I’m a professional photographer, and I have been getting paid to take photographs for years. As such I have accumulated a lot of equipment that your average food photography enthusiast will not want to splurge on. This does not mean you need to go out and spend a fortune on gear to make great photographs. I’d like to emphasize that you can make excellent photographs whether you are using an expensive SLR or a cheap point and shoot. A good photo is a good photo no matter how it was taken or what gear was used to make it.
Can we all agree on that point and then move on? Yes?
Ok, I’ve piously said what I’m supposed to say about how good photography doesn’t need expensive gear. Now lets be honest. The reason you’re reading this page is that you’re interested in the fetish industry that is photography equipment. It’s ok, I understand you. You are among friends.
To say that my choice to pursue a career in photography doesn’t have anything to do with the cool gear I get to use would be completely dishonest. I love gear and I love gear bags to put my gear in. Furthermore, as a food photographer I now spend a ton of time aquiring gear for that in the form of plates, flatware, glasses, and silver wear. Don’t even get me started on my sudden fascination with antique salad bowls and brightly colored and insanely expensive dutch ovens.
The following is an list of gear that I use for photographs featured on Shoot to Cook. Keep in mind that I use a lot of this stuff for photographing people too, so unless I implicitly say so, my gear is not food photography specific (and this list is in no way a full and comprehensive list of everything I use).
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 21.1MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR CameraSimply the best, moderately priced SLR that I’ve had the pleasure of using. Full frame loveliness. Buy the body only and choose a better lens than the one that comes with the kits.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras This is the lens that gets the most use in my bag for food photography. The image stabilization is awesome for shooting when slower shutter speeds are necessary.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM LensThis is my main workhorse lens that goes everywhere with me. It’s heavy and a brute, but I love it.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USMThis is an excellent lens. If you’re using a tripod, the non-IS version of this lens will work just as well. One note however, when shooting hand-held the IS features of this lens make me feel like a Yen master. No camera shake here!
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto LensAmazing depth of field at a very reasonable price.
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM LensDitto on this one. Reasonable price, excellent depth of field.
UV FiltersWhenever you buy a lens, make sure to spend a couple extra bucks on a UV filter. The main purpose of a UV filter is to protect your lens. If you drop your camera in your cookie dough, it’s a whole lot easier to clean off a UV filter than to try to clean off the expensive and easily scratched glass of your lens.
Canon RS-80N3 Remote SwitchSure you can use the timer to trigger your long exposure shots, but a remote switch is so much easier.
My studio has an insane amount of wonderful, natural light which is cheap, environmentally friendly, and did I mention cheap? The only drag is that it does get dark in the evenings here in St. Louis, so sometimes artificial light is necessary.
Profoto 1200 Pack and HeadsI’m not going to lie, these suckers are pricey. Sure there are cheaper strobe lights out there but in my experience the color consistency and reliability of Profoto gear is completely worth the price.
Profoto Beauty DishThe answer is in the name.
Photoflex 5′ Octobank Giant, beautiful soft light. This will easily double as a north-facing window light if used properly.
Photoflex Strip LightsGreat for specular highlights, backlights, and for adding a little omph to your images.
5 in 1 ReflectorYou can also use foam core, bits of paper, tin foil, pretty much anything that gets the job done. This collapses into a nice little disc though.
Adobe Photoshop CS6
A necessary evil. I try to do as much as I can in-camera since I can’t stand retouching, but sometimes you just need to bite the bullet.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4
My choice for organizing and cataloging all of my photographs. Added bonus of being able to shoot tethered, which is a huge help when shooting food. The only software I use more on a daily basis is my web browser.