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Archive for March, 2011

That’s My Bag, Baby!

March 22nd, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

Six different shooters, six different styles of shooting, and six different loadouts! This week, we give you an inside look at all of our wedding bags. So grab a drink, sit back, and unleash you inner gear nerd!


My gear bag varies from assignment to assignment and from wedding to wedding. But I have a grab bag packed up in case I get called by the newspaper to cover anything local and immediate. Everything is included by how flexible and compact it is.

With the following collection of gear, I feel confident about shooting anything*.

d700 Nikon Camera body. I have two of these, and it doesn’t matter which one end up in the bag. Both are set with exactly the same settings. In fact, when I send my cameras off to get cleaned or repaired, I can load the settings onto a compact flash card. When the camera comes back, it’s all set up with the way I like it: focus on the back button (my fav!) and function buttons assigned just so. One body has a tripod mount on it and the other doesn’t. But I generally know before I leave the studio when I am going to shoot with a tripod.

85 f1.8. This is a great fast lens and a work horse. It has a banged up metal shade, I can wield it like a weapon if need be (when I am shooting in a clump of photographers, it’s very tempting to just knock it around a bit to get a little more real estate).

24 f2.4 A compact wide angle lens. It’s the size of a baseball and I love that about it. I can roll it into almost any shirt pocket. I’ve shot events with only the 85 and the 24 and been happy as a clam in a salt marsh.

50 f1.4 My fastest grab bag lens, and a great workhorse. Invaluable when going into dark environments or for a quickie portrait. I can visualize the angle of a 50mm lens with the accuracy of a robot.

The above is the bread and butter, but since there is still room in the bag (hint: If you love your spine, never buy a humungous photo backpack) I pack in two out of the following three, chosen entirely at whim:

15 f2.8 Sigma fisheye. Sometimes it’s awesome to show how vast something is. (Not a woman’s arms, but it’s famous for that, if you’re not careful)

60 f2.8 Macro. I keep this squired into a bottom corner of my bag. A macro shot can shake things up.

35mm f2 A nice, fast wide-ish normal-ish all around lens.

SB900 – I have no problems with this flash

sc-29, when you have to get that flash off your camera, right now.

All of this fits in my Tamrac sling bag, compact and secure. I can wear this all day long if I am shooting something where I can’t stash gear anywhere. When I have the waist strap on, it sits snugly on my back with everything at the ready.

*except a Sporting event or a Catholic church wedding. I have a 70-300 4.5 that I’ll use. The 70-200 2.8 is on my wish list. :)



My camera bag is primarily a lens bag at the wedding as my camera bodies are on me attached to my Spyder Holster. I’m often either working with two zooms or two primes, depending on the look I’m going for and and my bad holds the backup set of lenses.

I also have a lighting bag that stays in the car until the reception. It has all the gear I use for off camera lighting, including four speedlights, battery packs, radio triggers, various flash mounting equipment.

Main Camera Bag:
Bodies: Two Nikon D700′s & extra batteries

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR

Other Stuff
Think Tank Urban Disguise 50 Bag
SpiderPro Holster System
Nikon SB-900 Flash, Diffuser, plastic feet
Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries
Joe Demb Flip-It Bounce Card
Honl Speed Straps, Snoots, Grid
Piece of Black Foam
Nikon Flash Gels
Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket CF Card Holder
Mini Gaffer Tape



I work alone, so my goal is to make my gear as man-portable as possible. So, I arrive at a wedding with my 2 cameras strapped to my person. The Canon 5D MkII is clipped into my Spider holster with the 85mm f1.2 attached. The Canon 5D is around my neck with the Canon 24-105 f4 IS attached. Everything else I will need all the way up to the reception fits into the Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4. I love this bag. It is small enough to carry around easily, but has a surprising amount of room.

In the Tamrac bag I have:
Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS
Canon 17-40 f4
Canon 50 f2.5 Macro
Canon 35 f1.4
Sigma 15mm Fisheye
2x Canon 580ex
8x Extra AA Batteries (for flashes)
1 Extra battery for each camera
1 Sima LED Video Light
Business cards, Gels, Colorright White Balance tool, Compact Mirror (for bride…I’m not that vain).

