What gear is necessary for photographers?
There is a lot of information out there about what gear is best for photography and what you should buy to be a "professional photographer". When I first started diving into turning my hobby into a business I remember reading a quote that still sticks with me today.
"Never buy new gear until you have hit the ceiling with the gear that you already have"
This was the best advice I could have stumbled upon. Great gear does not make a great photographer. How much of what makes great photography is how a photographer utilizes light, not necessarily the most expensive gear. This is GREAT news! Until you have learned everything about your current gear and have utilized it to the best possible level that it can perform at, you shouldn't upgrade. I am a bit of a minimalist at heart, so I don't like to own a bunch of gear just for having it. I want everything in my camera bag to have a specific purpose and to be used often.
As you read what I have in my camera bag I hope that you are encouraged, inspired, and empowered to use what you already have!
I may be compensated via the links clicked in the article.
This was a recent purchase for me. I was and had always been a Nikon girl. I bought my very first Nikon (crop sensor) when I was in college and I learned everything about DSLRs on that camera. I photographed my family as well as other families with it. It is what helped me grow my hobby into a business! Using that quote from above as my driving force, I made sure that I had hit the ceiling with that crop sensor before I upgraded to a full frame camera. After that crop sensor I upgraded to the Nikon D610, which brought me through my first year of wedding photography! I added a second camera to the lineup and purchased a Nikon D750 which landed me publications in Magazines and catapulted me into what Amanda Rai Photography is today.
Fast forward to Team A Rai growing and onboarding several associates and the release of mirrorless cameras. It made sense for the whole team to go Canon. I tried Nikon's mirrorless cameras and Canon's and ultimately I loved the R6 better.
I still have my Nikon D750 in my bag. I am emotionally connected to that camera. I can't let go of it. You get it right?
Canon EF 85mm 1.4
This is an EF mounted lens which just means you need the adapter to use it on the RF cameras (which the R6 is). I had previously owned the Nikon version of this lens and LOVED it for portraits so I knew once I made the switch I wanted this lens. I use the 85mm for engagement sessions and portrait time on wedding days. This lens gives the creamiest bokeh and crisp in-focus subjects. I have shot some of my favorite images from this lens.
I could absolutely upgrade and get the RF version of this lens but I haven't for two reasons. First, I don't feel like I've quite reached the "ceiling" on this 85mm so there would be no need to upgrade at the moment. Second, the RF version is HEAVY. My back already hurts after a long wedding day, so adding extra lbs to my bag just isn't something I'm super interested in at the moment. Maybe that will change in the future, but as of right now, I'm still loving this EF version.
Canon RF 35mm 1.8
Ahhh this lens has a special place in my heart. Remember earlier when I said I am a bit of a minimalist? When I can have a lens that is MULTI FUNCTIONAL...my heart sings. This baby seconds as a macro lens, which is incredible! Those close up super sharp ring shots you see from me? Shot with a 35mm. SAY WHAT?! I use this lens for the entire "getting ready" portion of a wedding day. The 35mm is my widest lens and it allows me to shoot in tight places, like hotel rooms and bridal suites. I also shoot all of my bridal details with this puppy. I also pop it on during open floor dancing at the reception. It is versatile and super light weight. Win, win my friend.
Canon RF 50mm 1.8
The nifty fifty! My most used lens. If you have a kit lens and are looking one what lens to purchase first...GET A 50MM. This sucker stays on my camera the most. I use it to shoot families, wedding ceremonies, and some portraits. When I first received the RF version of this lens I thought there had been a mistake. It is EXTREMELY light. And plastic. I thought surely this isn't a high quality lens. But oh boy yes it is. I love it and I bet you will too!
Why didn't I go for the RF 50mm 1.4 you ask? I'm sure you actually didn't ask that because you already know what I am going to say. Given the drastic price difference I figured I would try the 1.8 and see how I liked it. I was upgrading from a Nikon 50 1.4, so I was skeptical at first but willing to give it a try for the cost savings. I was pleasantly surprised at how the RF 50mm 1.8 performs. I'd say it performs better than the Nikon 50mm 1.4 I had. I am having ZERO issues with it, so until I hit a ceiling...I won't be upgrading.
Sandisk 64gb Memory Cards
64 gb is the amount of space available on the card. I am not an overshooter, I'm very intentional about pushing the trigger. I have never needed anything more than a 64gb memory card. I do know photographers though that need more memory because of the amount of images they shoot on a wedding day. The 170 mb/s is how fast the card will write the image onto the memory card. So if you are someone who clicks away very quickly, you will want this to be high! Sometimes we get a little excited. I get it.
Memory Card Holder
I love this memory card holder because the cards fit perfectly into the little slots. The holder is also water resistent AND the company claims you can run it over with a car! I'm not willing to test that claim, but that would be nice if they could withstand that type of pressure.
Whether you need to wipe your glasses or your camera lens, these are incredibly handy. Once you wipe the lens it dries almost immediately. You don't lose anytime waiting for the lens to dry. I love wiping the back of the camera and the viewfinder with these wipes too.
Flashes and Flash Stands
I never got fancy with my flashes. I started with this flash because it was the cheapest option with the best reviews, and I have never felt a need to upgrade. I just keep it simple. For these particular flash stands you need to buy the adapter seperately.
As a natural light photographer, I never want to put the light of my flash directly on my clients. It becomes all about bouncing and diffusing. I use two different diffusers, depending on the situation. First is the magmod diffuser (which requires this adapter..eye roll..). When in a large reception hall, I will also use an umbrella diffuser for the light that is hitting the subject straight on. I use this one!
Especially for my Canon. I never had any battery issues with my Nikon, that thing is a BEAST at battery life. I think I could shoot three weddings before I would need to recharge the battery. Canon on the other hand, only lasts about 5 hours. You will need to have a fully charged battery ready to go during the reception to get you through the end of the night.
My Camera Bags
I use two camera bags. One for weddings and one for portrait sessions. For wedding days I bring my Kamrette bag. It holds more and is SUPER cute. For portrait sessions I like to wear a smaller backpack because I don't need to bring as much with me. For my flashes and my backup camera I use a rolling camera gear suitcase. I looked everywhere to find a link for my LowerPro rolling camera suitcase but I guess they don't sell it anymore. I have heard great things about Think Tank cases from many of my fellow photographers though! It looks very similar to the one that I own.
Well there you have it. I hope that you feel empowered and inspired after finding out what is in my camera bag. You certainly do not need the latest and greatest to be a great photographer. If something is working and you don't feel that you have hit the ceiling on its capabilities, then feel free to leave well enough alone until you do. There is no need to purchase tons of expensive equipment that you aren't quite ready for.
Psst...before you go.
5 Ways To Take The Stress Out Of Wedding Photography
P.S. I also offer business coaching! If you are interested in hiring me as your coach (and number one hype girl) click here and scroll all the way down to contact me and see if we are a great fit!