After 6 years in the biz, I have so many photography gear recommendations. This blog is for everyone from beginner photographer just getting started to the experienced photographer looking to get some insight or ideas. Everything you read here is absolutely based on opinion, but I only recommend gear that I personally use day in and day out.
My ride-or-die camera since Day 1 has been my Sony Alpha A7 III. I made the choice to go with mirrorless when I first started out because I read that they were growing in popularity and capability. I also chose Sony because they were leading in the mirrorless world over Canon and Nikon at the time. I can confidently say that I love everything about it – the speed of the focus, the way it handles low-light situations, and the color profile of Sony. When making a decision that works for you and your business, definitely do your research! All brands make incredible cameras.
I recently added a Sony Alpha A7 IV to my collection, but the software definitely has a growing curve compared to the A7 III – it’s taken me a little bit longer to be quick about changing up my main settings. Even with the learning curve, I absolutely love the larger grip, the fully-rotating lcd screen, and the overall feel of the newer camera body, so I’m excited to see what it brings!
My general go-to lens within my photography gear collection is my Sony 35mm F1.4 GM lens. I find that it is tack sharp and handles such a large range of lighting options. Personally, I prefer prime lenses over zoom, especially for portraits. The 35mm is a great focal length for outdoor portrait sessions, but still gives you plenty of space for small indoor sessions, such as studio family, maternity, or boudoir.
For weddings, and sometimes even for portrait sessions, I’ll bring out my Sony 85mm F1.4 GM. The bokeh on this lens is STUNNING and to say that the focus is tack sharp would be an understatement. Of course, the “downfall” is the distance that I typically have to be from my clients, but it works well for wedding ceremony situations where I need to stand back a bit.
I also keep on-hand a Sony 135mm F1.8 GM. I don’t bring this one out too often, but it has been very helpful for certain wedding shots. I really enjoy shooting with this lens for church settings when I want to stand all the way behind the guests.
My flash that I bring to every wedding and indoor portrait session is the Godox V860 III. I carry 2 of them in my gear box – one on each camera body when working weddings. They come in two options – one with replaceable batteries, and one with rechargeable batteries. I find that the rechargeable battery lasts incredibly long during a dark reception, and I rarely have to replace them. When I used the replaceable batteries, I was constantly replacing them at inconvenient times. Definitely go with the rechargeable option if you can. I’m also a huge fan of the rotational light to give me options on flash direction when I need.
In addition to the flash itself, I ALWAYS attach a MagMod Diffuser to both flashes. The MagGrip is a flexible, but very strong and sturdy, magnet frame that wraps around the light of your flash so that you can easily attach and replace MagMod accessories. I love the MagMod Sphere. I’ll say it again. I LOVE THE MAGMOD SPHERE. It provides ample light, little to no harsh shadows, and makes all of my flash photography look so natural and well lit. Added bonus, it’s made of a soft, silicone-like material so it can get thrown around in just about any bag or box that your gear is stored in. Again, I carry 2 – one for each flash. MagMod also has color gels and directional light bouncers – all extra accessories for you to try out and play with.
If you want to experiment with off-camera-flash, then I recommend adding the Godox X2T flash trigger to your photography gear collection. Incredibly easy to use with very little learning curve and low-key on top of your camera body and in your gear bag.
For fun, I’ll often set up the Godox TL60 RGB Tube Lights at receptions or for grand exits. On Amazon, you can get these in a pack of 4 with stands and a case. I absolutely love how easy it is to make adjustments to them in terms of color, brightness, and warmth. They make for popular lighting settings while the party is going (set the color setting to shuffle), and I love adding them as backlights during grand exits. A little pricey, but worth EVERY penny.
Mini On-Camera Light – I use this on occasion when I need a little bit of a bump in my lighting. This thing works magic when it comes to iPhone videos and images when I need to post something for social media. Inexpensive, wireless and portable, POWERFUL, and super easy to use.
Brace yourselves… this one might be lengthy. Photography gear accessories are my favorite 😉
With every wedding and portrait session, I don’t leave my house without my camera harness. It’s a dual strap, leather harness that easily connects to two separate camera bodies. It screws in at the bottom, and has a separate clip strap just for extra safety. I honestly would not survive a wedding without this thing. It gives me the flexibility to switch between my two camera bodies / two different prime lenses very quickly, but it also gives me the option to completely free up my hands when and if I need. The straps that connect to the cameras slide up and down the harness itself, so switching between the two camera is an absolute breeze. I also love how secure AND comfortable it feels. I never feel too much of a strain on my back, nor do I feel as though my gear is at risk of being damaged.