When I get to the reception, I usually like to set up a couple of off camera lights. So I have a lighting bag that is easy to grab and carry into the hall.

In the lighting bag I have:
3x Canon 540ez (these are my primary off camera lights. I typically set up 2, the 3rd is a BU)
Pixel AA battery packs for the 540′s
Manfrotto 11′ light stands
Swivel umbrella brackets
Elinchrom Skyport Triggers
4x Flash Zebra flash cables
40 AA batteries
Manfrotto Clamps (to clamp flashes onto things)
Suction cup mounts (to suck flashes onto windows)
Diffuser cups for flashes

That’s all I need to light, everything else is ancillary, including:
Canon 580ex II, Canon 430ex II (Backups to my on-camera flashes)
2x Sunpak 383 (Backup to my off-camera flashes)
Honl Speed Grid
Backup wireless flash triggers (EBay variety)
Backup glasses (I usually wear contacts, and if I ever lost one I would be in trouble)
Snacks, Aspirin, Pepto Bismol

As you can see by all of the flashes I carry, I am a little anal about having enough backup gear…OK, maybe paranoid is more accurate :). But in addition to the gear listed here, I also have 3 more bags that rarely leave the car. One just has Sunpak 622 for when I need a lot of light to overpower the sun. One contains a complete backup kit with a 40D, Rebel XT, 2 flashes, an 18-55 IS kit lens, a 50mm f1.8, and a 100mm f2, plus extra batteries, flash cards, etc. I also have a grip that allows me to use AA batteries to power the Rebel. This bag is there in case I fall into a lake wearing my entire primary kit. I can grab the bag and keep shooting. And if I did fall into a lake, I would be dripping wet, so the third bag contains a complete change of clothes including shoes and socks!



Nikon 85 1.4
Nikon 60 2.8 macro
Nikon 35 2
Nikon 24 1.4
Nikon fish
2x SB-800
Spider Holster
2x 32gb Sandisk cards (I shoot RAW images in slot one on these cards)
2x 8gb Sandisk cards (I shoot backup JPG images in slot two on these cards)
4x 8gb Sandisk cards (backup cards)

I travel to most of my weddings and I photograph 75% of them by myself, so I have selected a kit that is lightweight and easy to transport. I shoot all primes, so that helps cut down on the size and weight of my bag as well.



My Bag to carry equipment is Crumpler the eight million dollar home.
It’s awesome for me, in that it does not look like a camera bag. I hate traveling with a bag that screams ‘expensive equipment in here’. Also, it’s a funky color, which I adore. Don’t like black bags .. boring! This bag is easy to carry around through airports, on subways, on trains, in cars. It fits in practically every overhead bin on a plane I’ve been on (with the tin can planes I just ask them if I can store the bag in the back of the plane, not in the wing, since it’s pricey equipment. They have never said no. Just be nice!)

The bag I wear while shooting is a Shoot Sac. It’s a simple shoulder bag, which I can carry a couple of lenses, flash, extra batteries for camera & flash, cords, gum, lip gloss and maybe a cereal bar or two. I don’t want a lot weighing me down, and this bag is easy enough to take off when I want in order to ditch the weight.

However, I always carry my think tank pixel pocket rockets (x2) on the Shoot Sac, clipped to the strap so they can’t fall off. If I EVER take the bag off, the card carries are removed and clipped to my person. Those cards go everywhere with me. I have one card case for unshot cards and the other for shot cards. I have a pretty specific system. Unshot cards are face up in the card case, shot cards go face down in the case. I will NEVER shoot on a card that is face down … no matter what. I have a spare Think Tank case in my Crumpler with some 2 gig cards as back up. No deleting in camera, no shooting on questionably cards. Ever. Never. No.

