What’s In Your Kit? with Alice Gao

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alice Gao is a photographer from New York whose work I’ve been following for many years. I first discovered Alice on flickr and was so pleased to see her launch a blog a couple of years back. Her photography is filled with gorgeous light, warm tones and textures, and she has the ability to make you want to live in the world she shoots. Alice shoots lifestyle, weddings, portraits and food. Her food images are shot in a way that makes you feel like you’re right there at the table with her and they’re constantly making me drool. You can find her work in the gorgeous Kinfolk Magazine and on Serious Eats.

Her instagram feed is one of the most popular ones around and she’s one of my faves. If the photographer can shoot images with an iphone that are just as beautiful as those shot with a DSLR, then they are serious talent. Check her out!

Take her away, Alice…


MB: What are your cameras of choice and why?

Alice: iPhone 4S – This has become my go-to carry around camera. It is always on me and perfect for my everyday snapshot (not to mention the addiction and draw of Instagram!). I’ve actually been kinda curious about doing a client shoot entirely on the iPhone, but I don’t think the client would appreciate that. :P
Canon 5D MKii – I’ve got two of these babies and use them on almost every shoot. I still remember that “ahhhhhh moment” (angels singing) when I switched to full-frame after years of using a Canon Rebel. 
Contax 645 – Medium format bliss. Enough said. 

MB: What are your favourite lenses to work with and why?

Alice: I am married to my Canon 50mm f1.2 lens and likewise the 80mm for the Contax system. That focal length is just perfect for me, because it’s how I see the world and how I compose things in my head anyway. The 80mm Zeiss lens on the Contax produces some seriously beautiful bokeh. Sometimes to travel more lightly, I’ll swap my 50mm f1.2 for the 50mm f1.4. It’s like 1/5 the cost of the 1.2 and still a wonderful lens.

MB: What equipment do you prefer to use to shoot portraits?

Alice: I like both the 85mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.2 for portraits. And if I’m shooting film, then definitely the Contax and the 80mm.

MB: Name a camera that you just love to have fun with and why.

Alice: I do love my Polaroid SLR680. It’s so fragile so I don’t take her out much, but I am seriously gleeful when I do use it. Sadly I have quickly gone through my packs of original Polaroid film and not quite willing to shell out the current eBay prices for them.

MB: What do you carry your equipment in?

Alice: It depends. For simple shoots, I just use a camera insert like this one and stuff it in one of my normal day bags. I like big bags, so this insert fits nicely in just about all of them. That way I’m not walking around screaming, “I am carrying a camera bag with lots of expensive equipment inside!”
Otherwise I use a Think Tank Retrospective 10. Not exactly glamorous but man can you pack a lot in there. For weddings and bigger shoots, I tote around my equipment in a pretty serious looking Pelican case.

MB: Is there one piece of equipment that you would recommend to a newbie shooter?

Alice: I’m totally biased, but I almost always recommend a 50mm lens to newbie shooters. Skip the kit lens and opt for the 50mm. Also, I’m a firm believer that the best camera is the one you have with you. For instance, think of the iPhone as more than a device for texting and checking twitter. Even if you just practice with your phone’s camera, you’ll still be practicing finding good light, composition, etc.

MB: Name one place you would love to travel to with your favourite camera and why.

Alice: Paris with my Contax! Mostly I am dreaming of the light hitting the buildings and small alley ways, the Eiffel Tower in black and white film, the bread… Lucky for me, I’m going this week. (Alice has actually already been to Paris and returned- check out her blog for Frenchie photographs-Amanda)

Thanks so much for sharing your kit with us, Alice. I think I may need to come around and steal all of it!

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What’s In Your Kit? with Jen Causey

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jennifer Causey is a Brooklyn based photographer who shoots weddings, kids, food and lifestyle. Well known for her love of breakfasts, Jen keeps us salivating over eggs and bagels on her blog, Simply Breakfast. I think Jen somes up her work with the titles of her blogs. Her work is simply beautiful. You can really get a sense of her character and passions through her photographic style. In my opinion, being able to do that makes for a brilliant photographer. Jen’s style seems effortless and natural, always classic and full of grace. I love that her love of the simple life is so apparent in her work.

Jennifer’s photography has been featured in publications such as Applique Your Way for Chronicle Books, Lines and Shapes’ most recent Brooklyn Diary, Real Simple and Edible Manhattan. You can have your own little piece of Jen’s world with her book, Simply Paris. I asked her about her equipment choices for the latest What’s In Your Kit? feature. Thank you, Jen!

MB: What are your cameras of choice and why?

Jen: I recently purchased a Canon 5d mark II, so I have been shooting with that a lot. I also like to shoot film with my Mamiya 645 and my Nikon 35mm 8008. I wish I had a Leica M6.

MB: Which are your favourite lenses to work with and why?

Jen: My favorite lens is a 50mm 1.4 for the Canon and a 90mm for the Mamiya. I also sometimes use a 35mm, 85mm, and I have a 24-105 zoom.

MB: What equipment do you prefer to use to shoot portraits?

Jen: For portraits, I usually use the zoom to get a variety of focal lengths or the 85mm.

MB: Name a camera that you just love to have fun with.

Jen: I love the Diana and the Holga. You never know what you are going to get, which makes it a wonderful surprise when you get magic.

MB: What do you carry your equipment in?

Jen: If I am carrying a lot, I use a rolling suitcase, otherwise my purse for on the go/everyday shooting.  I also have a Tenba bag when I am just carrying a few items.

MB: Is there one piece of equipment that you would recommend to a newbie shooter?

Jen: Any type of SLR, film if possible (set to manual), then move over to digital. I think learning the basics on film is important to learn and see the magic that is photography.

Thanks so much for joining us at Mocking Bird today, Jennifer! Check out more of Jen’s beautiful work at her website, blog and flickr.

Check out all the What’s In Your Kit interviews on their new special page!

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Interviewed on Shutter Sisters

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What a lovely way to wake up; sleepy Sunday morning, sunshine and an interview on Shutter Sisters.

The lovely Irene interviewed me for the Shutter Sisters six questions. She asked me all sorts of questions about my photography and life as a photographer. You can read it here. Thanks so much, Irene!

Speaking of photography (when don’t I?), there has been an arrival of more Springtime goodness in the print store. Check out these blossoming beauties and this magnolia above. I’d love to send you out a pretty, Springtime package. I can also do those prints as 5 x 7. Send me an email or etsy conversation if you’re interested.

I hope you’re all having an enjoyable Sunday. I had a 30th last night and am having dinner at one awesome chef’s house tonight followed by the Spoon gig. How has your weekend been?

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Photographer Spotlight

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The lovely Nicolle has posted an interview with me for her Photographer Spotlight feature.


She says some lovely things. :)

Check out her flickrstream (where you can see the shot above), she has some great stuff and beautiful Polaroids. Thanks Nicolle!

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