I’m a Canon girl, let’s just get that out of the way!  My first film SLR was a Canon so I have brand loyalty.  Ironically my film camera right now is a Nikon!  Whichever brand you choose is up to you and I’m not getting anywhere near the Canon vs Nikon debate 😉

So here is what is in my bag!

2 Canon 5D’s (original Mark I)  I decided that I’d rather take $2500 and get a a Canon L lens along with the original 5D body for my backup instead of getting the new 5D Mark II.  I’m holding out for the Mark III 🙂

50mm 1.2-  This is hands down my favorite lens.  I think this just comes from the fact that I went all through my college classes with a 50mm lens.  I love it!  The 1.2 aperture can be a lifesaver in a dark church. What I really love about this lens is the dreamy quality it gives my photos. Everything is so smooth and creamy with it. I had the 50 1.4 before and I loved it too but the 1.2 is in a different category.

100mm 2.8 macro- Perfect lens for the close up details like ring shots! I’m thinking about upgrading to the new 100mm L version because this lens also works great for portraits and I’d like to have the L quality I love in this lens too!

28mm 1.8- Great for the wide angle shots during the dancing and for scene setting during the ceremony. I’m itching to upgrade to get another stop of light either the 24 1.4 or the 35 1.4 but that will be a 2012 purchase. For now I get great results with my little 28mm!

28-75mm 2.8- I use this for pet shoots since dogs are always moving quickly!  David loves this lens because he can sit in one spot and zoom in and out to capture whatever he sees going on at the reception.

70-200mm 2.8- Those times you can’t get close the bride and groom during a wedding this is the lens you need.  It is a heavy beast but it will save you on more then one occasion I promise! I use it anytime I get stuck in a church balcony or the back row. Being a 2.8 is a huge deal when you are in a dark church.

430EXII Flash Unit

580EXII Flash Unit

Canon Flash battery pack

Sekonic L-358 light meter

Battery chargers, extra batteries for cameras and flashes.  Emergency kit with sewing tools, breath mints, aspirin and a lint roller!

thinktank airport takeoff canon equipment


Let’s talk bags!

Some women buy shoes and some purses I like to buy camera bags.  I have three that I currently use, I know that sounds crazy but they each have a purpose!  For portrait sessions and when I want to travel light I grab my Epiphanie bag Lola in Turquiose.  She looks stylish and no one realizes she is holding one of my Canon 5d’s, 2-3 lenses, plus my wallet and cell phone.  I love that it has long straps to wear over my shoulder or I can use the cross body strap.  I get so many compliments on my beautiful bag and people are shocked to find out it is a camera bag!

Weddings are a different ballgame because I need to pack a lot more equipment and I need a much bigger bag.  For those I bring out my ThinkTank Airport Takeoff and after a quick internet search I was able to arrange all the nice dividers so everything fits and there is room to add more 😉  Now according to the Thinktank website this size bag should fit in the overhead bin as a carry-on, my mother in law who is a flight attendant disagrees with me 🙂  We agreed that on some of the smaller planes it will not fit in the overhead compartment but I will be the pain in the butt passenger that refuses to check my equipment, let’s hope I never have an issue!

Now while I’m shooting a wedding I love love love my ShootSac by Jessica Claire.  I can carry several lenses at one time in a bag that hugs my body and protects the equipment without being in the way.  The stylish covers are a nice bonus to help dress up!

epiphanie lola bag shootsac polka-dot-shootsac-cover-turquoise-epiphanie-photographer-bag

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  • ShellyJuly 26, 2011 - 4:20 pm

    This is AWESOME!! Thank you so much for letting us take a peek into your bag (which is adorable by the way)! For those of us just starting out and mostly doing family portraits/engagments which lens would you recommend the most!! Thanks again!

  • melissaJuly 26, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    I recommend the 50mm lens, you can get a 1.8 for around $100 I think and see if you like that length. A lot of people love the 85 1.8 but I just never found myself using it. My 50mm 1.2 is my FAVORITE lens ever!!! 🙂

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Melissa Arlena is an award winning Richmond and Charlottesville photographer. She recently earned her Master Photographer Certification in the Maternity, Newborn & Family categories from the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. Melissa offers maternity, lifestyle newborn, and family photography in her relaxed, natural, and joyful style.


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