FAQ: Gear – What’s In Our Bags ~ Chicago Wedding Photographers

I get a lot of emails from people asking what gear we use. I always put off posting this for various reasons, but I promised people this post for quite a while now…. and I’m not one to back out on promises. So here it is – finally!

However, I feel like I need to put out this disclaimer first…


So if you’re sitting at home claiming you have to have this lens or that camera in order to make your dreams come true… that’s bogus. Because you don’t. Yes, gear can help you make beautiful pictures – but it is first and foremost about the knowledge of the photographer behind the camera – than it is about L series lenses or crazy expensive camera bodies. OKAY? OKAY! 🙂

When I first started shooting digital all I had to my name was a Canon 20D and a 50mm 1.4 lens. Yup. And I used those babies like nobody’s business until I booked enough sessions to upgrade. I never once bought anything for my business on credit. We built this all from the ground up – paying for each new piece of equipment in cash after we had worked our tails off to have the actual money to afford it. And I’d advise you to do the same… because building a business on credit is a dangerous way to start. (At least in my humble opinion…) 😉

And last but not least – just because you see certain gear in this post doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy the same. Each photographer has a different shooting style and different needs tied to that. I rented every lens before buying it to make sure it was the right lens for our style! I suggest you do the same and see what lenses you really love and what makes the most sense for you and your business.

Okay – enough lecturing… let’s get on with the gear! 🙂


First I’d like to start off with a photo of the most important piece of gear we own…

Oh hey!! What do you know?! It’s us!! 😉 Did I already mention that knowledge is the best gear you could possibly own?! I did?

Okay – Okay… you get the point. On we go… 🙂


First off – we hold all our gear (minus the light stands/umbrellas) in two bags at the moment…

Think Tank Airport International v2.0


Kelly Moore 2 Sues Bag


We take both bags with us to weddings (J carries/wheels the Think Tank, and I take the Kelly Moore), and for engagements/regular sessions I take just the Kelly Moore bag. I used to use the Shootsac but started having the worst back pain from the cross body strap and also wanted something I could carry around that looked more like a regular purse/disguised that I was carrying gear (for when we weren’t shooting officially, but just traveling, etc) – so I picked up the 2 Sues Bag at WPPI last year and love it!


Next up is our lighting gear at the moment…

(2) Avenger Light Stands

(1) Travel-size Light Stand

(2) Umbrellas

(2) 600EX-RT Canon Speedlite

(2) 580EX II Canon Speedlite
(back-up flashes)

(1) Sunpak 383 Flash

(2) Pocket Wizard Plus II

(1) Comer CM-LBPS 1800 LED Light

Because we had the Mark II camera bodies this year, we weren’t able to use the 600EX’s to their full potential… and so during receptions James and I each had one on our camera, and I connected mine up to the Sunpak on a light stand off-camera via the Pocket Wizards. I know I’m weird, but I just love the simplicity of a simple, manual flash for off-camera. But I plan to change to using both 600EX’s this year so I won’t need the pocket wizards for 2013! Yay! (You can see more about my 2012 off-camera set-up in detail HERE.)


Oh hey – how did that picture get in there?! Chloe was zoned into me shooting the gear – so you know I couldn’t help but snap a pic of her! Cutie! (Also, obviously we own a bunch of SanDisk CF cards and lots of back-up batteries… seen below.)


On to the lenses…

70-200 f/2.8L IS II
(i.e. James’ baby! He loves for ceremony & getting candids from far away throughout the day.)

100mm f/2.8L Macro IS
(I use for details, ceremony, & an occasional portrait)

50mm f/1.2L
(i.e. my baby, which rarely comes off my camera)

50mm f/1.4
(J uses for guy’s prep photos mostly)

35mm f/1.4L
(dancing, family/bridal party photos, occasional portraits, & wider scene shots)

28-135mm f/3.5-5.6
(not pictured because I used it to take this photo & because we never use it… it’s back-up I suppose)


And cameras…

(2) Canon 5D Mark III

(2) Canon 5D Mark II

(1) Canon 20D
(not pictured because I used it to take this photo & we never use it)

Mamiya 645 Film Camera + 80mm f/2.8 lens
(Not pictured. This was the camera I learned photography on, and that I still use for personal work & an occasional engagement shoot)


And I guess while we’re at it – we can talk about our wish list… because yes – there is always more gear to invest in (eek).

We’d really love to add to our bags:

85mm f/1.2L (I would love this for portraits, & J would love to have a faster lens throughout the day than the 70-200)

50mm 1.2/L (James gets frustrated with the 1.4 for prep photos, so I promised him an upgrade at some point)

24mm f/1.4L (I would love to have something a little wider occasionally for dance floor & wide scenic shots)

(2) 600EX-RT Canon Speedlite (It would be great to get James these so he can transition to on/off camera without Pocket Wizards as well.)


There you have it! I think that’s it! Let me know if you have any questions about anything! I’m always happy to chat! xoxo!


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!