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What’s In My Bag

I often get asked about what equipment I use, whether from perspective clients or new photographers wondering what equipment they should invest in.  When Igot my first dSLR camera in college, I had no idea what lenses I wanted, needed, or what specific lenses were even used for.  I would spend hours at the local camera store just shopping around and asking a billion questions.  I was talked into my first lens right before heading to Uganda, Africa for the summer.  I knew I’d be going on safari at some point during the trip, and wanted something that would zoom well.  It was a Tamron 18-200mm lens.  And it served me well for 2 years before I started feeling a void in the kind of photographs I was able to take.  I desperately wished I knew a photographer who could just give me the secret code for what lens to get. So thats why I want to share what’s in my gear bag, in hopes that it’ll help someone somewhere along the line in figuring out what lens might work for them.  

So that there is my lens arsenal.  We’ll go from left to right.  50mm 1.4-  This is the first prime or fixed lens I bought.  It’s served my brilliantly well, and its still one of my favorite lenses to use for family portraits.  Its wide enough to capture what my eye sees, and I can get fairly close to my subject.  And the 1.4 aperture is just buttery soft. In fact, I like it so much that my husband and I both have one to use for weddings.  35mm 1.8-  This is an awesome lens, and was my favorite before I invested in a full frame camera.  Its nice and wide without really distorting much, and its a fast lens, and all of the pictures I took with it just turned out so pretty.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with my new Nikon d600 camera, so its been passed on to be used by my husband when we shoot weddings together.  85mm 1.4- This is my newest baby.  Let me be honest for a second here, I bought this bad boy because every photographer I met owned this lens, so I thought I needed to own it too.  I do love it for bridal portraits and wedding ceremonies, but I feel like I am so far away from my subject when I use this lens, and I don’t like that.  I like to be all up in their business.  But I guess theres a time for being a little further off from my subject, like ceremonies and bridal portraits.  60mm 2.8- My macro lens.  While I probably use this lens the least out of all of them, its so great for close up shots of rings, and lace, and baby eyelashes, and theres really no comparison to having a macro lens when you’re getting those kinds of shots.  12-24mm 4- This wide angle lens is awesome.  When i first started shooting weddings for friends, before I really got serious about things, I would shoot 75% of the wedding with this lens.  Thats how much I loved it.  I still love it, but not I realize that theres a time and a place for distorted extremely wide angle shots.  ie: not the family formals. 70-200mm 2.8-This is my big gun.  I love this lens for wedding ceremonies.  I do a lot of church sanctuary wedding ceremonies and often times they have strict rules about only allowing you past a certain point, or only allowing you in the balcony (My disagreement with this deserves a whole blog entry in itself.. so we’ll save that for another day).  This lens is a life-saver for moments like that, and its just great for getting beautiful close up shots of the bride and groom without getting in everyones way.  I also have my lensbaby composer and my wide angle and macro adapter for when I’m feeling extra creative and maybe a little crazy:)


I also keep a bunch of other accessories with me in my bag.  I love my portable beauty dish lens adapter.  It gives off really nice well-rounded not-harsh light when I’m doing portraits.  In the middle of my beauty dish lens adapter is this cool little mirror lens adapter.  I love using this for things like street photography, or if I’m working with a child who really doesnt like the camera.  It allows me to point my camera away from my subject and still get them in the frame of my camera. My expodisc is by far my favorite accessory.  This allows me to test the light around me to get the perfect white balance, or coloring, to my photograph right in the camera so I don’t have to worry about that when I’m editing.  I also keep a light meter with me just in case.  I usually prefer to set my camera on my own, but its nice to have a light meter there if I need it.  That tiny little thing there is my wireless camera adaptor.  That little baby is new, and wonderful.  I just plug it into my d600 and any photo I take then pops up right on my iPad.  I use this a lot for newborn sessions at my home studio, so parents can see whats going on!  My LED video light is great for creating effects at night when I’m doing bride and groom portraits at an evening wedding, or any time I just need a little extra light on my subject. That blue and black pouch is a Think Tank pocket rocket that holds 10 memory cards at once, and its the reason I stay sane at weddings.  I have a whole system on putting cards in there that have been used and taking new blank memory cards out.  I’m convinced that everyone needs one of these.  And last but not least, my business cards.  I am unfortunately known for not carrying my business cards with me.  So when I got brand new ones a couple weeks ago, I made sure to put a handful of them in every bag that I own.  Yep!

And heres a peek at my cameras and flashes.  I use an all nikon system.  I have a d600 with a d7000 backup. And my husband also uses a d7000 and has a d90 to use as a backup or at our Photo Booth when needed.  I also have 2 sb900 and 2 sb800 flashes all with pocketwizard flex TT5’s.  The pocket wizards allow me to fire the flashes without having to be connected to my camera.  This is crucial for evening shots, and wedding receptions among other things.

Well, friends. There you have it.  I hope someone gets something out of this! Its taken me a couple years to invest in my equipment.  I’ve made sure to not go into debt just to buy a new piece of photography gear.  I’ve worked hard to save up with each wedding and portrait session I do, and have slowly and purposefully invested in equipment that will allow me to better serve my customers and improve my craft.   And I would encourage any aspiring or new photographers out there to do the same.

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