We’re often asked about our equipment from fellow photographers and clients alike so we thought we’d give you a glimpse into our bag.
To be honest, we’re not overly interested in the latest technology or how many megapixels the newest cameras have. We look at our gear as tools that serve a specific purpose – fueling creativity and producing a product that will stand the test of time.
Despite the epic rise in mirrorless technology, we still feel the most inspired by Canon’s DSLR, the Canon 5D Mark IV. The fast auto focus, insane low light capabilities (we comfortably shoot up to 8,000 ISO), dynamic range, and thoughtful placement of key functions allow the technology to flow seamlessly between ‘seeing’ and ‘capturing’.
One of the biggest reasons we love this camera is the ability to shoot on dual cards (meaning your images can be written to two seperate cards – effectively giving you an immediate backup). This is a HUGE deal for us since we are often documenting important moments in people’s lives that you can’t recreate. The last thing we ever want to face is a corrupted card during a wedding. The dual card capability allows us a little extra insurance in knowing that those precious moments are being saved on two seperate cards simultaneously.
We absolutely love the quality of images we get from these cameras, the ease of the “quick” access menu on the back of the camera, and now even being able to focus by touching the LCD screen when we’re in Live Mode, which we often use when we’re trying to get a large group of people close together or composing an image from above.
The Leica M 262 is our secret weapon and a huge creative outlet for continued inspiration. We use the Leica when we’re documenting travel and don’t want to bring the heavier DSLRs, as well as documenting our everyday life around home! This is a digital rangefinder (no auto-focus) which forces us to slow down and think differently when creating images. We love it.
We shoot all prime lenses (which means all of the lenses in our bag are fixed focal lengths – no zoom lenses). We find we get the best images from professional series primes lenses for two reasons:
1) Prime lenses don’t have extra glass inside that moves in order to zoom so we end up with significantly sharper images and better quality photographs (due to less diffraction which increases with higher number of internal lens elements).
2) Having a fixed focal length forces us to move our bodies in order to change composition/distant/etc. For us, this really helps spark creativity and allows us to think outside the box. Since we often have to move our bodies to get the shot we’re hoping for, it allows us to see things from an entirely different perspective as we’re looking for the right spot to get the shot we’re envisioning.
Canon 85mm f/1.2 II [ THE PORTRAIT LENS ]
“The images are so rich with beautiful bokeh we often feel like we’re shooting with a large format camera”
The Canon 85mm f/1.2 II is big, heavy, and sometimes slow to focus but shooting this lens wide open (f/1.2) is an exquisite experience. The images are so rich with beautiful bokeh we often feel like we’re shooting with a large format camera. We use this lens often for portraits, details, and little vignettes of spaces. Every now and then we’ll also use it to capture landscape if we’re in a really large, beautiful area that we want to feel close to (think mountains, redwood forest, etc). The Canon 85mm f/1.8 is a decent contender with its drop in weight and faster focus but you instantly lose some of the unique characteristic elements of what makes this lens so special – beautiful flare, creamy depth of field, and the solid build.
Canon 35mm f/1.4 II [ THE “EVERYTHING” LENS ]
“50% of the images from our lifestyle shoots or wedding days are captured on this lens”
Because the focal length of the Canon 35mm f/1.4 II is the closest to what our eyes see naturally, this is one of our go-to lenses to capture everything from landscapes, people, and overall environment. Since our style is more documentary, 50% of the images from our lifestyle shoots or wedding days are captured on this lens. Technically speaking, we’ve never used a better lens. You just can’t go wrong with this model – beautiful colors, fast focus, and crazy sharp images. Worth every dollar.
Canon 135mm f/2.0 [ THE SECRET SUNSET LENS ]
Want those creamy warm sunset photos or need to get in close but don’t want to ruin a moment? Look no further. We love using the Canon 135mm f/2.0 to capture beautiful sunset photos, details, moments between people that we don’t want to interrupt, and those up-close moments when a tear falls in the middle of the vows. While we don’t use this lens as often as the others in our bag, it really is an incredible tool that we’d be sad to go without.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART [ THE DANCE FLOOR AND EVERY PHOTOJOURNALIST’S MUST HAVE ]
“We really love how this lens allows us to focus on a moment, while still seeing the “story” that is happening around the subject”
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART is our favorite lens for the dance floor, capturing the environment of a day, and a must have for our documentary-style photography. We really love how this lens allows us to focus on a moment, while still seeing the “story” that is happening around the subject. This is also a great lens if you’re trying to get a lot of people in an image (think extended family photos)… just make sure to be careful with getting your subjects too close to the edges in group portraits or you’ll run into distortion.
Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART [ THE “IF I COULD ONLY HAVE ONE LENS IN MY BAG” LENS ]
We really love the multi-purpose function of the Sigma 50 1.4 ART. It’s not as wide as the 35mm (which can include unwanted subjects in a frame like a messy room) but offers more latitude than the 85mm. In any situation, whether it be a portrait, detail, or special moment, we find the 50mm to be the most trusted companion and could safely say that (if we had to) we could shoot an entire wedding with this one lens.
The must-have backup drive for every photographer (Especially if you travel for work!) You’ve already heard us say this, but protecting our client’s images is super important to us (probably birthed out of the fact that Jen is a 6 on the Enneagram). This drive is amazing and one of the most essential tools in our belt because it allows us to do just that! With the NEXTO DI drive we can upload CF or SD cards directly to a backup drive without needing a computer (ah-mazing, right?). On a wedding day or travel shoot (either during downtime or immediately following the shoot) we’ll start the process of backing up each card we’ve shot through during the session/wedding. This ensures that all images are in at least two places immediately following a session and when we’re away from the office (one copy on the card / one copy on the ‘backup’ drive).
If you shoot on dual-cards, this will ensure you have images in at least three places before your “official” backup (on the CF card, on the SD card, and on the backup drive). There is also this newer version of the Nexto Di (Nexto DI NVS2825).
There are so many different backup drive options out there, but for sake of performance, security, and ease of use we LOVE the G-Drive system. These drives give us the ability to upload images quickly, ensure that the drive stays cool with a built-in fan, and allows us to “daisy chain” our hard drives (which is a fancy way of saying that we can have multiple hard drives plugged into ONE of the lighting ports in our computer at the same time. Sup, time saver?).
SIDE NOTE – We’re working hard and rearranging some of the content from our Editing & Workflow class to release as a self-paced class soon – If you want to learn more about how these drives fit into our workflow and backup system click here to be notified when the class is available!
In our 7 years of professional photography, SanDisk CF Cards have proven time and time again to be the most reliable. Since protecting images is one of our highest priories, we only shoot on 16GB cards to ensure that if anything were to happen to a CF card, there are less images we have to worry about being corrupted or lost. We use the 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro CF Card. If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable option, you could also consider the 16GB SanDisk Extreme CF Card without compromising on too much speed. If you like being able to store more images on a card (or you shoot video) you could also look into the 32 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro, 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro, or 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro. Bonus: SanDisk cards come with a limited lifetime warranty!
We use the SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro SD Card in the second slot on our Mark IVs as an immediate back up – everything written to the CF card will also be written to the SD (note: you have to choose “record to multiple” in the settings). To keep our minds at ease we have one larger SD card in every camera body that will hold an entire wedding on each camera, that way we’re only having to change the CF cards when full. For us, the 64GB was the perfect sweet spot.
Ona Prince Street [ Your best friend for “on-the-go” ]
The Ona Prince Street bag is perfect for carrying a couple extra lenses, batteries, CF Cards, and a snack bar on a wedding day! It is durable, supportive, and stylish and makes a great travel camera bag if you’re traveling with less gear (think one camera body and two lenses unattached or one camera with lens attached and some accessories). Sometimes we’ll even pack it in our suitcase just to a “day bag” with us when walking around a city. We love the leather (ours in Antique Cognac) which just continues to look better and better with wear. Some features we love on this bag: adjustable protective pockets inside, thin pocket on the back with magnetic closure (perfect for easy access to things like gum, boarding passes, etc), and we really love the durability of the leather for travel. If you’re looking for something even smaller the Ona Bowery Leather or Ona Bowery Waxed Canvas are both great options!
Think Tank International [ The Everywhere Bag ]
Can’t say enough about how much we LOVE the Think Tank International bag. Where do we even begin? This bag not only holds all of our gear for wedding days, but it’s super convenient to travel with, has easy pockets in all the right places, roller wheels, built-in safety features like a lockable zipper, a high strength coated cable lock so that you can lock your bag up to an unlovable object if necessary and comes with it’s own rain cover! We could go on and on about how much we love this bag. We love this bag because it’s so easy to travel with (although it does get heavy once all our gear is in it), durable, several safety features, multiple pockets to keep things organized (no more guessing which batteries are charged), meets most U.S. and international airline carry on requirements, and allows us to keep everything we need in one place.
Pelican Case 1510 [ The protector ]
“…it’s watertight, crush-proof and dust-proof.”
