for photographers – faq by an award-winning wedding photographer – kansas city & denver

I get a lot of the same questions from photographers/aspiring photographers so I decided to put the answers all in one spot.

WHAT CAMERA/LENS DO YOU USE?
Camera Bodies:

Canon 5D & Canon 5D Mark IIIs

Lenses:16-35mm 2.8L24-70mm 2.8L

70-200mm 2.8L

50mm 1.2L

85mm 1.2L

Flashes:

A couple of 580EXIIs & some fully manual Yongnou 560II flashes (you don’t always need a ton of flashes with all of the bells and whistles. these are cheap and work!)

Lights:

4 – Alien Bee 800s with grid spots & a Pelican case filled with extension cords and power strips. I have a bag full of light stands of all sizes and weights, plenty of collapsable Westcott umbrellas, a collapsable softbox with attachment for a flash (I’m still working on finding one that doesn’t get trashed over the course of one wedding season) and sandbags to hold it all down! I also bring a portable power source – the Vagabond from Paul C. Buff is a great one. I also have a stash of pocket wizards, cords and other miscellany.

I also always bring a goody bag stuffed with painters tape, gaffers tape, clamps, rubber bands, etc. You never know when you need to tie something down or rig something up!

WHERE DO YOU BUY YOUR CAMERA GEAR?

It depends. I’m notorious for price shopping. I’m not cheap. I’ll pay for quality. I just don’t like to pay more than I have to, which helps keep my prices lower for my clients.  I search on Amazon, B&H and use pricegrabber.com. I also buy lenses through other trustworthy photographers on sportsshooter.com. I look for well-cared for, pristine equipment and always make sure there’s some kind of coverage to save me if it doesn’t come as described. I also purchase some gear through Christian Photo in Des Moines, Iowa. I worked there in high school!

I’M THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER AND INVESTING IN PROFESSIONAL EQUIPMENT. SHOULD I GO WITH CANON OR NIKON?

I am a happy Canon shooter, but I know lots of happy Nikon shooters. Both are good systems. Canon image color and variety of AMAZING lenses are what make me jump for joy, but Nikon cameras have less focusing issues (so I’ve heard).

WHAT LENS SHOULD I GET?

That’s a tough question! My personal favorite is my newest prime, but starting with a zoom lens (24-70mm was one of my first lenses) might be a good place to start as a good quality, practical, versatile lens. If you’re going to shoot primes get ready to change lenses frequently! I like my couple of primes for very low light and other specific situations.

SHOULD I GET BACKUP EQUIPMENT?

Definitely! That’s all I have to say about that!

HOW DID YOU GET INTO WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY? WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?

I have a degree in Photojournalism from the renowned University of Missouri – Columbia journalism school. I also have a Political Science degree – just because. I have gradually made the switch from newsy/journalism to weddings, but I really do love both. I love telling stories. I love variety, it keeps me fresh and thinking in different ways. I also attended photography workshops and conferences, practiced, studied other photographers’ work, worked with local photographers, spent LOTS of time reading information on forums and blogs, practiced, practiced and practiced some more.

CAN I WORK/INTERN/SECOND SHOOT/THIRD SHOOT FOR YOU?

Feel free to send me your resume and a link to your portfolio. I’m happy to look over your portfolio and keep your information on file and will contact you if the need for an intern/second shooter arises.

DO YOU RECOMMEND GETTING INSURANCE/THROUGH WHICH COMPANY?

Yes. My policy is through PPA. Lots of photographers also use Usher & Hill.

I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER TOO! DO YOU WANT TO MEET FOR COFFEE SOMETIME?

I’m not much of a coffee drinker (!) but I’d love to grab some chai with you if there’s time in my schedule!

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE?

Yes. Travel. The world is an amazing place. And at least try yoga. It keeps you strong so you can lift that heavy gear. It also helps work tension out of sore muscles from all the crazy positions we twist ourselves into when shooting.

Photography-related?

Practice, practice, and practice some more. You can learn a lot from books, forums, blogs, webinars, etc., but you’ll REALLY start to figure things out when you get out and use your camera.

Analyze your photos/sessions and keep a notebook where you keep a record of what you learn each time you shoot. I know I learn something nearly every time I shoot a session/wedding and it’s nice to have it recorded all in one place!