(Written in 2016, before I shot all film)
I get lots of questions about what I shoot with, my favorite lenses, my gear backpack, and my overall gear choices. So I decided to put it all together here for you! I’ll start with my digital gear, then show you my film gear as well! The photo above shows pretty much everything I use (with a few exceptions like my tripod, but those exceptions are all listed below).
M Y D I G I T A L G E A R
This is all the gear I have and use for weddings and personal work. Everything shown below fits into my backpack and I carry it for all my weddings. I set my backpack down whenever I can, during prep, ceremony and reception, but for the most part I have it on me at all times.
Two Canon 5D Mark IVs : At weddings I carry one on each shoulder using my Holdfast Money Maker Strap. I usually have a wide lens on one and a longer on the other. I used to use Mark IIIs, but switched for the Mark IV last year and I love it. The ISO alone was worth the switch for me, since I shoot at really high ISOs pretty often.
L E N S E S:
I bring 5 lenses to all weddings and use them all at almost every wedding. The only lens that sometimes doesn’t get used is the 135mm, and I’ll explain why below. To give you an idea of how much each lens is used, I went through a few recent weddings and figured out the percentages. From all photos I deliver, on average, here are the percentage taken with each lens:
24mm – 30-35%
35mm – 15-20%
50mm – 30-35%
85mm – 10% (sometimes 20%)
135mm – 10% (sometimes 0%)
Obviously every wedding is different and these numbers are an average from lots of variability. But overall, I think they demonstrate my general lens patterns. Here are some more detailed explanations of each lens and when I use them.
I’ve started using this lens a LOT more lately, and I’m loving it. It probably stays on one of my cameras for most of the day at a wedding. It really allows me to get a wide scene with lots of things happening, without it feeling too overwhelming. It gives the feel of actually being there, because of how wide it is and how much it encompasses. I’ve loved the documentary feel I get from it, and since I got this lens, I’ve used my 35mm a lot less. And as far as the wide angle distortion, it doesn’t bother me at all! In fact, I prefer to embrace it!
Before I got the 24mm, I used my 35mm for almost 50% of all images taken at weddings. I still LOVE it, but I use it less now. I love it for the ceremony and details, and I use it to establish setting and mood with shots from far away and close up. For couple portraits I use it for the shots that feel intimate and close, when the 24mm is just a little too wide. For the reception, I use it for all my dance floor shots with a flash.
This is another favorite of mine. It allows me to capture a more intimate feel for portraits, without forcing me to get too close, which is super important when I want to let the couple have a little more space to themselves. It also offers a separation that removes distracting backgrounds for a cleaner look, and tighter feel.
I use this lens throughout the day, depending on the space and setting. If space allows, I use it some for prep, because I like getting candid moments from far away so I’m not in people’s faces. For portraits, I use it when I want to compress the image and bring something in the background closer, like a mountain, landscape or sunset. I also use it for the first look, so I can give the couple some time alone while shooting from farther away. On average, I use it for about 25-30% of couple portraits. And if the ceremony space is small and intimate, I use it for ceremony (instead of the 135mm)
I use this lens pretty much exclusively for ceremonies. It lets me get close-up emotional moments with tears and laughter, without having to be up-front and center in the aisle. If the ceremony space is small and intimate, and I’m forced to be really close, I’ll use the 85mm instead.
C A M E R A B A G S
ONA Brixton: I use this one for couple sessions when hiking isn’t required. It fits my two bodies with 3-4 lenses.
Poler Excursion Pack with Camera Insert: I’ve gone through a lot of camera bags and this is by far my favorite. I use it at weddings as well as on hikes and camping trips. Unfortunately Poler discontinued the backpack, so you can’t purchase it anymore.
The Poler Excursion Pack packed with all my wedding gear.
F L A S H E S
Two Canon 580 EX II Speedlites – I use these for dance floor shots. I shoot them zoomed in a little for a slight vignette, and point them straight at the dancers. I usually drag the shutter.
O T H E R A C C E S S O R I E S
Holdfast Money Maker Strap: I wear it for most of the day at all my weddings. From the beginning of prep up to the beginning of dancing. Once I know that the only thing left in the day is dancing, I take the cameras off of it and just carry around one body with a 35mm on the Holdfast Wrist Strap. I don’t use it for couple sessions unless we’re going on a hike and I want to have easy access to two cameras quickly. But for the most part my couple sessions are more slow paced.
Holdfast Wrist Strap: I use this at weddings for dance floor shots, when I no longer need to have two cameras easily accessible. It lets me stick my hand in everywhere to get those spontaneous dance shots without fearing losing my camera to party people! I also use it sometimes on couple sessions or personal shoots.
Think Tank AA Battery Holder – To keep batteries and backups.
Eneloop AA Batteries – Rechargeable batteries for my flashes (plus the charger).
Ruggard Memory Card Case – Keeps all my CF and SD cards together.
Waterproof Rain Cover – A plastic sleeve for my camera in case it rains. I use it if its really pouring, light drizzle doesn’t bother me.
Clif Bar -I always keep a snack in my bag for long wedding days
MeFOTO Travel Tripod – I use this for self portraits, its small and easy to carry.
M Y F I L M G E A R
Film was the first thing I ever shot with in college, but after that I moved to digital and I’m only now getting back into film again. I’m not a pro with film by any means, but I really love experimenting with it. I used to mostly use it for personal work, but I’ve been integrating it into my couple sessions and loving the results. I’ve especially enjoyed instant film lately.
Polaroid Land Camera 195 – I love this one a lot, but the film has been discontinued, so I try to use it sparingly. It’s one my favorites though!
Fujifilm FP-100C – Instant color film for the Polaroid Land Camera. It was very recently discontinued so I use it less now.
Fujifilm FP-3000B – Instant black and white film for the Polaroid Land Camera. This film is now very hard to find.
Disposable Cameras – I love experimenting with these!
Fujifilm Klasse W – I recently purchased this camera just for fun personal trips and travel, and so far I’m loving it!
Fujifilm Instax Wide – I purchased this recently to play around, and love using it for fun personal shots and some couple photos.
Lomo’Instant Wide – I also love using this one for couple sessions as well as personal fun travel photos.
Instax Mini 90 – I love how tiny this camera is! I mostly use it for fun, but also for couple sessions.
Update: I no longer have or use the Contax, the Polaroid 600 or the Canon AE-1. We got rid of then when we downsized to live in a van.
These were taken with the Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 400. To see a little more film work, see my editorial site HERE
That’s all, thanks for stopping by! These are all my tools now, but I’m sure I’ll be adding to my tool box as I go. If you have any questions or would like to know more, don’t be shy and comment below! Hope this was helpful!
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