Talk us through your gear. What are your go-to items?
I have swapped from the traditional DSLR to smaller mirrorless models now and my favourite camera to use is my Sony A7ii. It is a 24 Megapixel full frame camera which is fast enough to shoot sports. The handling is close to perfect and results are gorgeous. In terms of lenses, I shoot as much as possible with wide angles, as it gives so much more impact, so have zoom lenses in my bag covering everything from 16mm to 200mm. I also love Bowen’s new GenerationX studio lights. They are powered by in-built batteries so I can take them anywhere without the need for a plug socket.
Is there anything special you carry with you on shoots?
I always carry two-way radios when shooting. It makes a shoot so much easier. If working with an individual, such as a snowboarder, I can communicate with them without the need for mobile phones and the hassle of removing gloves or patchy reception. When shooting a sport like cycling, I can retune the radio to listen into the commissaire's car which broadcasts time gaps and incidents etc, so I can keep abreast of the action even when it is miles away.
When shooting in the snow, I now always carry a set of crampons with me. It gets very icy at the side of ski slopes and it’s never dignified to fall and end-up 100 metres down the mountain. I learnt this the hard way.
How do you choose gear for different projects?
Size and weight is the main factor. I have to think how much I can carry with me. Cycling is a great example where my switch to mirrorless cameras has benefitted. I ride in the passenger seat of the team car and everything has to sit in the foot well, together with spare drinking bottles, energy bars and anything else the riders may need, like rain jackets and arm warmers. I also have to consider weight when shooting in the show, as I often have to snowboard to the park from the lift and the lighter my bag, the easier it is to ride.
Which piece of gear would you never leave at home?
I never leave home without my Sony Cybershot RX100v. It may only be a compact, but it is packed with high-end features and the quality of photo is superb. I can shoot 4K video and super slow motion too. I never leave home without it.
Does your gear sometimes take a pounding to get the shots you’re known for?
I have never been very precious with my gear. I put screen protector on the back, but apart from that it gets no special treatment. It’s never let me down. Half the time it is banging around as I run to get in position for a photo. In my career I have been run-over, had it hit by wayward footballs and been clamped to the roof of cars as it’s been driven through a storm. It all survived.
Any items you wish you could add to your bag?
I really wish Sony made a 300mm f/4 for it’s mirrorless range. I don’t need the big white f/2.8 lenses sports photographers traditionally use any longer. In the days when we all shot on film and the early days of shooting digital SLRs, you could only shoot up to ISO 400 before the quality was really compromised. As a result, I needed lenses which would suck in as much light as possible in order to allow me to shoot at lower sensitivities. The latest generations of sensors are so good it’s easy to shoot up to ISO6400 before seeing a significant drop-off, so swapping my big, cumbersome 300mm f/2.8 for a compact 300mm f/4 lens would be amazing.
Any tips for aspiring photographers?
Don’t worry about your gear. You don’t need the fastest or best and latest model to take great shots. You just have to remember that before the late 1980s nobody had autofocus and it was that long ago that there were no motorwinds or in-built metering and the professionals were still producing outstanding results, because they were often anticipating the picture and with this skill and a little luck producing jaw-dropping pictures. Slow down and practice your technique. In my opinion, it’s a common mistake to hold your finger down on the shutter and hope you get one picture from the hundreds being captured. I often find it’s the shots I plan and know I want to take are the ones I like best.
- Sony a7 Mark ii
- Sony a6500
- Sony 16-35mm f/4 Zeiss
- Sony 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss
- Sony 70-200mm f/4 G
- Sony 55m f/1.8 Zeiss
- Sony HVL-F60M Flash (x2)
- Cactus V6iiS Remote triggers
- Memory Cards
- Business Cards
- Sony Xperia XZ
- Two Way Radio
- Sensor Blower
- Lens Cloth