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Fine art photographer shows us the kit she uses to bring dark fantasies to life

Canon
(Image credit: Rebecca Need-Menear)

Rebecca Need-Menear is a fine art photographer shooting multiple disciplines for clients big and small, including the BBC, Penguin Publishing, Channel 4 Box Plus and Soho Theatre, New Diorama and Kiln Theatre to name but a few. Over the past ten years she’s made a career out of balancing her two greatest passions in life; photography and music.

We recently sat down with her to find out how she got into photography, learn her tricks for photographing dark fantasy portraits as well as the essential camera kit that she couldn't live without.

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"My love of photography began in my teens, while on trips around Europe with my dad. We would set off with no particular destination in mind and he would stop when a beautiful sight captured his attention and therefore the focus of his camera. With no distractions, pointing, shooting and experimenting entertained me for weeks."

(Image credit: Rebecca Need-Menear)

"I quickly swapped landscapes for faces, finding nothing more interesting than bringing out the best in a person and finding the most intriguing look in their eye. I love the very unique interaction that takes place between a photographer and a subject. There’s a kind of crash course in how to sink into the company of another person as quickly as possible. 

"Connecting with people has always been one of the drivers of my creativity. I love the multi-faceted nature of my client work. Skipping between Edinburgh Fringe posters, to album covers, from theater productions, to porn.

"Whether the client is a major publishing house or a wedding, I enjoy shapeshifting and presenting my style through multiple genres. But my true love lies within fantasy, science fiction, horror and sci-fi. The ultimate dream is to distill sensations within visuals and soundscapes to present new worlds. I haven’t gained fulfillment yet, but I’m hoping for another 60 years of living and creating to figure it out… and hopefully I’ll find some friends along the way."

You can find more of her Rebecca's beautiful work on her Instagram (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Rebecca Need-Menear)

01. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Canon)
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"Upgrading from my Canon EOS 7D to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV was eye opening. My favorite upgrade of the 5D Mark IV is the low light performance. The high ISO32,000 is a game changer when shooting in badly-lit venues. Another personal highlight is the face detection and AF tracking when in video mode. The 7D makes a great second body, which I find essential on wedding shoots."

02. Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Canon)
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"I obsess over image sharpness, so I primarily use prime lenses, as they generally perform better than similarly priced zoom lenses. I often use continuous lighting for my personal projects and, as they don’t emit as much light as flash, the extra wide apertures of prime lenses tend to make all the difference."

03. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Canon)
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"The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is my personal favorite lens. The standard focal length of 50mm is ideal for my style of portraiture, but is also wide enough to take on a wander. I love the fixed nature of prime lenses – the process of choosing a set focal length for the specific job at hand. Having the option to go down to a wide aperture of f/1.4 is also incredibly dreamy."

04. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Canon)
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"My 85mm lens is my go-to for tight headshots, again it’s a prime lens with amazing image quality and a wide aperture that works well in low light. I will shoot as wide as the light will allow me, for the blurriest backgrounds. Another brilliant bonus of prime lenses is that they’re incredibly light. Minimizing fatigue when on a long-shoot days is a must for me."

05. Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4 DG HSM

(Image credit: Rebecca Need-Menear)
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"I call this my 'wild card' lens and will sometimes bring it out when I'm working with musicians and comedians. I enjoy shooting incredibly close to the subject with the wide 17mm end of the zoom which creates long, distorted and out of proportion limbs. I don’t shoot with a wide-angle lens too often so this is perfect for me as it didn’t break the bank."

06. Neewer NW-860 TX/RX

(Image credit: Neewer)
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"I’ve always enjoyed transforming into different characters through my portrait work, even more so during lockdowns, with no one else to photograph, I felt driven to use myself as a tool. This shutter release is the most reliable and hardy trigger I’ve ever used. It’s survived countless drops and has a long battery life – an absolute must for anyone wanting to experiment with self portraiture."

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Dan Mold
Dan Mold

The Technique Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 8 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor on Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo


Indeed, Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods and, of course, editing software.