Over time I have accumulated a ton of equipment. From lenses to accessories like reflectors and UV filters. All the gear people said I would definitely need, I eventually bought to experiment with. At one point, I was bringing an incredibly bulky and heavy camera bag to every session and didn't even use 85% of what was in it! In the last year or so, I sat down and really narrowed down the handful of items that were essential for the success of all of my sessions. This will vary for every photographer based on their style and what not, but here's an overview of equipment I make sure to bring on every photoshoot.
1. Camera Body, duh.
I shoot with a Canon 6D, though before that I shot with a Canon t2i for years and was able to do a lot with it while I was learning and figuring out my niche. I know plenty of photographers who always have a second camera body on hand (especially for weddings and larger events) -- but I've been able to get away with using one camera body.
Here's the video that actually made me decide to upgrade to the 6D. In the near future I'll put together a post on what led to my decision to upgrade to a new body. I know there's a ton of discussion on whether getting a new body is always the best choice, or if what you really need is a new lens. So we'll dive into that soon!
2. My Favorite Lenses!
I've written a blog in the past covering my go-to lenses for portraiture, so I won't dive too deep into it here. I will say I've messed around with and collected a lot of lenses. Most recently it was a pretty inexpensive 35mm that I wanted to have on hand for a birthing photoshoot. Which is handy on rare occasions but I don't bring it with me often.
But I've found that the three that work best for me are my Rokinon 85mm (which I recently found out they've made with auto-focus! Definitely getting that next!) and my Canon 55mm & 24-70mm lenses. The latter of which gives me a lot of range as a zoom lens. I tend to lean toward my fixed lenses since they're a fraction of the weight of the zoom lens I have on hand, but for event shoots (where you have a lot of moments to capture at a distance and close-up) the zoom is a life-saver.
3. External Flash
I admit it, I was super against ever using any type of lighting equipment. I was convinced that flash destroyed photos and made everything look cheap. But even with that perspective, some settings are just too dark. In my experience you need to get some sort of external flash; if for no other reason than it'll give you peace of mind.
I've botched so many shoots because I was too stubborn and inexperienced to use my flash. But once I gave it practice and started being more brave with it, I was able to really round myself out. I feel so much more comfortable in every shoot now because I have expanded my knowledge to using external flash in a tasteful way that enhances my style.
4. Backup Batteries
Bringing an extra camera battery has always been important to me. For a long time I'd only shoot with a battery grip because I was always worried I'd run out of juice. But I got really sick of a heavy camera making my hands and wrists cramp so about a year ago I ditched the grip. Having an extra fully charged battery (or two!) is a habit you should get into for sure if you haven't already.
What I'm still getting into the habit of is bringing extra AA batteries for my flash! Since flash is still a relatively new tool in my arsenal, I'm still not in the habit of bringing AA batteries as backup. On two occasions now I've thrown on my external flash for a shot, just to realize it was completely dead and I had no backups. Womp! Facepalm. Never again!
5. Almost Forgot...
Extra SD cards... which, like backup batteries, is a new one to me. I was always told to bring a spare SD card to longer events, but never thought to bring extras for shorter shoots. Until I got to a smaller shoot recently (see above) and the one card I had on hand completely malfunctioned. NOT IDEAL let me tell ya! Now, I always have a backup. Isn't learning from our mistakes just a blast? I guess the good news is that you can learn from mine!
And that is typically what you can expect looking into my backpack on a shoot! I've gone through phases where I'd bring my tripod to every shoot, bubbles and glitter for props, reflectors that I'd never use, and a whole bunch of fluff that just ended up lost at the bottom of my camera bag. Unused. Ultimately, my advice is to save yourself the trouble and narrow down exactly what you're using most.
What's in your bag?