We get a lot of people asking us what equipment we use, what our favorite lenses are, and what we recommend. We are in no way saying we know it all and everyone should do what we do… but we figured we’d write a little blog sharing what our favorite pieces of equipment are and what’s in our arsenal for portrait sessions. We also have another post dedicated to what we bring for wedding days which is a little different than what we bring to portrait sessions. So here are our portrait session photography essentials!
When we are out on location, in a field, on the river, on a boat, where ever – we always load up our Ona The Capri Shoulder Bag with our Canon 6d, 85mm, 50mm lens, and the 180mm lens. I usually do all of the portrait sessions alone because Tony works during the week days, so this bag is perfect for me. It sits on my shoulder so I’m not worrying about rolling around our Think Tank Rolling Bag through the grass, mud, what have you. I take our 180mm for engagement ring shots and the which is why I take the 180mm and I take the 50mm and 85mm because of their amazing bokeh for portraits. The Ona can carry all of this in a great padded space that also has room for my chapstick, essential oils, and cell phone. I also use this bag on wedding days. You can read more about what we bring to wedding days in this post here: Wedding Day Photography Essentials. Another positive about this bag – it looks a heck of a lot like my Madewell Transport Tote which I use as my purse on a daily basis, but the Ona actually protects all of my gear which is totally needed.
While at WPPI this past February, we decided to invest in the RL Handcraft Andino Lite Sling and two of the Clydesdale Pros. The sling is great for portrait sessions when we’re not so much in a crazy hurry to swap lenses out and the Clydesdale is perfect for wedding days because we can have our camera on one side a slip pocket hooked on the other side to hold an additional lens. These keep our hands free so if a bride needs a dress fluffed or whatever we need to do, we can do it without putting our gear down on the ground.
Now to the get to the good stuff. What do we actually fill these bags with? Here we go:
Canon 6D: Tony and I both have Canon 6Ds. They are great in low-light and comparable to the Canon 5d Mark III but without the hefty price tag. We’re actually hoping to switch these to be our backup camera bodies for 2018 because we will be upgrading our primary bodies to be the Canon 5d Mark IVs. The thing about being a husband and wife team – we have to buy two of almost everything so that everything is of the same quality for our couples!
Canon Battery Charger
Canon Macro Lens 180mm 3.5: This is a great lens. Honestly, I bought it about 5 years ago because I wanted a lens to have awesome macro shots while I was in college – pre wedding adventures. Now we use it to fill the long distance range lens spot until we can afford to get the 70-200 f/2.8 IS (which we will hopefully be able to work into the budget for 2018 as well). We use it mostly for engagement ring shots – so here’s a ton of pretty rings because… let’s be honest, we all love to drool over the bling!
Canon 50mm 1.4: This is pretty much our go-to lens for portraits unless we’re in a situation where we can use the 85mm. It’s beautiful and we use it when we want to get closer to our subjects but don’t have a ton of room, or we use it for details a lot. It’s also sort of our safety lens… If we’re not sure what we’re going to be shooting or what the space is like, we’ll most likely start with our 50mm on our camera body and go from there. It still gets a little of the environment around the subject but also gets closer than the 35mm. It goes with us everywhere and is definitely a key player in our wedding day photography essentials. Here’s a few samples:
Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art: Our FAVORITE portrait lens. We’ve been using this a lot more lately, especially for portrait sessions where we are outdoors because you do have to have a bit of space to use it. We highly recommend this lens if you’re shooting with a full frame camera body. The bokeh is insane when you shoot wide open, and it helps being able to open up to 1.2 in lower lighting situations, too. Here’s a few samples of shots taken with the 85mm:
Hopefully this helps anyone looking to venture into the photography world! You’ll also notice that we shoot portrait sessions with prime lenses only. While some might argue that it’s not the most convenient… constantly having to switch out lenses depending on the focal length we want and actually use our legs to zoom in and out (walking) instead of just turning the ring… we’ve found a HUGE quality difference when using prime lenses and we prefer the crispness of our primes. That being said, there’s TONS of other pieces of equipment that we don’t use that others probably find essential, but like we mentioned in the beginning of this blog… this is just how we do it! If you have any questions on anything, feel free to shoot us an email – we’re always down to chat!
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