When I started my photography business, I had no clue which photography tools to use. I searched the internet aimlessly, read numerous blogs from photographers I admired, all to feel defeated and overwhelmed at the end of each day.
Knowing this, I created this blog with that in mind! I have compiled all of my favorite photography tools that I use in one spot so that my readers can not only find out what’s in my camera bag, but also save time and money–and hopefully heartache–in finding the best tools out there!
Just know that I will get a small commission if you click on the product below and end up purchasing it for yourself! If you do get excited and purchase the product, I just want to say–thank you!! AND…you are going to be SO happy you did! These products are seriously life-changing! I don’t say that lightly! Over time using them, I was able to leave my full time teaching job! Gosh…I never thought I would be the one to write that! They are worth gold!
Have you ever heard, “Wow! Your camera takes such great pictures!”? Yeah, me too (enter palm hitting forehead here). As a photographer, you know that your work is not created solely by the camera in your hand, but your knowledge of light, composition, location, etc. My professor in college proved this point by giving us each an disposable film camera and told us to go out and create magic. It was a hard assignment, but he proved his point that beauty is in our knowledge, not necessarily the tools. As photographers, we have to master so many things, but having an advanced camera really does make your work shine!
I started my journey with film. Enter the Pentax 645. They don’t even make them anymore! I had to buy it off of Ebay! I still use and love its buttery goodness. You can still purchase the 120 mm film which is so much fun to shoot! I use it only for really special occasions with my family, or bride and groom portraits during weddings. You cannot beat it…pure perfection. I use the Sekonic meter while I shoot! Makes it so easy!
For the past 4 years I have been shooting exclusively with my Mark IV. Even when everyone was switching to mirrorless, I held strong and I’m glad I did. There’s just something about the Mark IV that makes my heart twitter. It’s a workhorse, always creating creamy and dreamy portraits that are hard to reproduce with other cameras.
Last but not least, the Canon R6. This new mirrorless technology blew my mind when I first tried it. I liken it to seeing color t.v. for the first time. No…really. I haven’t felt that excitement for a new piece of equipment for a long time, but I get it every time I pick this beauty up to shoot. I am SO in love. This Canon R6 allows you to essentially meter and edit in real time in the viewfinder, which will save you so much time during the editing process!
2. Computers & Storage
I know there are two different camps out there…Windows vs Mac users. I get it! While I am comfortable and have used both in my business, I feel strongly that with the art of photography, Mac wins! I purchased a 15 in. Apple Mac Book Pro which is arguably my most valuable asset to my business. I use it to communicate with my clients, work on my website, edit my photos, and design my albums and so much more! I have NEVER had a problem with it, which is tough to say especially in this day in age with so many bugs and viruses with technology.
Speaking of Apple, I bring my trusty Ipad along to all of my weddings. While the bride and groom and their guests are eating their dinner, I sneak to a quiet spot and do some quick editing of my favorite images to make them a same day slideshow. Then I airdrop them to my Ipad –another AWESOME Apple quality! Then I hand the Ipad to the bride and groom for them to enjoy, then pass along to all of their guests to enjoy during the reception! I’ve booked weddings at weddings because of my Ipad‘s slideshow!
I am a worry wart, so I use multiple external hard drives to keep my images safe. I use two external hard drives. I use a Seagate 8T external hard drive that lives in one spot in my office. After every shoot, I export all the edited images to the Seagate, and then again to my portable traveling Lacie external hard drive. That way I have it stored in two separate locations, as well on Cloudspot program. I also bring my Lacie portable external hard drive to all of my weddings, where I start exporting my images on it during the reception just for an extra sense of relief so I don’t have to do it when I return home that evening.
3. External Lighting
I will be the first to admit that external lighting is not my jam, nor my forte. I have had to force myself to understand and use it, and I only do so at weddings or low lighting situations indoors. I would be lost without my Canon Speedlight 600 EX II-RT. I actually own two of these because I use one as a slave and one as a master during weddings. Since they speak well together, I can use my umbrella lighting kit to softly light my subjects in large dark rooms or even outdoors. This umbrella lighting kit is so inexpensive and so easy to set up! I can even use it during newborn shoots if the area in the home we are shooting is too dark, or if it’s cloudy outside and we have to shoot indoors.
Speaking of cloudy, the Westcott Light Reflector comes with me to every single shoot! I have purchased cheaper knock off versions–don’t! Their gold or silver sides will flake off all over the place!
