A former press photographer for the UK media, Matthew James Harrison is now based in Copenhagen, focusing on action and sport photography, as well as corporate and editorial. He has shot for leading brands like Adidas, Nike and Cycling Plus Magazine.
Today, Matthew lets us take a look inside his camera bag and explains what equipment he relies on for high-action and professional photoshoots.
How do you go about deciding which gear is essential to your work?
I start from the ground up, basically. Depending on the importance of the event I always make sure I have my absolute essentials, including a Nikon D5, Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70 2.8 and Nikon 70-200 2.8. From here I start to think about the creative angles I want to achieve: Do I want flash? How many? Do I need Pocket Wizards, or tripods? Ultimately it also depends on the client’s budget and where the images will appear. These days I don’t enjoy dragging around a boat-load of gear if I’m not going to use it. Here in Copenhagen everybody cycles from A to B, so it’s not always possible to take everything with you.
Nikon D5. Quite simply, this camera is ready for anything. When it comes to shooting 100m hurdles at night, or a music festival in the middle of the afternoon in the summer, the D5 never lets me down. It’s a 21st century workhorse. I also shoot with the Nikon D800, which I hated to begin with. But once I got to know it a bit better it became my go-to camera for travelling with. It easily fits into any bag and doesn’t weigh a ton when I’m on the move.
Nikon NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED
Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22, Six Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
My Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 is ideal for a mixture of assignments, including sports and portraits. When I first started photography I remember thinking that owning one of these lenses would instantly make me a pro. Now I realise that using it helps create images that most amateurs can’t, or don’t, create because they either don’t own one or don’t really know when to use it. I teach photography workshops around Copenhagen and showing people how to use it always yields pleasing results.
Additionally, the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 is equally as important, as it stays in my bag at all times. Most scenarios are achievable when using it, and the image quality is just top-notch.
My most recent purchase is the 16-35mm, which I use sparingly for wide-angle shots. I spent four weeks in a campervan in New Zealand and it came in really handy. It’s nice to use for sports from time to time, as the client isn’t expecting it.
It’s never a bad idea to own a 50mm f1.4, which I keep in the bag for special occasions. It’s great for portraits and low-light situations, and I always forget just how great the image is until I use it again. Someone once said to me, “You don’t own a 50mm?” I couldn’t understand the fuss, until I bought one!
Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight
Compatible with Nikon i-TTL, Tilts from -7° to 90°, (Updated Version)
Nikon Speedlights: SB-910 and SB-800 (old but reliable and still going strong).
I’ve always relied heavily on these two small but powerful sources of light. During my days working for a newspaper in the UK I also carried around a Metz, which was cumbersome and heavy when attached to a battery pack. Once I became a freelancer I had to make a touch choice regarding the Metz and chose to abandon it in favor of something smaller and more flexible. Now I use them for every lighting situation, including sport and pro portraits.
It’s a new addition to the team, but this backpack is relatively light and, thanks to its wheels, gives me a break from lugging it around everywhere. When I hop off my bike it’s good to take it off my shoulders and walk with it a bit before I start shooting. Think Tank bags are the best quality and the zips last a lifetime (unlike other well-known brands).
I use 2 x Pocket Wizard Plus III for triggering my flash strobes, and I have a Nikon SC-30 cable as backup. This allows me to shoot off-camera flash, which is a must for me. I also own a very simple Manfrotto monopod, which is light and easy to use.
If you want to see more of Matthew’s action sports photography, or check out his other work from portraits to corporate, visit his website. You can also follow him on Instagram and Facebook. And, for those of you interested in starting your own photography business, read our full interview with Matthew for some tips to run a successful photography business.
Jen is Editor of PHLEARN Magazine, where she helps shape inspiring stories and handy tips for aspiring and seasoned photographers. She has worked as a photography writer for many years, contributing to numerous industry-leading publications. Proudly Canadian, wannabe globetrotter, self-taught photographer, Jen is temporarily settled in Spain.
Wildlife photographer Gerda van Schalkwyk explains how she and her husband, Wille, spent an afternoon discreetly following an African leopard in it’s native South African Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to get these beautifully intimate and candid shots.
We talk to professional product photographer Ross Floyd, who, over the past seven years, has shot over 70,000 product images. Ross recently joined Aaron Nace to shoot the new tutorial, the Ultimate Guide to Product Photography.
Which side of the Photoshop vs Lightroom debate are you on? Each one has their advantages, that’s for sure, but which one is better? We wanted to know which differences really matter, so here’s our comparison of the unique functions and uses of each.
Are your images missing something? Here are 15 quick things, from composition, lighting and post-processing tips to connecting with your model, that you can start practicing right now to improve the quality of your work and the efficiency of your shooting.
Leah Frances uses only a few vintage fixed lens cameras to capture quiet, everyday moments of life – familiar scenes that evoke feelings of nostalgia and recall some of the more idyllic perceptions of what American life is, or what it used to be.
While on a photo walk, Stevyn Durham came across this perfect UK-fashion scene and wanted to capture a stylish model to go with it. He tells us how he set about capturing a charmingly candid, high fashion shot on a London street.
In a collection of B&W photos, Matthew Genitempo gets to the core of what it’s like to live in isolation, deep in the woods of the Ozarks. His new book, Jasper, is an intimate look at the sequestered men who live in the wilderness.
Ever noticed those little balls (or shapes) of light that look like they’re dancing lightly across a photo? That’s called bokeh. It’s a beautiful effect, but there’s so much more to it than just the obvious shapes you see. This guide will show you all the amazing things you can do with bokeh in your photography.