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Daily Mirror staff photographer shows us his kit

Ever wondered what a press photographer uses and why? Well James Vellacott lets us in on a few secrets.

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Working as a press photographer you could be sent anywhere, to photograph anyone, at a moments notice. So you, and your kit, need to be packed and ready at all times. Here's the kit James Vellacott, Staff Photographer for the Daily Mirror carries, why he uses it and some examples of the work he's captured with it.
The kit a press photographer uses who works for the Daily Mirror
What James Vellacott, Staff Photographer for the Daily Mirror uses for his job.

London July 2005. Bomb on bus.
Long lenses help with shots like this of the Bus which was targeted by bombers in London, July 2005.
Photo by James Vellacott.
A - Thinktank Shape Shifter.
"It's a brilliant bag, you can get all your kit and laptop in it. It also fits in the overhead storage on the plane and, if you don't make it look too heavy, it usually gets through customs no problem."

B - Three main lenses: 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm image stabiliser f/2.8. Also uses the Canon 85mm f/1.2L and a 2x teleconverter.
"The 16-35mm f/2.8 lens is good for when you're outside court and you're across the street but need to get close or if you're in a media scrum. - bum fight style moment. It's also good for getting arty pictures of buildings. You can create wide-angled Broadsheet styled images. They do have converging angles but it looks good.

The 24-70mm
f/2.8 is a mid-range lens, it's a good all-rounder. You can use it for wide angle shots or quick head shots and the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is one I use quite a lot.  It kills off the background and is great for indoor portraits.

I also like the 85mm f/1.2 lens, it's the nicest one I've used. You can use it in low light, it has a low depth of field and you can use it indoors with no flash.

Prince Harry and the Queen
You can't get close on occasions like this. So a good choice of lenses is crucial.
Photo by James Vellacott.
C - Two Canon bodies and a compact camera.
"Having just one camera to rely on is never a good idea! The compact is useful when you need to photograph events you can't get cameras into."

D - Flash guns, TTL flash lead, Quantum Turbo 2x2 and a multi card reader.
"Flash guns are a must for the kit and a Quantum Q Flash is useful if you're rushing. It's an easy way to get nice lighting. You can stick it on a stand, it's  free standing, and it comes with a softbox too. It's a free standing, studio light - it's the press man's kit!

The mulit card reader is good for if you need to use other peoples cards. You could need to collect images off the public for example.

E - Laptop and to the left a Tri Flip Latolite reflector.
"In this industry speed is of the essence. I have to shoot, ring the office to tell them I have the picture and then send the images off to them almost instantly. You have to move stuff quickly and a laptop lets me do that. While the reflector is light, easy to use and simple to store."

Helicopter in Iraq
You need all your kit in one bag for jobs like this one.
Photo by James Vellacott.
F - Passport, pictures and notebook.
"You don't always have time to save and write everything on a computer. Sometimes you need to scribble a number or notes down quickly. For example, you could be on a doorstep where you're trying to find information from somebody. The passport is in the bag incase I'm asked to jump on a plane and the photos are there for when I need a pass to get in somewhere."

G - Important accessories.
"Extra batteries, leads to power the flashes and spare memory cards are all essentials. You don't want to run out of memory or power when you're out on a job! Having extras and spares is always a good idea.

I also use a Gary Fong. It costs £20 and it's a great piece of kit to have. Other people laughed at me but they're used more and more now. It's great for if I'm sent out to a one-on-one celebrity shoot and there's no time to set lights up. You put the Gary Fong - which looks like a big, white tupperware cup cake onto your flash and use a TTC lead to take the flash off the camera to bounce light around the room. It just looks so much better than direct flash as it diffuses the light. Then once you're done with it, you can sqaush it up and put it back into your kit bag.

Iraq, children
Photo by James Vellacott.
Finally, it's not on the image but James also carries a step with him. He's even carried a step-ladder to shoots before!

"Many press photographers carry single steps that fold flat so they can be carried in your bag. It's useful for when you're in a press pen or a crowd as it gives you 5in of hight that can be crucial for getting a good, clear shot. Also, If you turn-up to a shoot a little later and people have marked out their places at the front, even though you're at the back, the step means you can still get the picture."

If you want to know more about press photography take a look at how Jame's covered the London Marathon or how the Daily Mirror works a fashion shoot. If you want to know more about him take a look at James Vellacott's interview with ePHOTOzine or check out his Daily Mirror Blog.
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User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
16 Jun 2009 8:09PM
James - the last image in this piece... the two small boys looking up and into the eyes the soldier...

A very moving and powerful image.

My compliments.
digipix76 15 577 England
16 Jun 2009 8:49PM
Agree with Mike, A fantastic shot.

HectorRivera 15 17 1 United States
18 Jun 2009 2:17PM
Tha shot of the two boys and the Soldier is realy a great shot.
19 Jun 2009 7:08PM
Very good... but being a press photographer myself. I would expect that the most informative section should be about the cameras them selves???? Only one paragraph on three cameras???? would that be because they are amature bodies???? seems strange...


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