What kind of camera gear do you use?
The gear I bring on a shoot varies from assignment to assignment. I usually tweak what I bring based on what I anticipate (or often, what I fear I may not be able to anticipate!). In general though, this is what my basic kit looks like. I travel pretty light:
Canon 5D MK 2. Typically two camera bodies on important shoots.
Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L series lens
Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L series lens
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L series Image Stabilized Lens
Canon 50mm 2.5 macro lens
Canon 25mm & 12mm extension tubes
Canon 2x teleconverter
Canon 15mm 2.8 Fisheye lens
Canon 20mm 2.8 prime lens (for underwater)
Manfrotto Fluid Head (for motion)
Gitzo G5160 Ballhead (for stills)
Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripods (various, depending on weight and needs)
Lee ND filters (.3 .6 .9 soft and hard). Warming filters (rarely used)
Circular polarizing filters
Mounting kit for Lee Filters
Lens cloth and cleaning fluid
Pocket Rocket (for cleaning sensor in the field)
Paintbrushes (for cleaning camera and lens bodies of dust)
iPad (for model releases and for general mapping/planning)
MacBook Air with solid state memory and many hard drives
SanDisk 16GB-32GB memory cards, fastest I can get my hands on!
A Little About Me…
I grew up in central New Jersey, which at the time was more rural than it is now. My most formative years were spent around Assunpink Wildlife Refuge and the hardwood forests surrounding my home in Millstone Township. My family wasn’t very big on television when I was younger, so most of my time with my parents was at the local park, wildlife refuge or somewhere outside where I’d explore, nothing dramatic and often just ducks. Those feelings continued to develop and entered a more serious phase in my early teens when we took our first trips to the great American West to Grand Canyon and Glacier National Park in Montana. A few years later I would decide to attend college in Montana, sealing my love of the outdoors and forever tying my passion with the National Parks, particularly Yellowstone which I lived not too far north of.
My first book, The National Parks: Our American Landscape, is not so much of a comprehensive look at the parks, though it includes all the big ones as well as many of the less well-known parks and covers every region of our country from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine and Florida and everywhere in between, but a personal journey that I am sharing. It is a collection of extraordinary moments in extraordinary places. I don’t keep a journal or diary with words, but when I flip through these pages or any photos of mine, the memories and feelings come back to me. In a way, the publication of this book is a very personal thing to me, I’m sharing the most special moments of my life.
What is unique about my neighborhood is . . .
I’ve lived in the Century City area over six years but have been a Los Angeles resident for almost 14. In that time I’ve lived in a variety of different parts of town but this has been my favorite. When I’m not on the road shooting assignments, I typically build a long run into my day, anywhere from 4 miles to 7 miles and the area I live in is great for this, especially the park and golf course in Cheviot Hills, which has a trail that runs all the way around it, 2.2 miles without ever having to cross a single street or wait for a stop light, which is rare to find anywhere else but the beach.
My friends would describe me as . . .
Multi-tasking. I get bored easily and have a constant need to fill every minute of my day with some sort of activity, whether it’s yoga or running, to having multiple, long-term work-related projects at various stages. Since nothing in life moves at the speed I want it to, I find that having various projects allows me to balance out my schedule. I’m working to be more mindful to allow quite time into my day.
My favorite place to hike around LA is . . .
I like the accessibility of Runyon Canyon but ashamed to say that I only recently discovered hiking in the Angeles National Forest and was amazed that a place with so many canyons, waterfalls and swimming holes existed only 30 miles away from my house. I also love doing the coastal hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains including portions of the Backbone Trail.
My favorite outdoor activity is . . .
This is a tough one. I balance my year between skiing, backpacking, day hikes, biking, running, mountaineering (most recently climbed and made summit on Mt. Rainier) and anything else that gets me outside. But aside from just being physically active, I’d say photography has to take the top spot. People don’t realize how physically challenging this job can be. I typically have 35-40lbs of camera gear on my back plus whatever food and water I need for the day. For a backpacking trip this can go as high as 50lbs. Now imagine sprinting for the perfect set-up at last minute light…it’s like a sport in itself that I jokingly call the “Canon School of Fitness” after my preferred brand of camera.
I got my first camera when I was . . .
I’m the son of a professional photographer (ShiveArchive.com) so I’ve been taking photos since I could stand upright and was working in a dark room since a kid (but admit to often napping under my dad’s black and white enlarger more than being a good assistant).
When I’m looking for inspiration, I . . .
Look at other people’s photography. I love photography and find inspiration in the unique perspectives that people have. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone doesn’t want to share their photos with me because they think I’ll scoff at them for not looking like mine when in fact, I love all images, sometimes for different reasons. Sometimes the images are better than people realize and are just very critical of themselves (like me) or sometimes they aren’t technically the most well executed photo but still offer insight into a unique perspective or a place I never knew about that could offer new photographic opportunities. Either way, if I couldn’t be a photographer, I’d probably be a photo editor, as I never get tired of reviewing images.
When I have down-time, I like to . . .
Hang-out with friends. I dig spending time in Venice on Abbot-Kinney hitting up the food trucks and just hanging out playing video games.
The way I think I can have the greatest impact on the environment is . . .
Inspiring people to get outside. There could easily be a lot of eco stewardship messaging and preaching that could caption my work but the best compliment to me is when someone sees one of my photographs and feels inspired to put on their boots and get out there. I believe that is where the seed of environmental protection begins, that we feel inspired to go somewhere beautiful and eventually fall in love with that experience. It may not be right away, but over time a hiker becomes a defender of the place they draw so much peace and enjoyment from. That is the true foundation of a conscious environmentalist.
The best thing someone can say about my work is . . .
I always like when people compare my images to paintings. It’s a compliment because I draw the great majority of my inspiration from the style, texture and palette offered in paintings, especially
What’s been most surprising to me in my life is . . .
The fact that I live in a city! I grew up thinking I’d end up living in some mountain town but I have to admit that once I moved to California (I’m from New Jersey originally with a brief stop in Montana) I knew instantly that this state was for me. It has everything you could ever want; more national parks than any other state, mountains meet ocean, moderate weather and a bustling economy filled with creative individuals that constantly inspire me. I’d say the hub of that is Los Angeles. I regularly visit the mountain towns but believe I’ll always live here. The funny thing is most people are equally surprised as me that a nature photographer lives in such a big city!
The one thing I still haven’t done and hope to do is . . .
I’d love to do an epic journey. A multi-month foray across a continent, perhaps Africa, or retracing the route of Marco Polo or driving from LA to the Arctic Circle documenting the entire journey in photos and words.
I’d like to add that…
There is an interesting dichotomy happening between the environmental movement and the sudden burst of people living smarter and more consciously, including here in Los Angeles and cities around the world. I think for a long time people thought that to be an advocate of the environment you had to go back to the stone age, giving up your five star restaurants, architecturally designed homes and the life you love living in a city. What I think people are realizing is that we can have those things and just do it all smarter, having less of an impact and preserving our natural world while only further enriching our life here in the cities.