2 Nikon D3 bodies
1 28mm 1.4 Nikkor lens
1 50mm 1.4 Nikkor lens
1 85mm 1.8 Nikkor lens
(all lenses are D/AF)
2 SB800s
1 sd-8a battery pack
1 Vivitar 285 (for back up)
3 Pocket Wizard Tranceivers w cords

Not shown:

light stand(s)
2 sc-29 cords for off camera flash work
back up bag with camera body d300, extra flash, aa batteries,
sigma 15mm, manual nikkor 105 2.5
sometimes i carry my holga with me just in case i’m in the mood

I want my gear to be simple, easy. If I over complicate, I can’t think. I need it to be easy to travel with, quick to pack up. I don’t want to be shuffling loads of bags and gear around. I work alone and need to be able to handle whatever I bring in. I shoot with only primes, 3 tops. I typically stick with the 28 and 85 all day long. My flash is for off camera, however I’ll use my flashes however I need to to get the shot. I’ll use all my gear however I need to in order to get the shot.
But simple is key for me.
K.I.S.S. :)


I either shoot zooms or primes, depending on my  mood, the location, and feel.  I leave a reception bag in the car, my Tamrac, with lighting equipment  – flashes, light stands, Radiopoppers, batteries.

Epiphanie Belle bag, comfort, style and function. Love it.
Tamrac 3380 Aero 80 Photo Laptop Backpack, cushy and just the right size for traveling with my 17″ MacBook Pro.

Bodies :
two D3, one D700 backup that stays in the car

Lenses :
Nikon 24 F/1.4G
Sigma 50 F/1.4 EX DG HSM
Nikon 60 F/2.8G ED Micro
Nikon 85 F/1.4G
Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8G
Nikon 70-200mm F/2.8G VR

SpiderPro Holster System
Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket with 12 CF cards 4-16GB
Powerizer batteries
backup camera batteries

3 – sb-800
sd-8a battery pack
Radiopopper JrX system

2- Impact lightstands (in the car)
business cards and reception cards


The Wedding Photojournalists’ secret

March 16th, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

My little secret: The go-to bouquet shot

I pride myself as a photojournalist and on approaching every wedding uniquely. For the most part, I do. But every now and then, I find myself pulling an old favorite out of my quiver of ideas and employing the “Go-To” shot.

One of these go-to shots happens to be my favorite bouquet shot. I take the bouquet from the bride, direct the bride and groom to practice their first dance, lie the bouquet on the ground in some nice light, lie on the ground myself and presto, ten seconds and I have a very interesting photo of the bouquet. I do have some non-traditional couples, but almost of them do some type of first dance. Spending a few minutes “practicing” takes their mind off of me and gives them a chance to just connect with each other.

It makes for a nice environmental photo of their bouquet that that lends itself to a wall hanging and also makes a fantastic scene setter for opening the wedding album.


What are your go-to shots??


7 Quick tips to Git R Done

March 9th, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

I am a world class procrastinator, but I love being self-employed. So, I trick myself into getting things done. Here are some of my strategies:

1) I recommend the productivity method Getting Things Done by David Allen. The basic premise is to collect all of your to-dos and put them in a big inbox and then sort your tasks by the tool you need to use to get the job done. Then do the tasks using the same tool at once. Using the phone I make a dentist appointment, call my vendors, and call my mom. When I get in the car, I get what I need for the post office, the grocery store and the print order for my favorite venue. The book has a detailed step by step process and is my go-to system for when I get really overwhelmed. Check it out of your library.

2) Fifteen minutes a day: this is a technique I use when I have a massive job with lots and lots of steps that I desperately don’t want to do. Organizing for my taxes comes to mind. When I’m ready to quit work for the day, I put in my 15 minutes. Often fifteen minutes is just enough to get organized: I shuffle papers and figure out my starting point. I might come up across a problem in the fifteen minutes that I can’t figure out. In the following 24 hours, I usually figure out a solution or figure out who to ask for help, and I can bite off another chunk.

I’ve also used this as a one-off jump start. For instance, I procrastinate over putting together blog posts. In fifteen minutes, I can get my momentum going. I’ve used the “Tick-tock timer” which sets off a very satisfying chime at the end of the time. I’ve also used a kitchen timer.

3) The Seinfeld Method: This is a slight variation on this for establishing new habits that I would like to keep forever. Jerry Seinfeld once told a young comic that the key to success is to write every day. And to force himself to do this, he would get a big wall sized calendar and make a big X on each day that he wrote. Once a string of X’s line up you don’t want to break the chain. I’ve used it for working out more than for photography or business.

4) Team up! I use this method when I need outside motivation to get shit done. I have a photo buddy who I work with now and then and we connect by email or phone and set our own mini-goals for the day. Be S.M.A.R.T. about it. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). The other person keeps you in check. Check in at pre-arranged times by iChat, phone or email. Just knowing that someone is going to ask if I have gotten my XYZ done in fifteen minutes is enough to chase me off of Facebook.

