I've been asked many times as to what I "shoot" with and I am always tempted to vary my answer based on the person asking the question, but since it is such a general one, I will give the most simplistic answer that I can.
When I first started out my dad gave me an Olympus E-500 and the kit lens. Soon after, I upgraded the kit lens to a Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 because naturally, I loved macro, and the reviews were excellent in regards to portrait usage. I didn't have a flash for it at the time, so it was just the E-500 and 50mm at my disposal with a 500w softbox. These pairings gave me, what I felt was one of the best photos that I took during my first year as a professional photographer.
Shortly within a month or two, my friends rallied together and put in countless hours in front of the camera so that I could practice. I soon realized that I just loved portraits and maybe that's the reason why I also love macro. It's the isolation and attention to the primary subject that I was so drawn to. Realizing that I was more sensitive to the face and expressions more than anything, I began to focus solely on the elements that I liked.
A New Tool
After about a month I looked at the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D, hearing that it was a good portrait lens. I then later sold my Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 to fund the 85mm and the D300. Since I was doing professional gigs now I thought I would upgrade to a "professional" class body. The word professional on a camera body is highly subjective, but in this case the D300 did make everything I needed to access easier, as did investing in the SB-900 to compliment the complete portrait Nikon package.
After awhile I was really missing my E-500 with 50mm f/2.0 lens. Overall, the sensor quality of the D300 was not as noisy as the E-500, but I found myself always having great light available to me because of the choices that I made. I was either outside during sunlight, had my SB-900 with me, or the studio was adequate with my old soft box and proper flash technique. Rarely going over ISO 400, sensor noise was hardly a problem.
The First Trinity
After about a year of shooting I wanted to upgrade my lens. I was ready to go for higher grade glass and possibly a zoom. Through much research I found the interesting Zuiko 35-100mm f/2.0 from Olympus. This was said to be the top of the line lens that competes directly with the Nikon and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 equivalents. The reviews for this lens were not readily available but the few images that I saw were enough for me to think it was definitely to be considered an optical masterpiece.
Given the aperture of f/2.0 on a zoom like this was unheard of. I was quite curious to find out how good, or how bad this thing was, and the only way to do so was to set out and use it. I sold all of my Nikon gear(except for my film items) to purchase the Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0 tele-zoom.
I looked across my old E-500 and called it back into service coupled with the new lens. I also sprung for the FL-50R to replace the SB-900. I don't know how to say this, and it can't be the technical specs, but this combination was a dream come true. Whether I knew it then or not, it expanded my creativity even further. I went from up to 100 shots a session to maybe 10-50 which is a very small number. Even my post processing time dropped by at least 50%. Providing me with not only better photos but also a more time efficient way to get the job done.
The Professional Kit
I eventually upgraded to an Olympus E-5 and re-purchased the Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 with the ring flash kit by trading my Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom. I married the macro kit to the trusty E-500 to give me that nice headshot package that would compliment the E-5 with the 35-100mm workhorse. Sometimes I will mix and match the combinations for a few variations like speed and color rendition. I then went on to get an additional flash pack for the high demand gigs where I needed the longer battery life for flash and quicker recycle times. These items made up my amazing kit that I kept glued to my side, from 2010-2013.
The Mirrorless Adventure
The Olmypus E-PL1 was the first mirrorless camera that I tried, thinking that this concept was one of the coolest ideas. For a small camera to deliver the same image quality I had on my E-5 was awesome. The only thing that was lacking for this new market was the lenses. I attached the old Canon FD 50mm f/1.4 on the E-PL1 and I was sold. The image quality was excellent and the Canon lens kept my ISO very low. I didn't keep the E-PL1 for long because it was still not as fast as my E-5, and didn't have any of the professional grade lenses that I needed.
After a few years the E-M5 arrived and the lens selection was huge -and only growing too! I immediately got the Lumix 25mm f/1.4 for the E-M5 and it was another amazing combination to have. I also heard that this camera body was the poor man's Leica so I got the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux to test it out. Again, the photo gods have brought me a phenomenal creative tool to which I could enjoy my portraits in a tiny package.
In less than a year I went gear crazy for mirrorless and picked up a Sony A7 with the 35mm for street photography. The Sony A7 gave my Summilux a much greater flexibility. Nikon also had the 32mm f/1.2 for portraits and I was sold!
It's been tough to go about my business projects with my traditional DSLR camera body and zoom lens because of the attention, but now I can walk around with no one looking at my gear. I still whip out the trusty E-5 sometimes, especially because it's socially accepted as a "professional" camera. But 90% of the time now I am using the mirrorless kits and I can carry all three bodies and a few lenses for a fraction of the weight. I really see mirrorless as being the future in cameras, given that in the 1980s our film cameras with three settings and no motor were still being used professionally.
Below are photos that I took with mirorrless combinations. I've been using the mirorroless cameras for projects, but I've also incorporated them now into my photoshoots. If I could give one piece of advice for anyone, it would be that practice encourages evolution! Go take photos!