While the Pelican Case 1510 is a bit smaller than our Think Tank International, this is our bag of choice if we know we’re going on a flight that might require us to check our camera bag (we’ve found this is common on smaller regional flights). Although we always try to carry our gear on no matter what, occasionally we have to fly on a regional jet which simply doesn’t have the cargo space overhead for any reasonably sized bag. Enter, the Pelican Case 1510… it’s watertight, crush-proof and dust-proof. Because we’re often reconfiguring what gear we’re packing in this case (remember, we mentioned it’s a tad bit smaller than our Think Tank bag, so not everything fits in this one bag for us) we opted for the padded dividers rather than the foam insert that we felt required us to make permanent decisions about gear placement. We also added the pelican case lid organizer for the case which is a huge lifesaver for an organization lover :)
While we don’t use speedlites a ton they’re a pretty essential piece of our toolkit. These bad boys come in handy for receptions, dark ceremony locations, group photos, exits, etc. We’re currently using the Canon 600ex ii-rt Speedlite and love the ability to remotely control both flashes through it’s built in two-way radio communication.
Because we shoot with all prime lenses (see the lens section above for why) we always have two camera bodies accessible with different lenses on each so that we’re able to switch between tools in an instant without setting a camera down or swapping lenses. The HoldFast Money Maker strap has been the only product we’ve loved for serving this purpose and goes with us on every shoot. I have one in leather and Brad just switched to the black fabric one this year because the leather one was leaving stains on his dress shirts (I have not had this problem with mine).
For several years we kept finding ourselves buying AA battery over and over and over again. Until one day we realized “hey, they make rechargeable versions of these things!” The Watson Rechargeable AA Batteries have been amazing. We use them for our Canon 600EX-ii Speedlites and just about everything in our house that needs AA batteries. For charging, we have the 8-Bay Rapid Charger, but they also make a 4-Bay Rapid Charger as well.
We didn’t ever feel like we had a need for a portable charger until we started traveling often for work and realized that things like subway rides and using Google Maps to get around a city drain your battery really quickly. Although we can usually find a plug, it isn’t always that easy and more commonly we don’t have time to stop somewhere and charge our phone when we actually need to… cue the Portable Phone Charger. If we’re traveling (especially somewhere we know will drain our phones like NYC, low service areas like the mountains, or long car rides through the middle of nowhere) this charger comes with us. (Note: The one we have which is shown above doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but Lumina Compact Portable Charger has great reviews and looks much slimmer and easier to travel with!)
We’ve learned over the years (many times the hard way) that it’s always a good idea to keep a few extra things on you “just in case.” Two big ones for us are food and water. Might seem pretty obvious, but it took us a while to catch on and we’ve often found ourselves running to a convenient store before a shoot to pickup a snack or jug of water.
We invested in HydroFlasks a couple of years ago and have really loved them. Not only do they help the environment (yay for re-useable water bottles!) but they help keep our water COLD… even when we forget our water in the car in the middle of a hot Nashville summer. We always make sure these are full before we head out for a shoot. Our only regret was not purchasing a larger one. (bonus: If you’re a coffee lover like us, you can also keep your coffee hot all day long…just don’t forget to hydrate too.)
For food, we like to keep easy healthy snacks that we can throw in a camera bag and eat on the go. A few go-tos for us are Lara Bars, ProBar MEAL, GoMacro Bars, or a simple container of homemade trail mix (our favorite combo is raw cashews, roasted & lightly salted almond, raw pepitas, dairy-free chocolate chips and raw pecans). For DIY trail mix we’ve found choosing one ingredient that is roasted and lightly salted and one sweet ingredient helps keep it healthier with the perfect amount of sweet and salty to cure our mid-wedding cravings. We’ll also occasionally bring some fresh fruit or veggies along if we’ve got the time! The most common fruit/veggie snacks we bring are sliced apples and almond butter, a banana, and if we’re bringing a cooler we’ll usually throw in some organic grapes or veggies with hummus.
We’ve learned over the last few years that we love helping others think through systems and ways to serve their couples better while allowing their business to flow seamlessly. In the past we’ve taught a 4-week course on Editing & Workflow and really loved helping others make a deeper impact on the world through their business. However, we know that life doesn’t always fit into “4-week classes” so…. we’re currently in the process of rearranging our Editing & Workflow Class to be a self-paced class (woohoo!). If this post was helpful to you and you’re ready to feel more streamlined in your workflow or more confident in your editing
CLICK HERE to be notified when the Editing & Workflow Class is available!
( Have no fear, we won’t be spamming your inbox ;) )
disclaimer: while we do receive a very small referral fee should you choose to purchase any of the items from the links, 100% of these thoughts and opinions are our own. this is gear we actually use and this post was written first and foremost to help serve the photo community.