So I’ve thought about writing a post every now and then for other photographers that read the blog (if that’s you, then leave a comment or drop me a line to say hey!). God has blessed me far beyond my imagination in my first official year in business with some amazing opportunities and clients. He’s also blessed me with other photographers who have gone far out of their way to help me, stretch me, and encourage me along the way and for them I’m extremely grateful. These guys and gals have been awesome for passing along their knowledge/experiences and their friendship is invaluable to me. My hope is that I can return the generosity they’ve shown me to at least one other person! I’m in NO way an expert and as such these posts will not in any way attempt to convey that thought, however I am always learning in any way I can and experimenting for myself so they will convey what I do know…which may or may not be a whole lot, I suppose we’ll see! With that said, I’ve started to get a few more questions lately asking about my gear, workflow, techniques, etc. so I figured this was the perfect time to start my new “for photographers” posts. To kick things off, I thought I’d answer a question that I’ve gotten a few times before for the gearheads out there – what’s in my bag?
This camera changed so much of my work. My first DSLR was a Canon 40D and I loved it. I learned on that camera, started my business on that camera, and it gave me some of my favorite images. I doubt I’ll ever get rid of it because I’m sentimental like that and it holds value with me. I still even pull it out for random shoots where I need that little bit of extra focal length. However, the 5D Mark II opened up so many new possibilities. I don’t think I could go back to a crop sensor in my main camera again. The images are so clean, the low-light capabilities are incredible, I can do anything I want with the large file sizes it creates…I could go on and on. The only real negative I have to say about it is that those large, beautiful files chew up my hard drives faster than I can turn around. But in the end, hard drives aren’t THAT expensive anymore and my vote goes towards final image quality anyday – so is it really a negative?? You decide.
If you like wide shots, like really wide shots, then this thing rocks. It’s sharp and I love how I can get an entire room or scene in one shot. Definitely not a typical portrait lens, but I think it’s really cool for big environmental portraits to give a different feel.
This lens is always within arms reach. It’s the perfect midrange zoom for just about anything. It’s almost always on one of my cameras on a wedding day because of its ability to go wide and then immediately go in pretty tight at the drop of a hat. It’s also great for bridal portraits and engagement sessions too just because of its versatility. It’s a staple for me.
I’m speechless for this one. It’s my baby (well, second to Katie of course ). I LOVE this lens. It was my first lens in Canon’s L-series and I was hooked from day one. While the 16-35 and the 24-70 are awesome and I use them constantly, my style of shooting and this lens just go hand in hand, skipping through green pastures to a perfectly laid out picnic on a fall afterno…uhh, I digress. But seriously, this is my favorite lens because the images it produces are just killer. Longer focal lengths have more compression in their images and for me, I love that look. (Notice a theme with this one??) There’s something about the focal range and whatever magic fairy dust that Canon threw into the mix when they made this thing that I’m just obsessed with. Photographers talk about lenses that helped define their style – well…
The first prime lens I ever bought. My 40D came with a 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 and it was a great starter lens. But soon after, I got this little gem and realized what it was like to have a fixed aperture lens, and one that went down to 1.4 was just icing on the cake. It taught me how to make use of shallow depth of field and to start working a little harder to frame my images in new ways. This lens only got better once I got the 5D Mark II with a full frame sensor. 50mm is one of my favorite focal lengths because it’s a normal lens (i.e. it views just about the way your eye does). And for the price, you just can’t beat this lens. Also a staple wedding day lens – especially for details, low-light “getting ready” shots, and just about anything else you can think of.
Mmhmm…so this is a new one for me. So after all that raving about my 70-200, this piece of glass is giving it a run for its money. Remember that whole compression thing? Shooting it wide open takes a little getting used to but it’s borrowed some of that magic fairy dust from earlier. I debated for a long time whether or not to invest in this one but the time finally came and I’m glad it did. It does focus a little slower than my other L lenses but the result is well worth it. It’s also a little heavy, but I happen to like that – that may be cool for you, maybe not. It’s a tack sharp piece of glass at a focal length that I love and I’m thrilled to start putting it to work.
It’s all in the details. This lens doesn’t get a whole lot of use but for its purpose, it’s golden. It just lets me get images that I can’t get with other lenses. Rings, dresses, flowers – they all get the treatment with this.
Definitely an essential for wedding photography. Let’s just face it – a significant portion of weddings are at night and/or indoors and this flash is a workhorse. I’m also a huge fan of off-camera light, particularly on fashion and bridal shoots and sometimes engagement sessions. I have other strobes for off-camera lighting but putting a speedlight on a stand somewhere is pretty cool too.
**The next two guys aren’t directly camera related, but are clutch for me so I thought I’d include them as well…
Professional photographers live and die by their images and how they’re managed. We (hopefully) put a lot of time and thought into how we organize our images and back them up. I love being able to leave a wedding, or any other shoot for that matter, with my cards already backed up for a little extra insurance. There are several options for location backup but this is what works best for me. My Colorspace is basically a 160gb laptop hard drive (user-replaceable) with a CF card slot on top (no separate card reader needed) that lets me simply pop in a card, choose “full backup” on the screen, and my images start backing up. I can even view the images once they’re backed up if I choose.
Now, let me explain the cons of this device and then why I still love it. As far as user interfaces go, it’s not so great. It runs off of an old C-drive interface that’s pretty slow and downright archaic in usability considering all the technology that surrounds our gadget-filled lives. The screen doesn’t really look great for viewing images; I’d rather scroll through them on my camera’s screen. If you want a similar device that has a better screen, smoother interface, and sexier design, I’d go with an Epson P-6000 or p-7000. HOWEVER, the Colorspace has the fastest backup rate of any similar device out there (at least at the time of my purchase), a user-interchangeable laptop hard drive, the battery lasts forever, and my version is currently $156 cheaper for twice the amount of hard drive space! So since the only thing I really use it for is fast location backup, the Colorspace rocks.
If you spend your time shooting outdoors (and fighting to see your camera’s screen in the sunlight to review an image)…at all…you’ll love having a Hoodloupe. If you’ve ever looked through an old loupe at a slide or anything else, you know that it’s pretty cool for seeing that small image clearly and magnified. The Hoodloupe is exactly that for your camera’s screen. All you do is put the end of it up against the screen and look through the eyepiece and BAM – the sunlight is blocked out, allowing you to clearly see your image no matter what else is shining around you. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve had clients or other photographers ask me what this was hanging around my neck, I show them, and I hear, “Ohhh, that’s really cool! What’s that called and where do I get one?”
Wow – if you’re still reading, I’m flattered. I hope that if you are still here at this point that you’ve gotten something from it in some way. However, while these things are definitely cool and they have some incredible uses, they are not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to be good at the craft of photography. In other words – all these cameras, lenses, etc. are just tools. Tools are not effective unless you know how to properly use them.