5) An hour by hour schedule: When I am swamped and days are slipping by with no work getting done, I will make an hour by hour schedule. First I get all the things I need to work on or would ideally like to do scribbled down on a scrap paper. The day I started this article, I had write first draft of article, calibrate computer monitor, process wedding, work out, clean house, laundry, post office, work on taxes and write blog. I mix up physical tasks with mental tasks, and the most important things tend to get placed earlier in the day. I take into consideration daylight hours (I prefer to edit in the dark). I schedule in eating and preparing food. And I make the timeline do-able. Not too ridiculous. I usually find that I have ten minutes left over between tasks and I will surf photography forums or facebook as a little reward. The greatest benefit, if I can stick to it, is being able to turn off the computer at night and feel like I have accomplished a great deal. Plus my house is clean!

6) Workflow: If you haven’t already done this, sit down and figure out all of the steps you would like to do for each wedding or portrait that you shoot. Be exhaustive. Start at the beginning of the process when you first get an inquiry or booking. Include every step, from the first thank-you you send to your clients to gathering your information, cleaning your sensors, packing your gear, downloading, editing, processing and delivery. Include marketing steps you would like to incorporate. All of your correspondence. Write down your ideal.

Then come up a system to track everything. I use ShootQ to organize my workflow and love it. But there are tons of other tools on the market. You can utilize a dry erase board and create a grid for every task for every client. You could make a checklist and make a photocopy for each job you get and just cross off every task with a pen. Having a standardized list to follow, reminds me to give each customer the level of service that I want to give. In the middle of the season, it can be very easy to take a booking and not send out a thank-you, or to skip contacting the venues.

7) Watch TV while you work: This is crazy-talk, and comes from my own personal desperation. After I first started shooting doubles and triples, and my office chair felt like a stockade, I set up my laptop next to my desktop and picked out some old TV shows and got them playing in the background. I don’t pay too much attention to the shows, although I do glance at them from time to time. The story going in the background does two things for me. I tell myself: I am going to process this wedding for at least one show. And I get rolling. Then I watch another show and another show.

This technique also cuts through my own self-criticism, I am particularly hard on myself when I am over-tired and stressed out. If I am involved in a plot, and I come across a photo that I took that didn’t turn out like I wished it had, I just shrug and move on. I don’t get mad at myself or tell myself that I must be a terrible person because I missed the focus or the exposure or my composition was uninspired. I just do what I can to fix the image or delete it and move on. I don’t know how or why this works, but for me, it does.

I especially love going through old TV shows. I watched all of Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City as well as way too many episodes of SOAP. You know I like you now, I wouldn’t spill that little gem to just anyone. :) Pick a show that you find mildly amusing, but not one that will make you want to stop editing so you don’t miss anything.

So those are my tricks. They may seem a little redundant, but they all feel very unique to me. I would love some new tricks to put up my sleeve, so let’s hear them!

Andree Kehn, Maine Wedding Photographer


Rock Your Reception Lighting 2, The Wrap Up!

March 2nd, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

Weathering impending storms and stomach bugs, we ShootStylers held our second reception lighting workshop in Worcester last week. The sold out affair was attended by a great group of photographers from New England and NY. We want to send out a HUGE thank you to all of our participants. It’s especially lovely to see repeat attendees from previous workshops of ours! We love the love!!

Each of us went over how we do our thang at wedding receptions, when the lights are low and the pressure to produce killer images is high. An informal lecture followed hours of hands on shooting and gear explanation.

Whether it’s Andree’s light on a stick twinkie technique, Jamie and Earl’s studio light bonanza, Stacey’s one light mood lighting, or Michelle’s  and my bounce-a-thon, we all manage to skin our cats our own ways and get the job done.

Joe Ciarca from Gamut Prints, the workshop’s sponsor, was on hand to display examples of his ridiculously awesome fine art prints. A big thank you to Mark Crosby for taking these behind the scenes photos!

We hope everyone had fun and we’re looking forward to seeing you all soon during our Facebook Assignment Series, social events or workshops throughout the year!

~ Zofia, Nantucket wedding photographer


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