A Little Insight.. | The Photography Business

In the past year, I've been asked by several budding photographers for my insight on a few photography and business related topics.  While I'm NO expert in either field and am still learning every day, I love helping out where I can.  Although I didn't have a mentor in the photography field, I was blessed to work for my Dad's business for 10 years and gained invaluable experience working with customers, bookkeeping, and general business knowledge.

50mm 1.2 shot at 2.0

Recently,  someone asked me for general advice when it comes to this field and business as well as what's in my bag.  As for general advice, well, that's a broad subject and I could literally go on for hours about it.  As for what's in my bag?  That's an easy one.

Since I'm primarily a wedding photographer, my equipment reflects that.

Canon 5D MIII - This is my main camera and, next to Aaron, the love of my life :)  It's focusing system and low light capabilities are crucial for wedding photography.
Canon 5D MII - This is a backup camera in case my primary stops working.
Canon 7D - This is a backup to my backup.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L - I use this lens a lot - it's on my camera 80% of a wedding day and 99% for portrait sessions.  I rarely shoot at 1.2, but knowing I have that much low-light capability is reassuring. 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L  - This is my main lens for getting ready photos and any time I want a wider angle shot.  I also use it during the ceremony processional. 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II - This is a must have for ceremonies because of it's low f-stop, focal length, and IS.  It's an amazing lens.  It's expensive, but crucial.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro - I only use this lens for details on a wedding day: rings, jewelry, flowers, etc.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L - This is a great workhorse lens.  I used it more when I first started, but now only use it for receptions.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L - This was my first professional lens so it has a soft spot in my heart :)  It's great wide lens, but not really my style.  The only time it is brought out is during the reception (usually by my second photographer) or if we need an ultra-wide shot in a church.
Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L - I bought this lens before I could afford the 70-200.  It's an amazingly crisp lens at a great price.  It's only downfall is lack of IS (image stabilization), which can be difficult in low light situations.

2x Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT - This flash is amazing.  Canon is the first company to use a built in radio transmitter, allowing the photographer to control both flashes from his/her camera.  I use these for receptions with one on camera and one off camera on a flash stand.  Also, I occasionally use the off camera flash with an umbrella for details.
Canon 580EX II - This is a great backup flash, but was discontinued when the 600EX-RT came out.
Canon 430EX II - This is a backup for my backup.  If you're still reading this, you might have figured out that weddings require a lot of backup equipment.

- TONS of rechargeable Duracell batteries for flashes.  I shoot with my flash in manual, so I have found that rechargeable batteries work fine, but if you shoot in ETTL you may need something else.  I also have 2 Lumedyne Battery Packs that I occasionally use.
- 3x Canon rechargeable camera batteries
- 252GB of 8GB and 16GB CF cards + one 128GB SD card for backup in my 5D MIII
- flash stand
- 42'' white umbrella
- reflector/diffuser
- Tripod - we only use this for family portraits and night time shots
- lens hoods

As you can see, A LOT goes into shooting weddings.  I'm a little bit of a nerd when it comes to photography, so I love it, but it can definitely be a little overwhelming at first.  I was a little apprehensive to answer the part about general information regarding the photography business since there is SO much to say, but two main thoughts came to mind.  The two most important things I can tell anyone starting out in photography are: learn your camera settings inside and out and become comfortable with them.  This is especially important for weddings.  Also, always use a contract for weddings and portrait sessions.  It's vital to know what your client expects from you and what you're willing to offer.  Everything else (flashes, lenses, reflectors, umbrellas, etc) are simply tools in your toolbox.

35mm 1.4 shot at 2.0

Unknown (October 31, 2014 at 10:54 AM)  

Your story is as beautiful as your photography, if I may say so myself. Your equipment base is also amazing, and I definitely agree with what you shared. A genuine and intimate understanding of one's tools of the trade is like the primary filler in the recipe for success. Thank you so much for sharing that! I hope your'e having a fine autumn!

Mitchell Carlson @ InsureYourCompany.com

Unknown (October 19, 2016 at 1:42 AM)  

the primary filler in the recipe for success. Thank you so much for sharing that! I hope your'e having a fine autumn!

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