As requested, on this gorgeous Fall day (OH MY GOSH IT’S FALL!) in Kansas City, I want to share with you what photography equipment I use. It is by no means the best stuff out there, as I’m sure you will find out, but it has served me well so far and I would vouch for it any day! My very first DSLR was an entry-level Sony and, while it was just what I needed to get started and discover that I love photography, I transitioned to Canon pretty quickly. My apologies to any Nikon users reading this as I won’t be of much help to you regarding equipment. I haven’t ever used Nikon, but I haven’t had a reason to...Canon has treated me too well :)
This is my main camera body; I describe it (to the best of my knowledge) as the least expensive full-frame and, partnered with a good lens, it can do wonders!
This is my backup camera body; which (as far as I know) can be considered top of the line as far as cropped-frame sensors go. It was my main camera for several years before I decided a back-up was a NECESSITY (for weddings especially) and bought the 6D. I went with this one originally because it uses the same size lenses as the full-frame Canons. Most photographers would agree that, to a certain point, the quality of the lens is more important than the body so I decided I would rather invest more in those and not have to transition my whole line of lenses once I was able to upgrade the body. Obviously having lenses that are interchangeable between the bodies was a super important consideration as well for circumstances where it’s helpful to utilize multiple cameras.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
When possible, this is my go-to lens for pretty much everything. It is essential at weddings (which is why I hope to get a back-up someday) because I can be far enough removed from the ceremony that I am not too much of a distraction, but can still get those close up shots that really tell the story of the moment best. It is also my favorite for portraits, engagements, etc., because it allows me to achieve the bokeh that I am so in love with. To learn more about bokeh, or the blurred part of a photo, and how to achieve it in your photos, see my previous post: Bokeh for Beginners.
85mm is technically thought of as the “perfect” focal length for portraits because it best preserves the proportions of people's’ faces. See examples below. Since I don’t have an 85mm yet, this lens allows me to at least reach roughly that focal length to capture people as they truly are.
As you can tell by most of the photos I share, I love close-up people shots...they’re kinda my thing! Most of the time I look through my Instagram feed and think to myself, ‘man, I should really try to take/post more wide angle shots - people are probably sick of seeing close-ups of strangers’ faces.” And yet, sharing the beauty and life in their faces is what I love! It’s always a good goal to work towards diversifying your work and expertise, so I promise to aim for that, but I don’t promise to stop doing what I believe I am best at in the meantime :)
I’m sure you have noticed that I post a lot of photos of kids, another aspect of photography that I adore. Well, this lens is my total go-to with small children because, in order to keep their attention, I have to stay closer to them than I can with the 70-200mm. This one is also light enough that I can use it with one hand while I obnoxiously wave my free hand in the air to try and get them to look at me...and no, I don’t mind looking like a fool if it means getting the photo I want!
As mentioned before, sometimes the proportions are just slightly distorted with the 50mm, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that is always a bad thing. For example, the photo below was taken with this lens and I LOVE how little Angie looks almost cartoon-like, but not so much that it doesn’t capture who she is. And let’s be real, most of us wouldn’t even notice the slight “distortion” if exact photos with different focal lengths weren’t right next to each other!
Canon EF 24-105 F/4
- This is my mid-range zoom lens for general use, the one that zooms out wide enough to capture buildings or more of the background. The aperture isn't good enough for much low-light action, but pair it with my speedlite (below) and it does a fantastic job!
Canon EF 35mm f/2
The 35 is my most recent purchase and I couldn't be happier with it! It's one of the most inexpensive lenses I own and it does an incredible job. It is wide enough to capture full-body shots and more of the background, but also lets a ton more light in than the 24-105mm because of the better aperture. Those few f-stops make a huge difference and I can't wait to see how much it helps me at my next wedding. I highly recommend this one (side note: 35mm lenses are the most widely used for video because they portray the world the closest to what the human eye sees).
Canon EF 85mm 2.8
The 85mm lens is widely considered the perfect portrait lens because it offers the least amount of distortion so our subjects are depicted the most realistically. This focal length also creates, for lack of a better way to explain it, the most creamy bokeh (blur) effect. Once you get to know it, you can often tell immediately when looking at a photograph that it was taken with an 85mm. This lens is another inexpensive option that does a wonderful job, especially compared to the EF 85mm f/1.2L (although the sharpness of the L series is INCREDIBLE and I hope to upgrade someday!).
I shot this maternity session solely with my 35mm and 85mm!
Tamron 90mm f/2.8
I very rarely use this macro lens, but the times it seems to come in most handy is when I do ring shots at weddings and babies during portrait/family sessions. It’s hard to capture the tiny details of a baby with a telephoto or wide angle lens so the macro comes in handy for little belly buttons, feet, hands, and facial features that new parents want to remember forever. These two circumstances definitely justify having a macro lens, but since it’s not one I use all the time, I stuck with the less expensive Tamron instead of going with a Canon and it seems to do what I need it to!
I must admit, this was a piece of equipment I just HAD TO HAVE and I honestly haven’t used it much at all (hence the dust in the photo...). It is a cool idea, and maybe if I spent more time trying to master it I would do it justice, but the things I have tried with it so far have been less than desirable.
Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and Transmitter
I was terrified of flash photography at first. It seemed so complicated and I had no confidence in my ability to make it work well during a paid session. If this is you, I want to encourage you..it’s not as hard as it seems!! I can say that because I only know the very basics, but it has absolutely transformed my photography. With the exception of dark wedding ceremonies (since I don’t want to be a distraction with a constant flash and I’m typically farther away), I have so much more confidence in my ability to shoot in any situation, and less anxiety on my part leads to a better experience for everyone!
If you have basic questions about on and off-camera flash photography, please don’t hesitate to comment below, email me at email@example.com, or message me on Facebook. I can’t promise to know the answers to all of your questions, but I may be able to help you get started and get over your initial fear of it!
Sunpak Pz42XC Flash
This is my backup off-camera flash. Similar to the situation with my camera bodies, I had this one first and it got me through until I could afford a Canon. It works pretty well but my biggest complaint is that it takes too long to charge up again in between shots. I had too many awkward circumstances where I was doing family photos in a dark area (typically a church sanctuary) and would have to pretend to be looking through the photos I was snapping while I was really just waiting for my flash to reboot in order to take another photo. If you do shoots that don’t require as much fast-paced timing as weddings, the Sunpak is a good, inexpensive option for you, but another Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite is one of the very next things on my list to add to my equipment!
So that’s what I use at the moment. Now as far as what I would like to add someday...that gets a touch more pricey.
The dream bag:
- Upgrade my 85mm and 35mm to Canon L Series glass
- Canon 5D Mark III
Backup Canon 600EX-RT speedlight to replace my Sunpak
Moneymaker or equivalent so I don’t have to awkwardly have two camera straps around my neck or switch lenses as often
There is something I really want to know from you...comment below to let me know what your favorite lens is and why! We can learn from each other :)