Cinetics Cinemoco System
  • Domke Camera Bags
  • Drobo 5 NAS
  • enloop Rechargeable Batteries
  • Evo SP Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal
  • eye.fi MobiPro SD Memory Cards
  • Fotodiox FlapJack LEDs

 

  • M-Audio Oxygen 49 Keyboard Controller
  • Manfrotto Ball Heads, Light Stands, Monopods & Tripods
  • Monoprice Studio Monitors
  • Mophie Portable Batteries
  • Pelican Cases
  • Sandisk Extreme SD and MicroSD Memory Cards
  • Sennheiser Wireless Lavalier Microphones
  • Wasabi Rechargeable Batteries
  • Zoom H4n Audio Recorders

Software (All software is for the macOS platform)

  • Apple - Calendar, Final Cut Pro (FCPX), Garage Band, iCloud Disk, Keynote, Mail, Motion, Notes, Numbers, Pages, Photos, Reminders, Safari, TextEdit, Xcode
  • Audio Production  - Audacity, Propellerhead Reason, SoundSoap, SoundSoap
  • Photo Editing - CameraBag2, Circular Studio, DxO OpticsPro for Photos, JPEGmini, Focus 2 Pro, FX Studio Pro, Intensify Pro, Macphun Filters For Photos, Portrait Studio Pro, Snapheal Pro, Snapselec, Tonality Pro
  • Utilities - Carbon Copy Cloner, CleanMyMac, DiskWarrior, Dropbox, FileRename, Google Chrome, Google Drive, GoToMyMac, HMA! Pro VPN, iShowU HD, Noun Project, PDFpenPro, SuperDuper, TextExpander, VectorIconBox
  • Video Editing - Cinemagraph Pro, CrumplePop Plugins for FCPX, Kolor Autopano Giga, Kolor Autopano Video Pro, otionVFX Plugins for FCPX, Pixel Film Studios Plugins for FCPX, PTGui Pro, Screenflo, VideoStitch Studio