Although I spend most of my freelance time shooting editorial and commercial fashion, I do shoot quite a few weddings throughout the year. It’s taken me over a dozen weddings to find the “right” gear and more importantly the system for using said gear. This past weekend I had the opportunity to try out a few pieces of gear that I now consider essential for creating compelling wedding day images and in turn making clients happy.
Unless I’m in a studio setting or shooting a group, you’ll probably find me using speedlights. I like the portability and ease of use when it comes to speedlights. But, with any strobe a good diffuser is a must have. A bare speedlight can be cool, but produces an extremely harsh light that can make your subject unappealing if your not careful. I had heard of the Apollo series from Westcott and had borrowed an Apollo softbox before, but never in an “on the go” situation. A few weeks ago, I decided to give it a go and ended up using it the entire shoot, even though I had all my studio lights and modifiers with me. When I need that extra dramatic rim or a soft pop of face light, the Mini-Apollo is a perfect tool. It’s small and sturdy and fits right into any umbrella hotshoe holder. So from fashion to weddings to any portraiture, if you need that pop of light without the extreme harshness, get a Westcott Mini-Apollo.
I’m a super fan of Black Rapid products. My current strap is the RS-4 single sling, I have used this strap religiously with zero failures for over a year. However, using multiple camera bodies and big lenses can be tiring and arduous in any situation. Along with my RS-4, I would also lug around another body with a regular Nikon strap – my neck and shoulders would be in pain by the time the reception came around. So when I saw that the RS-DR1 was an option, I jumped on it. I had two camera bodies and two lenses hanging for 10 hours and when the bride and groom made their exit, although tired from the long day, I was ready to shoot more. I wasn’t sure how comfortable this “harness” would be, but it proved its worth in gold and when shooting weddings, I’ll never go back. The strap can be intimidating at first and may be “overkill” at first glance, but when you lock everything in place, it’s the comfort that matters and more importantly the shots you capture.
When shooting weddings I like to have a small bag to carry items such as extra lenses, memory cards, lens caps, timeline, iPad, iPhone, gum – all the necessities. When I first saw the Think Tank Retrospective 5, I found it to be the perfect size. The Retrospective 7 is great but simply too big and bulky for what I needed. The 5 was something lightweight, but large enough to handle a couple of lenses. After using it for the first time this past weekend, I feel in love. The strap is comfortable and the bag has numerous pockets to place all the odds and ends that come in handy for a photographer. I just love the fact that you have the option of using it in “silent mode” i.e. no Velcro, which can be extremely distracting at a quiet ceremony.
- Clay Cook