Digital Camera Buying Guide for Fashion Photography: Recommendations by Tony Ryan

Lighting and digital cameras used and recommended by professional fashion & nude photographer Tony Ryan

Lighting and digital cameras used and recommended by professional fashion & nude photographer Tony Ryan

Blessed with a natural ability to see beauty and the talent to capture it, Australian photographer Tony Ryan set out in 1989 to take on a career he had always dreamed of. Beginning as a model, Ryan was immersed into the world of photography and decided to take on this new passion, becoming an entirely self-sufficient nude and fashion photographer by 1995. He is best known for specializing in the curves of the body and is able to capture authenticity and beauty in his photos with complete class. Though, the ability to produce such lovely images is greatly due to practice, talent, observation, and inspiration, Tony Ryan suggests gear that can make the process easier and more pleasurable.

Ryan’s Equipment:

Influenced by photographers he worked with in the past, Tony Ryan has always been a Nikon user. His go-to camera is a Nikon D200 with an 80-200 mm lens though he also likes to experiment with an old Hassleblad. With his Nikon, he usually shoots on full zoom in order to create an effect with a blurred background. He also sometimes uses a 20 mm zoom lens to create a more abstract effect.

To capture beautiful curves, lighting is an extremely important feature for Ryan in his photography. To achieve the light he wants, Ryan first and foremost uses abundant natural light in his studio. This light is filtered with early 1900 factory glass, producing a unique and stunning effect. In addition to this, he uses four Mole Richardson 2k tungsten heads as well as two flash heads.

Ryan’s Recommendations:

Ryan is a big believer that the quality of a photo lies more in the eye of the photographer rather than the equipment used. Regardless, he still has some recommendations for basic equipment to capture photos similar in style to his. First off, a reliable camera is most crucial and he suggests something anywhere in the $2-3k range. As important as a good camera, is good lighting and for this he recommends the same equipment he uses himself. Mole Richardson headlamps work effectively indoors and he recommends equipment as simple as a large beach umbrella to diffuse outdoor light.

“My favorite light for nudes is to have the lights from behind the model at anywhere between 15 and 90%. This gives really heavy contrast and great impact.”

Ryan also recommends buying equipment second hand to save money as well as always keeping an eye out at thrift shops for old used props. Overall though, he believes just the basic equipment is sufficient and isn’t a big advocate of over the top spending on sophisticated gear.

Ideal Set of Equipment:

The items essential to Ryan’s photography are his camera, Photoshop, his tungsten lights as well as his studio. Besides these, he imagines that a larger format camera with a bigger and brighter viewing screen would benefit him greatly as well as more reflectors, scrims, and a generator to power outdoor lights. Though very “low-maintenance” in his need for equipment, when posed with the question of a “blank check”, Ryan still had some idea of gear that could greatly benefit his work.

“I suppose I would search for a tripod and head combination that gave me as much freedom as possible. I may also look to purchase a big and mobile set up to filter harsh sunlight. Then perhaps, I would look at a new digital camera.”

In general, in order to follow in the footsteps of photographer Tony Ryan, a good camera and sufficient lighting is key. With the basic equipment, the talent, and an eye for beauty, even the newest of photographers will begin to experience success in the field of nude and fashion photography.

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