Uses This

1281 interviews since 2009

A picture of Rachel Demy

Rachel Demy


in mac, photographer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a documentary photographer living and working in Seattle, WA. My previous career as a tour manager for bands helped me move seamlessly into documenting tours and I've been shooting live music since I was a teenager. But beyond just music photography, I do a lot portraiture, landscapes and travel as well. I'm dabbling in studio photography but it doesn't quite move me the way a more off-the-cuff documentary style does. I also sell prints of my work (both digital and darkroom prints) so I'm pretty obsessed with doing all that myself. I love having control over every part of my process, from inception to physical medium. I have even printed and bound my own books.

What hardware do you use?

When I travel excessively, the camera I reach for the most is my (digital) Leica M240 with a Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 lens. The last thing I usually want to do is cart a bunch of gear around the world and plead with airport security to please not x-ray my film, especially if there's a language barrier. But if I have the bandwidth to deal with that, I will bring a huge bag of film and either my Leica MP or my trusty old Pentax K1000, both of which I use equally. If I know that I want to simply focus on light and texture, I will bring my Leica Monochrom, a dedicated black-and-white digital camera. My other 2 lenses are a Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 lens and a Leica Summicron 75mm f/2.4 lens. My Pentax K1000 has an Asahi-Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lens that never, ever comes off except for cleaning purposes. I recently picked up a Bronica 645 to better dig into medium-format portraiture but I'm still kind of working that into the rotation.

I can't say enough good things about using prime lenses. There are times when a zoom is called for, but I really enjoy the challenge of getting my body physically involved with my art. If I could only pick one prime lens, it would be my 35mm or 50mm.

As far as non-camera hardware is concerned, I have a MacBook Pro and an Apple 27" LED display at home. I scan negatives on an Epson V600. I print the majority of my work on a 24" Epson SureColor 6000 printer.

When I travel and I don't have a deadline, I can usually get away with only bringing my 12.5" iPad Pro and a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, used in conjunction with Lightroom and a not-always-reliable internet connection. I like to travel light.

And what software?

I do 95% of my processing and printing in Adobe Lightroom. They have a really intuitive print module and since I usually try to get my shots the way I want them in-camera, I don't require many of the super powerful tools Photoshop offers. I will clean dust and scratches off my film images in Photoshop and if I need to print extremely large, there are a number of great plugins that work better in Photoshop than Lightroom. But considering the volume of what I shoot, I enjoy the organization and archival interface of Lightroom so much more than Bridge. When I finally figured out how to use Collections in LR, my whole (archival) world blew wide open.

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly, I couldn't want for anything else at the moment. I am not a huge gear nerd nor do I collect just to collect. I have the gear I have because as I learned more about photography and how I shoot, I found the tools that best work for me. My Leicas are powerful but simple and with beautiful glass. They feel like extensions of my own body. I don't need much more than that! The second people want to get into the super technical side of gear, I kind of glaze over. For me, if it's not useful, I don't use it. And if my photography evolves and suddenly I need to know everything possible about megapixels? I'll totally do it. But not a second before that moment.