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        Becoming a great photographer, more than anything else, requires hella work and lots of practice. It’s not all about the fancy equipment. The way I see it, a great photographer can make art with whatever they’re given, whether it’s an iPhone, a disposable camera or a point-and-shoot.

        Because I’ve been asked a lot about what I use to shoot, I’m going to break down my arsenal below. But keep in mind, having the same equipment as another photographer doesn’t mean your finished product will look the same.

        You can buy all the camera gear under the sun, but what can’t be purchased or replicated is the way you use light, your creative eye or your ability to make your clients relax in front of the camera. The way you photograph is as unique as your fingerprint! No matter what you have on hand, I want to encourage you to get out there and shoot, with or without the gear mentioned below.

        Canon 5D Mark IV

        I have a love-hate relationship with the Canon 5D Mark IV, which I’ve been using for about a year now. The first one I bought had terrible focusing issues. I’d manually focus on a spot, snap the photo and end up with a totally out of focus, blurry image. Not what you’d expect when you drop 4k on a piece of equipment. The second model I purchased from Adorama, and I had a similarly awful experience. The camera arrived flawed with all kinds of internal issues, and Adorama’s customer service was the worst (I do not recommend purchasing from them). Fortunately, Canon was able to fix it for me, but a month-old camera shouldn’t need repairing. Despite my frustrations and rocky start, I’ve grown to love this camera.

        Pros: Incredible low light capabilities, compact and lightweight, touchscreen

        Cons: Shutter sounds cheap, doesn’t play well with third-party lenses, 6-hour battery life

        Both of these images were shot at 12000ISO in a very low light situation

        Canon 1DX

        I shouldn’t even be telling you this, but the Canon 1DX is my secret weapon. My love for this body knows no bounds. She is the Beyonce of cameras. I purchased it a few years back for my low-light church weddings, and I swear I can be running in zig zags and it would capture a photo in perfect focus. I haven’t had the chance to use it as much since I upgraded to the Mark IV, but I don’t plan on getting rid of this beast anytime soon.

        Pros: Super fast focus, long battery life, solid camera

        Cons: Large and heavy

        Sigma 35mm 1.4

        The Sigma 35mm 1.4 is by far my most used lens. It’s great for wedding and lifestyle portraits, as it really allows the audience to feel part of the story.

        Pros: Inexpensive, sharp when in focus

        Cons: Occasional back focus issues, not super fast at focusing with motion

        Sigma 24mm 1.4

        The Sigma 24mm 1.4 is my go-to reception lens. It’s perfect for capturing all the craziness on the dancefloor with a minimal edge warp. I also use this lens to capture whole scenes both, indoors and out.

        Pros: Sharp focus, not too much warp, inexpensive

        Cons:

        Canon 50mmL 1.2

        The Canon 50mmL 1.2 is a classic and a must-have in any wedding photographer’s bag. You can’t go wrong with it.

        Pros: Solid piece of glass, fast, sharp, a total boss

        Cons:

        Canon 100mm Macro 2.8

        Canon’s 100mm Macro 2.8 has one purpose: detail shots. I purchased this lens after losing my cheap 60mm macro, and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s an expensive lens, but it looks, feels and sounds cheap. When it works, it’s amazing and tack sharp. When it doesn’t, it’s a real pain in the butt.

        Pros: Great for detail shots

        Cons: Clunky, plastic and cheap feeling, finicky focus, expensive

        Speedlite 600EX-RT

        I’m such a big fan of the Speedlite 600EX-RT, I have two. They’re powerful, reliable and easy to use. I use one on my camera at receptions, often bounding light at a 45-degree angle behind me, depending on the room. You can also use them together as remote lights in place of buying radio connectors for your flash. Overall, incredible.

        Pros: They can work as radio flashes together, affordable, easy to use, powerful

        Cons:

        Canon 45mm Tilt Shift

        It’s been a while since I put my Canon 45mm tilt shift to use, but I think this specialty lens is totally worth having around. It’s a fun lens to add variety to a simple background.

        Pros: Unique effect, creates variety from other images

        Cons: Limited use, difficult to navigate at first

        Canon 85mm 1.8

        I don’t use my Canon 85mm 1.8 often, but I’ve had it the longest of all my lenses, and it definitely has its place. I find it comes in handy when I want to give couples a little bit of space while still capturing intimate moments.

        Pros: Great portraits lens, compact

        Cons: Cheap looking, slower focus than other lenses

        This photo was actually taken by my husband while second shooting for me, shows how much I use the 85mm

        Canon 40mm 2.8

        The Canon 40mm 2.8 is basically a toy lens. I really only use it when travelling to avoid lugging my expensive equipment with me. It serves its purpose well.

        Pros: Inexpensive, compact, quick

        Cons: Cheap, not a professional lens

        Woodstock Vegan Backpack by Kelly Moore

        I’ve gone through a number of camera bags over the past few years, but this vegan leather backpack by Kelly Moore has been my favorite so far. It’s tough to find a camera bag that is comfortable, well-made and holds everything I need it to hold. But this backpack easily stores my Mark IV, 50mm, 35mm and my 24mm or 45mm TS along with my memory cards, extra battery business cards, lip gloss and credit cards when I’m traveling!

        Pros: Stylish, large enough for what I need, durable

        Cons: None so far!

        dat me

        Pelican Case 1510

        I prefer the Pelican 1510 case on wedding days to hold all my extra gear: lighting, extra lens, extra camera body, batteries, manuals, etc. I do take issue with the case’s plastic wheels, and I would love to see a version with rubber wheels like the ones they use on skateboards. Fingers crossed.

        Pros: Extremely durable, carry-on approved, flood proof

        Cons: Plastic wheels

         

        I hope this was helpful for you. Keep your eyes peeled for part II, “My Editing + Office Gear + Why It Really Matters”

        oh hey, it me.

        I’m pretty excited you’re here. I still get giddy when I post on here so take your time and really soak up every word and image I’ve thoughtfully published. Who knows maybe your life event will be up here next.

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