SD Cards – These really are all pretty similar, but I love using the Sony M Series SD cards. I never really shoot with anything less than 128 GB, and the faster the write speed, the better. I usually look for anything with a 277 mb/s write speed or faster. When shooting in batches (think .gif images) – those fast write speeds will either make or break those shots.
Batteries – No seriously, get extra batteries. When I shoot a wedding, I bring with me no less than 8 batteries total. I’ve never needed all of them, but I have them if I do. Same thing with your flash batteries. Bring extra.
For my every-day portrait sessions, I like to use my SmallRig with extra handle on my camera body. 10000% personal preference. But I find that the extra handle is a little easier to carry around when and if I choose not to utilize my harness. Plus the rig itself adds a little extra layer of protection on the camera body. The options with a SmallRig are limitless in terms of accessories and set up.
I’m part of the 1% that cares deeply about my lens caps LOL. So if I lose one, I always make sure to have these universal lens caps readily available. I was raised that if you take care of it, it lasts longer – so I take care of my gear all the way down to the lens caps.
Light stands are always helpful for those instances where you want to use off-camera-flash. It doesn’t hurt to have a few spares. I have 2 or 3 that double as tripods for my phone – makes things nice when I want to take “behind-the-scenes” shots or video footage.
The Lens Flipper is another cool accessory that I bring with me (mostly) to portrait sessions. If I just have one camera body and one main lens that I plan on using, I’ll bring my Lens Flipper with the other lens just in case the opportunity arises. Basically, it has the bracket to hold your specific camera lens on both sides. You attach one, remove the other. Easily flip between two different lenses without the hazard risk and time of keeping one stored somewhere else. 100% purchased for convenience, and 10/10 recommend.
Lens Cleaning Wipes are something else that I keep with me at all times. Remember when I talked about taking care of your gear? Here’s another quick and easy way to wipe down your lens and remove any dirt, debris, or smudges – keeping your images crystal clear. Bonus points is that they are individually wrapped, so you can throw a few in your camera bag no problem.
A tool set – the SmallRig tool is truly universal. You never know how often you need to tighten a tiny camera accessory, light stand, or adjust your SmallRig, but let me tell you… it’s going to happen. Using a multi-tool is something I use almost every single time I work. You don’t need it… until you do.
A ring light is another useful piece of gear that I was pleasantly surprised with. When in studio, you would be shocked at how well a ring light works for soft-window light and harsh-contrasting light (great for boudoir!). It’s incredibly versatile and portable, and can even be helpful for reels / TikTok content creation. Again, inexpensive and useful. You can find several different kinds on Amazon, but I like this one because it comes with a carrying case, and warm and cool color filters.
If you’re a mass collector of SD cards like me, then I highly recommend this carrying case on Amazon. It keeps all of mine super organized with labels, and it’s waterproof for extra safety and insurance.
Like everything in this blog, another personal preference of mine is carrying bags. I MUCH prefer my hard and watertight cases to carry my photography gear, and I don’t carry a bag during sessions or weddings. I bought an inexpensive one from my local Harbor Freight, and it holds my most expensive gear – camera bodies, flashes, lenses. Everything else I carry in a soft-carry travel case for electronics. The hard case that I purchased includes the foam inserts that I can easily rip out and adjust to what I need, but, of course, once I do that, then it’s semi-permanent without me having to re-purchase additional foam. I like the Pelican cases with the adjustable inserts. If you’re considering this over a camera bag, then I recommend “sizing up” – get one that will grow with you as you expand your photography gear collections.
Get you a fanny pack or crossover sling bag to carry all of your photography gear for weddings. MAN, this thing is also a lifesaver. In addition to my harness, I always have my little fanny pack. It carries spare batteries, my multi-tool, extra SD cards, my phone, keys, and wallet. Think of it as your wedding survival bag. It doesn’t matter what it looks like (mine was super cheap off of Amazon, and I got it in two colors), but get one.
I use my Apple iPad Pro 11″ for so much – including mobile editing, social post scheduling, emailing, and general on-the-go business. I plan on talking more about the mobile editing use in my post-process workflow, but my iPad comes with me EVERYWHERE.
I also plan on talking more about software and technology in another post, but I highly recommend the Sabrent Hard Drive Tray-Less Docking Station and the Seagate 16TB HDD hard drives. I store every image (raw, edited, and web-optimized) on these hard drives, and I run all of my software on them as well. It helps to keep my computer running smooth and QUICK.
live in the moments