Ask the Photographer: What is in your bag?
  • For Photographers
July 6, 2012

I get this question a lot! What gear do you carry in your bag? What are your favorite lenses? How did you ever afford to buy all of this stuff? I will do my  best to answer these questions for you 🙂

Gear is expensive. Rome wasn’t built in a day type of response is what I will give you. I started shooting photography for fun in 2007 with a Nikon D60 and a kit lens. I had no idea what a full sensor was and for the life of me could not understand why there were so many lenses aka “Glass”. At the same time I was learning photoshop and was completely overwhelmed. Everyone has to start somewhere and I was at the beginning. The VERY beginning. I read a lot of blogs, watched a ton of youtube and constantly questioned anyone who would be willing to answer. It was a long list of “To do’s”, but I considered it my education. I was only going to better myself by learning what all of this stuff is!

In 2008 I decided to go Canon. 😀

I purchased the brand new 5d Mark ii with the kit lens 24-105 4.0. At the time it was a  FANTASTIC camera with a pretty decent lens. I wore that thing out! I loved the wide perspective and the zoom. I really didn’t understand aperture and prime lenses. It was a healthy start and this is what I started making money with. After a few months of shooting with only this kit lens I started to feel trapped. I wanted more ‘bokeh’ aka blur and  I also loved super wide angles. This lens was not allowing me to do those two things like I wanted. I also was a huge fan of Ali Hohn and her lighting techniques. So I sort of started backwards. I went straight for the lighting. Most people start off achieving natural light photography before moving on to studio lights, but I was so drawn to the dramatic lighting–I had to!

(TOP) Alien Bee Camera Left and Canon 580EX on the ground Camera Right, 24-70mm 2.8 (BOTTOM) Alien Bee Camera Left, Cybersync

Alien Bee with Soft Box behind Camera & Canon 580EX Camera Left & Camera Right, Canon 24-70mm 2.8, Cybersync


2 Paul Buff Alien Bee B800’s

Large & Medium Softboxes, Beauty Dish, Umbrella


Cybersync Transmitter and Receiver

I use these with my alien bees and I also use these with my 580EX & other Off Camera Flashes


These are my most commonly used items and usually in my bag or really close to where I can get to them!

Shootsac Bag – Me and the hubby wear this at weddings and on all sessions. It fits our body super snug with 6 pocket areas. I carry 3 of the lenses shown on me at one time, extra cards, batteries, car keys and more! Super roomy!

EXPO DISC – I use this to custom white balance at weddings. I white balance every room I will be working in so that my work looks consistent. I believe in shooting correctly SOOC. (Straight out of camera) When you are working with over 3000 photos you really want top make your work look as consistent as possible. This is a lifesaver for me and my 2nd shooting hubby. Custom White balancing is the way to go! Lightroom is also super great for fixing all that later.

Canon 5d Mark III Camera – I just recently upgraded from the 5d Mark II and I LOVE this camera body! Super Sharp, Amazing ISO capabilities and Fantastic Focusing! My hubby still shoots with the 5d Mark II with GREAT results 🙂 Here is a test shot in a dark room at House of Blues in Dallas with NO Flash. Shooting dark wedding ceremony with No flash is a constant challenge and this camera is up to it!

Rapid Strap – Everyone is pained by the strap! This is the women’s strap from Rapid Strap. I like it, but I don’t love it. My camera actually fell off of my body once at a wedding. NOT good. I really would prefer a holster, but alas this is what I am using. It is a HUGE upgrade from the Canon strap, but its still not my fav. When you have the Shootsac bag on and this it can seem a little smothering!

Micro Apollo – We use these as an speed light/ OCF diffuser for my lighting assistant to hold at weddings and on almost all detail shots at wedding receptions (Cake, tables, Flowers)

Micro Apollo with 580EX Camera Right, Canon 24-70mm 2.8

Canon 24-70mm  L2.8 – I love this lens with lighting. Almost every lighting shot I have taken is with this lens. It works really well as our Wide Angle lens. Jeff really enjoys the zoom on this lens, but we find that it sometimes is not bright enough in low light situations.

Canon 85mm 1.2 – OMG, My super favorite lens. The bokeh on this thing is crazy awesome. I use this as my portrait lens on Seniors, Couples or small groups. It’s my top favorite lens, but it is super slow at focusing and hard to work with in low light.

Canon 70-200mm L 2.8 – This lens is super flexible! I love this as a portrait lens too. It can really make for a creamy photos and allow me to be far from my subject. I love this for toddlers running around outside! We mostly use this for 2nd shooting on portrait sessions for wedding day (my hubby) and for wedding ceremonies. Having a telephoto is super important! I love the way this lens pulls you towards your subject! Yummy!

Canon 50mm 1.2 – Nifty Fifty! This is a great go to lens. I shoot a TON of everything with this. It is quick to focus and works really well in low light. It is on my camera probably 60% of the time for normal everything use and the one me and the hubby fight over 🙂 This lens is said to be exactly what you see with your natural eye.

Same Day Slideshows

Ipad encased by the Bloom Frame

Custom Event Cards with my clients POPWebsite and how to FIND & ORDER photos after the wedding.

(Not seen in photos: 580EX, Reflectors, Umbrellas, Softboxes)

All photos shot with our other favorite lens Canon 100mm Macro

Not Shown: My Rolling Bag from Think Tank

  • WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS OF THIS COLLECTION OF GEAR? – A Full frame camera, 50mm & an Speedlight Flash. I prefer a prime (non zoom) lens any day over a zoom. The “L” series is super amazing too.
  • HOW DID YOU AFFORD THIS? – Good Question! I believe in a debt free business. I truly believe that it should all be taken in baby steps. A certain percent of your earnings should be going back into your business. I bought slightly cheaper gear in the beginning and then I would sell them and upgrade. I actually went through the 50mm 1.8, 1.4 and now the 1.2! Think of it as graduating through different grade levels– one thing at a time.  Over 5 years I have gained the gear I need to shoot what I love. Working with a team is also very helpful because we can borrow each others lenses and share. Just like in Kindergarten–we have to share 🙂
  • DO YOU EVER HAVE DAMAGED GEAR? – Yes. I am making an appointment next month to have my gear cleaned and checked out. Bangs, drops, dirt–it all happens. I had three major things go wrong this year. My alien bee fell over in the wind and had to be fixed. Lucky for me that Paul Buff has amazing warranty! YAY Then my 24-70 was on my camera when my Rapid Strap broke and hit the concrete. It has a focusing issue. That is going to cost me. And finally, my speed light 580EX was knocked off a light stand at a wedding. It is in pieces. That too will cost me. Have your gear insured and have it checked up just like you do your teeth and your car!
  • NAME BRAND vs OFF BRAND – I am all about having Canon everything. The quality is superior and it works well with other Canon gear. <<<BUT>>> I also believe that gear that is disposable and works the same as the Canon gear is just as well. At weddings I use off brand speed lights and have no problems. They are affordable and easily replaced if broken. (As mentioned before) I put my money in my camera, lenses, cards,etc…. These flashes and triggers work great for places where gear can be damaged or stollen. Check them out- Triggers & Speed Lights

Final Advice– Know what you love to shoot and study what glass would best benefit you. Put your money where it is most valuable. It’s not about HOW much gear you have. It’s about how well you use it. Once you attain the gear you love make sure and take care of it and have it cleaned and serviced regularly.

Best wishes in your purchases! If you have questions, feel free to ask! I have more gear and more things I can post or answer about in a later post!





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