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When I thought about shooting weddings I always held myself back because I didn’t think that I had the best camera or lenses in the business. There’s nothing that’s sets the pressure high than when you see the Bride’s “Uncle Bill” seated at the wedding and he pulls out his big zoom lens and massive camera- you know, to just take a couple shots. (side note: don’t show up an be that guy. It’s insulting to the photographer and the bride and groom hired, paid, and put trust in who they hired).

Even though this intimidated me in the past I have definitely changed my thought process on this. Just because someone has amazing gear doesn’t mean their images or work are amazing. The bride and groom hire their photographer for a lot of reasons. Hopefully the main one is because they love his or her style of work. I’ve shown up to many weddings where someone has asked me what gear I have, what f-stop I would shoot something in, or better yet, they show you some of the stuff they photographed. If you’re here and you are an aspiring photographer let me tell you this most important thing (because I know someone needs to see this). Your work is your work. No one can create it like you. Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and do the job you were hired to do. Stay in your lane and don’t compare to others.

Before I dive into the items I bring with me to a wedding I need to make sure you read this correctly. Learning how to use a camera is an art form. Some people think that expensive cameras mean they could just take over and shoot amazing things but I can honestly say that is not true. If someone were to hand me a Nikon camera I could turn it on and click the shutter but I wouldn’t have a clue how to do any settings. Not only are the settings important but also the lighting, color balance, and more. Think of it like you’re getting into a friend’s car. All the settings aren’t right, you might not know where all the right adjustments are. Yeah you can drive it but are you comfortable and doing it well? Also in order to drive a car in the first place you have to take a course and have practice.

Let me start off by saying that I had been shooting for nearly 12 years when purchased my first full frame camera and lens in August of 2020- and it wasn’t cheap. Then I realized after a couple months of owning it that the industry had changed the trajectory of their camera models. I know I didn’t “need” it but for someone who is constantly switching lenses, photographing weddings next to videographers and needed something quiet, and suffers with focus I decided to trade in for the new mirrorless Canon R6. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

WHAT I OWN:

I probably should have bought some other much needed lenses for my first RF lens but the 85mm is what I’m known for. I don’t just photograph weddings. I also do a lot more and primarily seniors sessions. In order to get my portraits how I need them I had to get the 85mm and instead of purchasing an EF lens and adapter I decided to go with the RF one and splurge a little on the cost for the longevity of it.

What you don’t see pictured are the many batteries I own for each day. I go through a lot of these so it’s important to have these on hand!

WHAT I RENT:

I should start off explaining that I love to shoot with prime lenses. I am constantly changing lenses throughout the day. I love how each lenses brings a different element of beauty. I’m also still using a few EF lenses with the R6 because I’m investing slowly and they are also pretty hard to find right now.

For those of you who don’t understand what different lenses are used for I’m going to break things down a little bit for you.

CANON MOUNT ADAPTER: This allows me to use to old EF lenses I used with my Canon 5D Mark iv camera on my new R6. Plus then I can change out lenses between that and my back up. For now this is what I plan to do until I buy a second R6 as a backup.

CANON 35MM 1.4 L USM: I use this lens as my go to for an instance where spaces are extremely tight. It allows shorter distances and can open enough to capture a lot of light. I also love to shoot family formals with this lens.

CANON 100 MM EF MACRO F/2.8L IS USM: This lens gives me the ability to get as close of a detail shot as possible. Some photographers might say that it’s not totally worth it to get this lens but I will tell you that this lens is second on my list to purchase. I’m a sucker for shooting details and this specific lens can focus and stabilize on the tiniest of details such as rings, beads on a dress, flower petals, jewelry, and more. This will be my next lens to purchase since it’s pretty cheap and I tend to rent it a lot.

CANON 85MM EF F/1.4L I USM: Now if you have are someone that owns a 50MM or a 70-200mm you might be wondering why this lens is even necessary. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. But if you add this to your collection you are going to get the most amazingly soft dreamy portraits you’ve ever taken. I actually was able to rent this one for a couple years and finally got it. I wish I could use this lens for everything however the only downside is that it needs the subject to be very still. I wouldn’t be shooting kids on that dance floor with this one.

CANON 70-200MM EF F/2.8L IS USM III: Let me start off by saying that this lens is quite a beast. It’s heavy and uncomfortable to shoot with. I don’t use it for a lot of the wedding but it’s important to have for the ceremony and reception. My second photographer will pull this lens out for when the groom is watching his bride walk down the aisle. I’ll also have them use it to capture the bride and groom exchanging rings, and for their first kiss. We then put it away until the reception when the speeches are happening. If I’m shooting alone I will use it on my second camera body to grab quick shots but otherwise I have my second shooter use it. Which brings me to the next item.

Second Camera Body: No one wants the fear of a camera malfunction during a wedding. Believe me, sometimes for no reason at all my camera can lock up and then I can’t do anything. This is why I recommend a second camera to any wedding photographer. It also allows me to have two cameras with go to lenses on to quickly grab multiple shots of the same thing but from a different prospective. I also recommend a second shooter because they can focus on the groom all day while I can focus on the bride. Not to mention during the ceremony they can grab shots of the family while I’m photographing the couple. Who doesn’t want a photo of mom in tears during the wedding?

CARLEEN CREATIVE BAG: It was difficult finding a bag that I could lug around a wedding day. Some photographers prefer a shoot sack but I like to have my bag open and ready to switch a lens as well. This is also where I keep my shot list so I can check it off throughout the day. This specific bag is designed for 1 camera body, and two lenses. However, if I’m holding my camera all day I can store 3 go to lenses and switch out as needed.

xoxo, Kara

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Hi I'm Kara. WEST MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHER, WIFE, AND MOM OF TWO. I STRIVE TO TEACH MORE ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY AND HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM YOUR IMAGES. I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE!

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