Tis the season for giving, receiving, and sharing, so for those of you looking to upgrade, invest, or just start into the world of professional photography, I wanted to share a peak into my photography gear arsenal.
FIRST OF ALL:
It's important to consider your specific needs, goals, and purpose for the gear you invest in, before you do the investing. When I first decided to jump into professional photography, I was intimidated by the price tag for this professional gear (mega-understatement alert), but I also knew that I was determined to be a professional so I needed to learn on pro-level gear to capture and deliver the kind of images I wanted to offer in my dream business.
If you're looking for a great camera to take on your travels or just a quality system for capturing better photos of your family through the years or recreationally, the gear I use is probably not the right fit for you!
Here, I'm just sharing what I currently use, but that doesn't mean I recommend it for everyone So use this resource as a reference for where you are and be sure to do your own research on brands and models that work for you.
Lastly, no one is paying me to share these links or resources (yet!); I just love the products I've researched and in invested in and want to share them with you!
BODY 1: Nikon D800 - My very first professional investment and baby for the first 3.5 years of business. I have since upgraded, and use this as a personal, travel, and back-up body.
BODY 2: Nikon D810 - my main squeeze for all professional shoots. Super happy with it and love the easy and accessibility of Nikon.
The starter workhorse : AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F1.4G
I purchased this lens when I first bought my D800 and worked solely with those two powerhouses for the better part of my first year. It was a huge investment for us so I made it work while I learned the ins and outs of my camera and working with a prime lens!
The special occasion: AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
When I started second shooting weddings in my first year, I added the 70-200mm to my lineup for ceremony shooting. But as I quickly phased weddings out of my regular offerings to focus solely on family photography, I used my 50mm for 80% of my shoots for those first few years. Now, I use it as little as possible, mostly for my occasion wedding or event a few times a year. It's just too heavy and hard to maneuver for my documentary style of shooting/running around with kids, and I choose to shoot entirely with the quick and actively engaging prime lenses whenever possible!
The wide angle: AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D
I added this baby to my bag just last year when I felt the need to expand for more documentary angles and a tool for shooting in tight spaces or large landscape. I didn't/couldn't invest a lot for a very low aperture, so I settled with the 2.8 and it's been pretty great for those specific situations, as well as what I started using as my go-to walk around or travel lens to replace my 50. I soon realized, however, that my ideal style was somewhere in between, which is when I decided to add one more to the bag.
The All-Purpose favorite / my gear baby: AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
My new favorite. This baby has now completely replaced my 50 as my primary workhorse in both business and personal shooting. It gives the perfect balance of wider scope without warped edges, is powerful and quick in low light, is great for newborn and family documentary shooting, and provides me the ability to capture unique angles while also moving in close (but not toooo close).
If you're looking to just invest in just one lense to start or a great all-purpose lens -- this is your ticket!
The pinch hitter: SB-700 AF Speedlight
This is another I maybe use a few times a year. I bought this with my 70-200mm lens when I was still figuring out my niche and shadowing in weddings. I do pull it out sometimes when I have a low-lit reception, but that's really it. My camera has such powerful ISO and I so rarely find myself in those situations, that it's a good back-up to have "just in case" but mostly stays on the bench.
Kelly Moore Tote and Camera Bag - beautiful and all-purpose (yes, this has served as a diaper bag, airport carry-on, combo camera + purse, and the one bag that can pack it all for my client photoshoots)
I started out with a basic Lowpro that could house one body and two lenses with accessory pockets, and also have a Lowpro hiking pack for more adventurous shooting :-)
I always shoot with a strap because I engage a lot with my clients during a session, which means the camera is sometimes completely off to the side while I position, play, or walk to a new location. I don't want to pack it away completely so it's accessible to capture a quick moment, which is why a long strap that keeps the camera at my hip is such a great tool. Also, when shooting newborns and kids especially, straps are an essential for safety as I'm often shooting from above or very close and don't want to eliminate all risk of dropping that gear .
Lightweight, fun, cute, washable, and easy to switch on and off. I've worn this one a ton and always get compliments on it!
Strap 2 (my professional strap for the D810) - this is a step up in durability and functionality. I love the pocket for my lens cap (which I'm always loosing) and it's monogrammed in the shoulder strap with my initials!
MISC. MUST HAVES:
I mentioned before that my bag transforms drastically for different occasions, which means that sometimes this category is filled with changes of toddler undies, crayons, and snack baggies, but for a shoot day, these are the standards that fill my pockets.
Photography related, I'm always sure to have an extra battery and cards (just in case!), + a lens duster and cloth for on location touch-ups of my gear. I work with lots of kids (obviously) so hand sanitizer is a must before and after. I also tuck in my go to-lip balm and healthy snack and get a favorite podcast in queue for travel!
So there ya have it! Investing in photography gear is a slow and steady process for most, and always worth doing lots of research and testing before diving in to be sure each piece will serve your needs well.
I hope this provides you with some good insight or a starting point for your own search and I'd love to hear your experience or questions regarding any of the products above! Leave your comments below or reach out with an email any time :-)