4. Cards & Readers
I may be a weirdo, but I only like to shoot with 34GB cards or 64 GB cards. Call me crazy, but if something terrible happened, I would want it to happen with a smaller card (hence less will be lost). Since I don’t shoot much video or sports, 100 MB-170 MB is fine with me–and it actually makes me slow down while shooting so I don’t spray and pray. I keep them all safe in my Beeway Card Carrying Case. I actually lock it to my camera bag using small locking carabiner. As far as card readers, I use my Lention multicard reader. It’s small enough to carry to weddings, and another great reader would be the Lexar multi-card reader! It is actually a great way to download multiple cards after a wedding at the same time!
I would argue that investing in glass should come before investing in anything else. When I finally gave up my nifty 50 mm lens for my crop sensor camera, and went to purchase a full frame Sigma 50 mm lens, I was blown away. I know that you may be surprised that I don’t own a Canon 50 mm lens, but after a lot of research and talking with colleagues, we found that the Sigma consistently delivered more much more crisp images vs. its Canon 50 mm companion. Interesting, huh?! Same goes with the Sigma 35 mm lens. So darn sharp!! I am a huge fan of saving money for a better product! Sigma is awesome!
As far as Canon lenses, all I can say is WOW. My Canon 85 mm lens hardly ever leaves my camera body. That might amaze you if you’ve ever shot with it. It’s huge, heavy, and heavenly. To be honest, this lens sat in my bag for years and I never used it. Then one day, I told myself to challenge myself and keep in on for as long as I could. Before I knew it, I fell in LOVE with its unmatched bokeh! I also am amazed with my Canon 100 mm Macro lens. It’s image stablization feature is off the charts, and I can create the wedding ring shots of my dreams with this lens! Not to mention get those tiny baby toe shots that melt my heart! My Canon 70-200 mm telephoto lens is a must during wedding ceremonies! It’s well worth it’s price tag!
6. Camera Bags
The fun section! I have a small camera bag problem…I’m kind of all over the place, but each bag really shines in its own way! The one I use the most is my Lowepro Traveling Camera Bag. Often times in Montana, I am shooting in pretty rugged terrain and this bag stands up to even the toughest spots where we have to watch out for cactus! I love how I can pack multiple lenses and even two camera bodies in here!
Another incredibly versatile camera bag is hands-down my Think Tank Airport Take off rolling camera bag! I would seriously be lost without this bag for my weddings. The wheels and zippers are so sturdy and I can pack all of my extra lenses, batteries, flashes, ipad AND my computer in this thing! This Think Tank roller bag is a MUST for any wedding photographer!
If I am going on a special shoot where I want a more elegant bag, I love to take my Kelly Moore or my Ona leather camera bag. These bags are extremely high quality and should last me my whole life!
7. Business Programs
If you don’t read any other part of this blog, pay attention to this one! These transformed my hobby into a full time profession, and gave me the ability to upscale my business ten-fold!
First up: Showit Website Design builder! This company is seriously like family, and we meet up every November in Tempe, Arizona! Not only are they fabulous people, but they are so incredibly talented and helpful as you build the website of your dreams! If you end up using them, you can get a free month here!
Oh, Honeybook. This company organizes everything for me (that I used to put on paper…I’m old school). From contacts, to bookkeeping, to calendars, to contracts and invoices, to well, everything. All in one place! I use this company on a daily basis, and I love how it gives me a report every month for my business income, expenses, etc.! Grab Honeybook today to get organized and get 20% off your first year!
Cloudspot is my gallery delivery service, as well as my printing center! It allows for a seamless delivery service for my clients when they receive their images, and it is super easy to use! They are actually expanding soon to become a customer communications service, as well as a gallery delivery service so everything is all in one place! I love how I can connect Cloudspot to multiple national photo printing companies, and I have the ability to set the prices so my clients can actually print their investment on archival paper that will last a lifetime!
Of course on the editing side of things, I use Photomechanic to help me cull the images before I edit them! I do about 99.5 % of all of my editing in Lightroom! Once I edit the images, I throw them into Blogstomp to compress their size and pair them to create blogs or use them on my website. I also use Blogstomp to also create my bride and groom’s same-day slideshow!
Well, there you have it! I sure hope you found something helpful! Reach out or comment below if you have any questions!