On Finding The Right Tools For The Job

October 20, 2016

Dark and moody Artful Desperado

artful desperado

(oh hey that’s me!)

Hi all! How are you doing? Sippin’ the last bits of that pumpkin spice latte? Or if you are like me and don’t like them at all, sippin’ on an old fashioned..cuz you know, cozy cocktails in fall and winter are the way go to. Today I wanted to talk to you about choosing the right tools for the job, that is, styling and photography. In my previous posts I chatted about resetting my creative process and exploring other art forms as a way to gather new ideas – heck – I even went to Copenhagen to learn how to cook Nordic food!

In this post I’ll give you a quick glimpse into my go-to’s when it comes to equipment – it’s not a full list or I’ll have to break down in several posts, but it’ll give you an idea of what I use on the daily.

artful desperado

Archiving Inspiration

So first comes the inspiration process where we set our vision – we all love gathering inspiration from everywhere we go, but all of that info, inspo, and ideas have to go somewhere and they have to produce an end product (photo, design, whatever you create) and you need the right tool for it. In my case I need a laptop that’s light since I can’t seem to stay still for long – and for me that’s the Spectre, more the features and things I’ve done with it so far in a bit. For now, all I need to say is that archiving inspiration is SUPER important to get your creative process started. You need to set a goal and you need a reference to guide your work or you’ll have very inconsistent results.

As I said, you need the right tools to get the job done or you’ll get frustrated before you even start! So let’s talk about camera, lenses, and all.

artful desperado

artful desperado

Camera and Lenses

artful desperado

It goes without saying that the most important tool for me (and us in the food and photography world) is my camera. I currently use a Canon 6D and I have 3 main lenses: 35mm Sigma art 1.4, 50mm 1.4 Canon, and 100mm 2.8 Canon. All prime (means, they don’t zoom). This is a personal preference – prime lenses tend to be sharper than zoom, but it honestly depends on what you do. I have friends that have to swap constantly between taking shots of interiors to portraits so a zoom lens would be more fitting for them.

Here’s what each of these lenses do for me:
– 35mm: good for not-too-wide room shots and a good “carry around” lens. Beautiful bokeh. Great for lifestyle shots and all of those long table photos shot from above.
– 50mm: awesome for portraits and pretty much everything else. If you can only get one lens I would start with this one. Love using it for somewhat tight scenes where you want to get a few elements in the photo but not the whole scene.
– 100mm: this is a macro lens and really gets in there. I use this ALL the time, especially with food since you want to capture the “yum” factor oozing out of the dishes. It’s also awesome for landscape photos, yes you heard it right. It flattens the image better and has more detail I feel. Also has super awesome bokeh and can help eliminate distractions in the background by focusing in the subject.

In my case I usually stick with lifestyle and still life scenes so I don’t have to constantly move and my camera is most likely attached to a tripod (I use the Manfrotto 057 legs with the 410 junior head, best combo in my opinion).

For traveling I use the Fujifilm X100T and leave all my heavy gear at home. It’s a cropped sensor, but it’s easy to carry and takes fantastic photos.

Bonus: below you can see my rolling styling kit which is my “on-the-go” buddy. I stash a few things in there like Qtips, spray bottle, tweezers, and small scissors – tools that are super helpful to have around, plus it rolls nicely and I can put it in my bag without hassle. OH and buy yourself a bonsai trimmer, those things are great to cut little leaves and herbs and trim any punk pieces of food that stick out.

Computer / Work Horse

artful desperado


All those photos need to be edited somewhere and my business needs to be attended to; invoices need to be sent, clients need to be contacted, etc. So I decided to do a mix of both, powerful with sleek and light. Cue: the HP Spectre. The Spectre has become my new travel companion and “mobile office”. At home I still have my other big clunky computer which is only used for storage and major crazy editing – but for everything else my go-to is the Spectre.

My top two favourite features of the HP Sepctre are the design: sleek, modern, and monochromatic, because you gotta look good when you’re on the go! Am I rite, girl? It also matches everything else in my house so when it’s out on my coffee table it’s not like “oh look! There’s a computer in there!” you know? It ain’t an eye sore! The other feature I love is how freaking light it is! When I’m carrying a camera, plus lenses, plus hard drive, and a bunch of other stuff it totally helps to have a light laptop that won’t drag you down. Every little bit helps! That’s why I choose the Canon camera that’s lighter but powerful, same with this computer.


As you can see my theme here is being able to move around without having to carry 2000 pounds of equipment with you. That’s why I cannot tell you how important it is to really do an inventory check on your current equipment decide what works and what needs to be tossed or upgraded. Just as you would edit your life and get rid of things you don’t need, you should do the same for your creative process, and includes being light as a feather and fast as a hungry hippo.

Let me know if you guys have any questions on the HP Spectre or my overall equipment! I’d be more than happy to share what my other tools are.

Post created in partnership with HP. All views my own.

Thank you to Joey Armstrong for snapping those photos of me!


  • Gavin

    Great post. Like the focus on minimalism and packing light! Cheers!

  • Nicole

    Hi Gabriel

    For someone that doesn’t take photos professionally but needs a camera for blogging, instagram, life stuff. Do you think it’s worth getting the Fujifilm X100T and selling my DSLR? I’ve been contemplating the idea a lot lately, very curious about that camera!
    Thanks for sharing! <3

    • Gabriel

      Hi Nicole! The Fuji is pretty versatile in my opinion, the only “drawback” is that you cannot change the lens on it (it’s a 35mm lens). The 35mm lens in the fuji works for lots of things tho, from tight shots to something wider like a landscape. If you really don’t want to deal with changing lenses, carrying a big camera, and having something with you for everyday stuff I say the fuji is a great starter.

  • Jason

    Great post, thank you. I’m in the market for a full frame camera and was set on the 5d but am now considering the 6d. I shoot the same subject matter you do. Aside from weight and size, what else made you choose the 6 over the 5?

    • Gabriel

      Hi Jason! For me it came down to weight mostly since I’m traveling lots. Mind you, once you attach some heavy lens sometimes it’s almost the same haha. Another factor for me was the price – I’ll eventually upgrade to the 5, but for now the 6 is perfect. Mind you, I don’t really shoot video – the 6D has an OK quality for video (is great but not as good as the 5). If you’re thinking of shooting video maybe the 5 is better. Another good thing about the 6 is that the quality of super high ISO is really good (low light conditions) and when you travel or are on the go u can’t always have lights so u gotta use high ISO that doesn’t yield lots of noise. If your budget is pretty loose, then I’d go for the 5 just because it has all the bells and whistles, but if you’re a bit more modest with your budget, then the 6 is perfect (been using it for almost 2 years now, total work horse).

  • Susan

    Thanks for some amazing inspiration! color, content, tastes, thoughts! I’d comment on your weather but, it’s a bit ago so I hope you’ve warmed up now. Here in rich Phoenix West Valley we have temp swings that keep us on our toes. We don’t have have as much concrete, etc. as they have nearby in the ‘burbs. We are on dirt w/trees & lots of lovely growing things & wild birds (baby birds in their cozy nest above our back door) & small animals finding tasty morsels to eat. Enjoy your urban energy & I hope to find more inspiration when I visit your site again.

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