"I’m a photographer and educator living in Los Angeles. I’m all about nature (camping, climbing, hiking and running around), and I have an unmanly love for cats. I’m a firm believer in fostering a close knit photo community and encouraging individual progression."
To see more of Bens beautiful work visit his website, or his fan page. You'll love seeing his gorgeous work show up in your newsfeed. Ben also offers some incredible online classes to help photographers learn about posting, directing, and lighting. I'll link those classes at the end of the blog post!
WHAT I CARRY
What I have in my gear bag and what I actually carry with me on the average shoot are very different things. I wanted to give a quick break down of what I actually have on me at shoots and weddings as well. I always carry two bodies (yay backups!) on my trusty Holdfast Moneymaker straps one with a wide lens, and one longer. At weddings, I have my 35L and 85L. That’s it, all day. I’m a big fan of simplicity so I never switch lenses, and I just carry what I need. At pretty much every other shoot (engagements, lifestyle, editorial, etc.) I have the same setup but with my 35L and 50L. If I’m shooting film as well, I’ll bring that along in a little satchel bag. Yay simplicity.
THE GEAR LIST
Something you may have noticed in this article. is that I’m not a gear nut. Not even a little bit. That’s why my equipment choices aren’t based on numbers, which lens is ever so slightly sharper than another, etc. Instead, they are based on emotions, moods, etc. Either way, I know some of you are here to see what I use (since I get so many questions about it), so I listed it out below:
CANON 5D III (x2)
Full frame, great tones, great in low light, etc. It’s everything I need. I have two bodies so I don’t have to worry about switching lenses at all during shoots or weddings. Yay simplicity!
CONTAX 645 (w/ Portra 400 or Portra 800)
I’ve had a few film cameras before picking this one up but my biggest hang up on all of the others was how it felt in my hand. As soon as I shot with a Contax, I knew it was my camera. It feels so familiar to me and, that’s hugely important to the way I create. I want to fidget with the scene, not with my camera. Having a body so similar to my 5D III’s meant I didn’t have to get used to something new.
POLAROID LAND CAMERA 195 (with Fuji 3000B or Fuji 100C)
I recently picked this one up (a day before the film was discontinued) after having someone shoot me with one while I was speaking in Spain. I’ve only shot a few frames with it so far but it’s so fun to create on something so instant and tactile.
Hello, gorgeous. This was the first lens I fell in love with. Something about this length feels so real, and lively to me. It pretty much never comes off of my camera.
This one has been slowly edging out the 35L over the past few years. I’ve heard that there are less sharp copies out there (google will help you figure out what to look for), but I didn’t get one and I couldn’t be happier with this lens. This one only comes off of my camera when I need more length (in which case I’ll grab the next lens).
CANON 85L II
Love it, but I rarely shoot it. In fact, I only shoot it when I need the length (wedding ceremony, etc.). Other than that, the 35L + 50L are glued to my cameras.
AOMETECH BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
Loud, small, and let’s me change things without digging into my bag for my phone. Win!
If rain ever stopped me from shooting when a couple was up to brave the elements, I’d feel like an idiot. This thing is simple, but perfect for what I need.
PIECES OF MAGIC
Yep, I call these my little pieces of magic. In reality, they aren’t anything more than ziploc bags, broken cups, or little crystals but when I shoot with them, they do magical things for me. About 7 years ago when I was shooting portraits of a friend under a tree, a leaf fell in front of my lens and started my love affair with shooting through things. The leaf left a soft blur over a portion of the frame that created this gorgeously soft, dreamy mood. I still use leaves every now and then but now I prefer to use clear or translucent things (like the items pictured below) to get funky reflections, catch light in a different way, or just to create a dreamy blur. To use these, I literally hold them right up against my lens hood and peaking into the frame. This creates a soft washed out blur, perfect for adding to the dreamy mood of an image or just adding a bit of visual interest.
The fun of shooting through things like this is that it’s always different and there are so many variables that can change the look completely. What I’m saying here, is to experiment. Each lens will capture this in a different way. Shooting through something on a wider lens (like my 35L) will leave a more defined shape in the frame while a longer lens like my 85L will leave more of a haze in that portion of the image. The longer the lens, the less recognizable the shape becomes. Personally, I love how it looks the most on my 50L because it’s still a clear shape, but it has a bit of that soft, hazy blur to it.
Aside from adding to the mood of an image with this trick, there is another HUGE reason I use these for. Imagine that you’re shooting a bride getting ready, but right behind her is a table full of clutter. Starbucks cups, old food, etc. Ideally, I’d clean the table but if time doesn’t allow that, frame up your shot, place your glass piece over the cluttered area, and watch it fade away into a soft blur. Win! I use this pretty often in situations like that, or even if I’m shooting portraits and need to simplify a busy part of the image. It’s honestly a lifesaver for people who crave minimalism.