What's in my camera bag & how i prepare for a shoot

I have never been one for needing the highest quality camera or the latest technology. I learnt how to take photos on a 35mm film camera and then upgraded to my first digital camera which was a Canon 500D.

Sometimes I will hear people say “you must have a really good camera”. The truth is, my current cameras (Canon 5D Mark II) are still pretty basic and there are now 2 newer models on the market. I was taught to make the most out of the equipment I had because my skills and knowledge would be what makes a great photograph. I still stand by this. I also have a 40k student loan and Degree backing me (the most expensive piece of paper I own but it was worth every cent).

Canon 50mm f/1.4 Lens
Canon camera kit - New Zealand photographer

If I’m shooting a wedding or family photos I will have two Canon 5D Mark II bodies on me. I use a handmade leather harness made in NZ by The Knot Leather, not only does it look cool but it has been a life saver for my back and shoulders.

I’ll choose my lens depending on what I am shooting and what I want to achieve. My go to lens will be either my Canon 40mm f/2.8 or more recently Sigma Art 35mm. I’ll then have a 50mm or 135mm on my other body. I use my Canon 135mm for candid photos of guests at weddings, it allows me to put some distance between me and the person I’m photographing (I’m like a fly on a wall). My Canon 50mm f/1.4 I mostly use for freelensing which is a technique I use for details or more creative shots.

Wellington photographer
The Knot Leather camera harness
camera harness made in New Zealand

My main focus when using this gear is being consistent with my style (using a wider aperture, usually around 3.5 -4.5) but maintaining sharpness where it’s needed (usually around peoples faces/eyes) and avoiding movement (I try to keep my shutter speed at 1/200).

Getting to know my couples or families before a shoot is how I prepare the most. If I can help people feel reassured and comfortable before they meet me it makes it easier for them to relax on the day of the shoot.

If I am photographing at a wedding venue which I haven’t been to before I will do some research first and see what spots other photographers have used. I will often turn up to a venue 10 minutes early so I can scope out some good spots. I’ll be looking for covered spots on a bright sunny day, otherwise the light is too harsh and creates unflattering shadows on the face. Sometimes it comes down to making decisions on the spot because of weather conditions or lighting which can change in a second.

Canon 40mm f/2.8 lens

Sometimes I will have a second shooter with me for weddings. We try to not plan our movements too much, otherwise, our shots start to feel too forced and don’t often go to plan. It’s best to let events unfold in front of us. At the start of the day I will be with the girls for preparations and my second will be with the guys. We work around each other and sometimes have a key focus, for example, I might ask my second shooter to mainly photograph candid photos of the guests or get the parent reactions.

There you have it! I definitely don’t over complicate things when it comes to gear. I am all about the people, capturing emotion and documenting the occasion!