An in-depth and exhaustive list of all my gear from camera bodies, lenses, and yes – all my lighting gear. Complete with why I use each!
First lets look at the bags themselves:
ROLLER BAGS: I have two Think Tank roller Airport International V3. They are perfect (especially when traveling to destination weddings) – I feel my gear is secure and padded, no matter how many bangs it endures. I also love that NO ONE realizes they are not typical suitcases, but roller bags with thousands of dollars of gear inside. I have one set aside for my my “35mm” gear and one for my “medium format” gear (meaning camera bodies and lenses correctly together.)
BACKPACK: When shooting an engagement session and along to each wedding (usually full of film and given to my assistant), the Kamrette (I have one in vegan black leather – which is so convincing by the way!) – it holds a surprising amount of gear, SUPER sturdy and incredibly well made along with all the pockets and zippers have been crafted so expertly like they knew when making it, exactly what would be ideal for me.
FILM: My main workhorse for the last 9 years has been the ever popular Contax 645 (I’ve owned too many to admit). If you are in any way familiar with film, I don’t need to say much. While I dont have a particular link for you, the best luck I’ve had is Ebay, FilmSupply.club, and Contax Rentals.
DIGITAL: Next up is my digital medium format mainstay, my Fuji GFX50s. Initially I purchased my GFX because I knew the depth and tonality of my digital images for the sneak peeks I post on Instagram needed to match as best as I could with the film scans I love so much. So I jumped into the medium format world, paired it with these profiles and never looked back. (So good that I still get photographers asking me how I got my scans back so quickly! – PS, I use Indie Film Lab.) I thought briefly about “upgrading” to the 100s, but after comparing color (even with the quicker focus speed) I decided to keep my 50s, as for me, color is paramount.
Lastly, my “35 mm” option – my mirrorless Canon R6. (I opted for the R6 over the R5 for smaller file size and price difference with the R6 being significantly lower.) The main reason I have a 3rd camera system with me, is quite frankly – speed. While I adore my Contax and my GFX 50s, they are slow. Slow like molasses on a cold day in winter. I know in most situations when I’m art directing or styling a shot, I can get these pretty and “perfect” scenes with no problem. And to be honest, I can still get 90% of the impromptu, fast moving moments with those as well but its really nice to have a lighting fast focus system at hand when necessary. Since this is the camera system I’ve already used for the entirety of my nearly 15 year photography career, I loved knowing the menu intuitively, and already having the lenses I’m familiar using. There are a ton of amazing options out there. If I were NOT using the Canon system r6, I would have purchase the Sony A7III. And if I was using the 35mm option as my main camera, I would have opted for the Canon R5 or the Sony A1 – both amazing cameras (and have pretty stellar video capabilities as well.)
FOR MY CONTAX 645:
My go-to would have to be the beautiful Zeiss 80mm f2. Secondly, I love my wide Zeiss 45mm f2.8, and thirdly my Zeiss 140mm 2.8
FOR MY FUJI GFX 50S:
Its really a toss up for my favorite. If I had to lean into one, I think I use the Fuji 80mm 1.7 the most (so clean and sharp!) but by a very close second with my Voigtlander 58mm 1.4 (a little wide, manual focus but the most “film” like rendering so far to my eye. (You’ll need an adapter depending on your camera body!)
FOR CANON R6:
The behemoth, Canon 28-70 2.0 is a powerhouse (and now native to the mirrorless system – for the rest of my original canon lens, here is the adapter you’ll need. And yes – they 100% exactly the same!) It’s almost parked on my R6 permanently. Given that I use the R6 for quick and candid images, the focal length paired with the aperture is unbeatable. (You’ll need to brush up at the gym to be prepared for the size and weight.)
Once my favorite and still a classic, the original Canon 50 1.2L – still so beautiful and love the 1.2 aperture. Pre 2011, the vast majority of my images were used with this lens. (Also – I still have a handy and very cheap 50mm f1.4 just in case.)
Next up is the Canon 135 F2.0 (so good for ceremonies, capturing some easy candids during cocktail hour, or even a pretty portrait).
A few bonus lenses I own: The cheap pancake 40mm 2.8, my original (and cheap) macro 50 f2.5. Lastly, I do not own a macro lens in itself (like this one) but rather use some effective magnification lens filters in various magnifications. I promise the images are pretty! (the image below was taken with my GFX + Voigtlander + “free lensing” some lens filters! shhhhh….)
Here’s the question I get most often – what lighting do you use? Well, friends that really depends. And if you download my Lighting Templates, sign up for my course, or look below you’ll be able to find some of that info!
For a long and beleaguered career photographing weddings in dark cathedrals with abysmal natural light in Ireland, I started making solutions for myself when really there were none shown to me. My ideas seems fraught, off-the-cuff, and unorthodox – so much so that I was nearly too ashamed to show people how I “really” lighted the darkest corners of the churches and receptions I photographed. When I write that last sentence, it seems that there was some scandalous info I kept secret when really all it was that I was doing it “my way” – which wasn’t necessarily math and algorithms but studying patterns of color, light, distance, etc. (And yes, I’m well aware that is all MATH – but you can’t convince my brain this.)
I have 4 Godox Flashes (also known as Flashpoint – essentially the same but without the US warranty). Before those I used Canon 580’s right into the ground. When I upgraded and had the ability to change power remotely, I asked myself over and over why I hadn’t purchased these sooner.
For Contax: Godox X1T-C
For Fuji: Godox XPro-F
For Canon: Godox XPro-X
For times when I am shooting details such as jewelry, tabletop, food, invitations, etc (typically not client facing) I love the ability to use a pair of these. They can be placed on a stand, come with a remote and you just plug them back in to recharge. Sometimes they run out of stock, and here are some good alternatives (and this you completely control the color output which is cool!)
BONUS ROUND –
- DRONE – DJI Mavic 2 Pro + this case to keep it safe.
- 6′ SCRIM (amazing for reflecting and also blocking light)
- Eneloop Rechargable batteries + this charger
- This camera harness is better than Holdfast (at least more low profile – I have one in black.)
- These acrylic “stamp” blocks for styling
- Flim (Kodak 400 + 800 all day everyday!)
- These kids snack containers to hold film inserts when you lose yours! (You know you have.)
Is there anything missing? I hope this is helpful and would love to answer any questions you might have!