“If my bag could talk, it would likely be out of breath. We set out about five years ago with the intent of merging wedding photography with some form of lifestyle adventure photography. The pace of work is pretty extreme and juggling 30 weddings a year all across the country leaves my bag playing a lot of different roles.”
Any given Saturday, my bag’s packed out with 2-3 cameras, 6-7 lenses, and multiple speedlights, not to mention 4 sets of wireless triggers, extra batteries, and a million random little accessories that get pulled out in a pinch. As much as our team partners up on most of our shoots to give somebody the lead and somebody the freedom to sit back and observe, I’m nearly always carrying two bags along for the ride. One sits in a corner packed full of everything I should need if things start to get intense; and one holds just the bare essentials on my back.
Life as a wedding photographer is pretty packed full of stereotypes, but the reality of a day with us is a 10-hour workout in a full suit and loafers, so my bag has to be able to climb, jump, crawl, and run along with me all while looking as slick as a tailored suit at the front of the aisle.
We don’t mess around with your typical wedding day photos, but spend a lot of our time working to tell the stories inside the stories. Finding that angle all day long, not to mention taking our couples pretty far off the beaten path for couples’ photos, means our bags have to be tough and capable.
As much as I tailor my look wedding to wedding, wearing black tie to a formal wedding or a blue suit and brown loafers to a garden wedding, I swap bags out just as much. Carrying the Echelon Attache and Roller to formal weddings, the ProTactic 450 to weddings where I know I’ll need to really monkey around, and even a Toploader when I’m trying to keep a low profile in an intense or emotional situation. My only loyalty to my bag is what best fits the situation.
The pace of shooting weddings means that we have to keep a lot of gear handy all day. When we’re on location for commercial shoots, or portrait sittings, I might be able to get away with a lens or two and a single body in my bag. But on a Saturday, I carry with me everything from 14mm – 200mm mostly in prime lenses (14-24, 35, 50, 85, 105 macro, 70-200) and an extra camera body so that I can have two options ready at a split second.
The goal for us isn’t to play the fly on the wall, but to be every bit inside the action, which means that not only are we often provoking the emotion, but we are also very close to it which just speeds up the process. There’s never a dull moment and our bag has to be up to the challenge of being easy to access with plenty of room for accessories. Card cases, small bags for film (yes, film), and even straps to hold a monopod (that almost never gets used) have to be available and still look slick enough to not throw off either our brand, or the guests when we come around.