My first DSLR was a Canon t2i. My mom bought it for me once Cameron was born in 2012, and that’s when this whole journey took off! I thought that camera was BOMB and the kit lens on it was magic! I had no idea what was in store as far as quality until I started purchasing the real stuff, it has blown that starter setup out of the water.

Here is everything I have in my arsenal, when I use it, and what I think about each piece.

Canon 5D Mark III

I have never used a Nikon camera, so I can’t compare the ins and outs of the two, but for me, this camera just makes SENSE when a Nikon doesn’t. I remember when it was time to upgrade the Canon rebel, I was standing in Best Buy just looking at the back panels of cameras, and I was very comfortable with Canon already. That’s my simple backstory of why I am a Canon shooter. This camera in my opinion is absolutely necessary for weddings and I’ll tell you why. First, dual card shooting. I can’t trust a client’s wedding images on one card because sometimes cards just fail. This camera allows me to shoot on two separate cards at one time, which gives me such piece of mind. The only other way around this is to constantly change out your cards every hour or so, but goodness that is time consuming and even then if a card failed, you still didn’t have them backed up anyway. Dual card was a huge reason I upgraded. I also love that this camera has a silent shooting mode. While it’s not literally silent, it’s quieter. I always feel terrible for being noticed at a wedding ceremony, so this little change helps me feel a little less bothersome. I could go on and on, between custom settings you can lock, the image quality at high ISO ranges… this camera is just a beast. I have no complaints other than “Why doesn’t this camera multiply if I feed it after midnight?”.

Canon 6D

The camera body that changed EVERYTHING. If you have a starter level camera, you will die when you buy a full frame. Just flat out take a photo, look at it, and fall over dead. There is sometime about a full frame you didn’t know you were missing when you were on a crop sensor starter camera. I had to be so far to use my little 50mm 1.8 because it was basically acting as an 85. I couldn’t shoot anything in my house really. And goodness if I had to crank my ISO higher than 800 on my t2i, we were done! This camera is a dream. I don’t think it’s a camera for a wedding photographer for the reasons listed for the mark iii, but I think if you are any other type of photographer, this is a great option for you. The low light capability is a dream.

Canon 85mm 1.2

This is the lens I would sell my family for. This is my baby. This is what lives on my camera. This is my style. This lens is practically every single portrait you see from me. Engagement sessions? This lens (or the 50 if I couldn’t use this due to space). Wedding portraits? This. I will even bring it out for toasts, some dancing, if there’s a moment I can do it with my 85, it’s happening with my 85. I cannot beat the compression and the bokeh. I have owned the 85 1.8 and I just didn’t love it. In fairness, I never had them at the same time.

Canon 35mm 1.4

This was probably the third lens I ever owned. It BLEW ME AWAY. I remember photographing things up close, so much closer than I had ever been to a subject. I was so excited about the 1.4 capability. I have no complaints with this lens, it’s light, it’s not long, it’s necessary. However, I really don’t use it much anymore unless I have to. My general rule is if I can’t fit what I need to fit in the frame with my 50, this guy comes out. It definitely makes an appearance at least once per wedding (indoor spaces, large wedding party groups in a tight spot) but I’ll never choose to use it now. I bring it to engagement sessions and most of the time don’t put it on the camera.

Sigma 50mm ART 1.4

The lens that I left Canon for! This is my second latest purchase. I came from the Canon 50mm 1.8 to this lens, and it is just a workhorse. This is on my camera about a third of the time through a wedding. There is really never a reason this lens will not work in a situation. The cons, it’s heavy. It’s the heaviest prime lens I own. But it’s not that serious, it’s still worth the purchase. This is basically the entire reception lens and family portrait lens. Disclosure, I have not tried the Canon 50 1.2, but from the online conversation and research about it being sharper and more affordable, I went with the Sigma and don’t regret it for one second. This lens is about half of the images in an engagement session, with the remainder being the 85 1.2.

Canon 16-35mm 2.8

If you are wanting to photograph people and aren’t sure where to start with equipment, this is not it. This was my latest purchase, I wanted to try a wide angle for some fun reception dancing and large groups in front of a pretty landscape. It does what I need it to do, I just don’t want anyone else to think it’s a great lens for people. For a wedding, this is completely unnecessary. Completely. There are plenty of weddings where this doesn’t even come out. It’s proven to be useful when I want to photograph a tall church and I can’t walk back any further, or I am in such a tight space that my 35 is still not enough. So rare. And it’s honestly not even that awesome. I wish I would’ve purchased something different! This is the first of two lenses that I’m not crazy about, but this isn’t the one that I hate.

Canon 100mm 2.8

This is the first L series lens I purchased. It made ZERO sense for this to be my first lens but I had no clue then. I thought I wanted to photograph newborns! And then I did, with my 50 1.8 and with this and I quickly decided newborns were not for me. The good news is, this lens is necessary for a wedding photographer for detail shots. Rings, jewelry. That’s literally the only time this lens comes out of my bag. Around 2013, I photographed a ton of families and this was my go to portrait lens. It is a KILLER portrait lens, don’t let the macro word fool you. You are not limited to macro with this bad boy. I don’t use it for portraits anymore because I don’t want to be limited to a 2.8 aperture, but it has created some beautiful stuff for me.

Canon 135mm 2.0

I feel bad for this lens because it never gets the attention it deserves. It’s so standard to talk about a 50, talk about a 70-200, that this guy can kind of get lost. But this 135 is killer. I prefer it over by bulky 70-200 any day. It’s light, it’s not oversized, and with a 2.0 aperture, you can allow more light in than a 2.8. I used to use this as a portrait lens before I had an 85, the focal length is a bit too far for my comfort. At this point, I only use this during a ceremony. If I were only photographing families, I would never own a 70-200, it would be this guy! Seriously consider this lens!

Canon 70-200mm 2.8

I hate this lens. People LOVE this lens and I hate this lens. I literally get hand and wrist pain from dealing with this lens. It is SO OBNOXIOUSLY LARGE for me and the prime lenses I am used to carrying the weight of. I never use this lens unless I have to, and I only ever have to in one scenario- a wedding ceremony where I need to go in closer than my 135 will allow me. Normally I start with my 70-200 so I can have zoom freedom, and then assess if I can take it off and switch. Sometimes the situation allows, sometimes I need it and I keep it. Once the ceremony is over, it comes off and I glare at it and don’t look at it again. It seriously doesn’t even stay in my bag afterwards because I hate it, I put it in my car! It’s a brick!

Yongnuo flashes

I use Yongnuo flashes because I would not enjoy taking a couple hundred dollar bills and throwing them out of a moving vehicle. That is (in my opinion) essentially what the difference is between this off brand flash and Canon’s brand flash. I need to be able to hit a button and have a light source consistently fire light. If you can do that, I’m good with you, and Yongnuo is doing that for SO many of us. Flashes come on at the reception after dark, I don’t use them beforehand unless I absolutely need to (and that has happened in some getting ready locations).

Yongnuo triggers

Same as above, I need something consistent that tells my flash to fire when it’s not on my camera. These triggers are working fine for me! My normal set up is to have the YN622C-TX on my camera, which controls the other two flashes off my camera. I can change the power of each flash separately, and I can turn one flash on and one flash off separately all from that one trigger on my camera. Simple as pie. (Who came up with that phrase? Pie seems HARD).

Columbia, SC Wedding Photographer | Jessica@JessicaRobertsPhoto.com