From The Shower Series, an ongoing project in which Sharma invites subjects to take a shower in her bathroom—a project she says has sparked inspiringly fast and disarming relationships.
What’s in your camera bag?
Nikon D800, Nikorr 24-70mm 2.8, an old Canon G9 for snapshots, a mix of CF and SD Cards, a notepad, pens, Sharpies, a few promos I stash on the bottom of the bag, business cards, ID’s and money that go in my trustee VHS Cassette tape wallet, a Nikon battery charger, extra battery, a smartphone for directions. My Nikorr 50mm 1.4 and Nikon Speedlight SB-800 are on loan to a friend, but they usually tag along for the ride.
What is the one thing you would advise a photographer to carry with them at all times? A notepad is key because ideas are like vapor—you’ve got to trap them and ink them down. I also try to keep a micro-fiber cloth around to clean the gook off my lens.
What’s in your bag that is specific to the type of work you shoot? It is important for me to have a camera that has low digital noise especially when shooting The Shower Series—there are a lot of dark corners and with the contrast being sharp, we can go from very bright to very dark rather quickly. The D800 handles noise exceptionally well. While the shower portraits are dominantly shot in available light, I do keep a SB-800 around for a reason. Sometimes I’ll rig it on a stand, zoom the flash in pretty narrow, dial the power down to its lowest, and then if I make a little tin foil snoot and place it on it, it adds a very subtle highlight to those frozen water drops you see in the picture.
What’s the most unusual item in your camera bag? Used to be a hair ties! They would find a way to cushion themselves under my Billngham’s padding, but now every once in a while I’ll find a little ducky sticker stuck to my strap from my two-year-old’s shenanigans.
What can’t you live without? If you have no media cards you’ve got nothing but a really heavy camera bag that’s useless.
Any tricks for packing light, space-saving techniques? I think it helps to commit to a lens or two so you aren’t carrying unnecessary glass around.
Any makeshift, homemade items you’ve crafted over the years? I made a pinhole camera out of one of those Dominos salt cylindrical containers a while ago. I would carry a dark bag around and stick 4×5 black and white negative film in it. It was a funny looking thing, but it exposed beautifully. I should pull that thing out of the closet.