Amy Van Vlear
Hi there, I’m a wedding & portrait photographer based in Orange County, CA living with my husband John and our cat Sesame.
I like to say my style is authentic, modern and artful, for couples who are adventurous and creative at heart. I started teaching myself photography after I received an ol’ Canon Rebel XSI as a gift some 8 years ago. I took my first wedding without having previously second shot, and have been “learning on the go” ever since. I now take a combination of local and travel weddings in a given year.
Some things about how I shoot: I use natural light for as long as I can during wedding days, I try to shoot a good mixture of candid/authentic moments and artistic portraiture. I often underexpose my photos by a stop or so for better detail and color retention in post.
I spend a lot of my spare time hiking and exploring. On wedding days I’m always scouting locations, looking for good light, and am quick on my feet to document those good fleeting moments. Because of all this, I pack relatively light as far as gear goes.
Well, here it all is:
2 Canon 6Ds
I love this camera. I’ve heard complaints about the small number of focus points, but I actually manually focus about 85% of my shots (all but walking down aisle shots or heavy motion-based candids).
I use the LCD screen to focus (people say it looks unprofessional, but it gets the job done and I’m not limited to taking photos from wherever my face is). Sometimes I use the 6D’s wifi hotspot right after a wedding to drag a photo or two to my phone to edit for Instagram. I’ll likely be switching out/upgrading one of my 6Ds for a Canon 5D Mark IV in the near future for that sweet, sweet ISO.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4
The main uses are documenting getting ready photos in tight-ish quarters, establishing shots of locations, dancing photos, and the occasional epic wide portrait. Also great in a pinch if there’s a family photo of 600 people.
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II
This is my go-to on wedding days. I could shoot the whole day on it because it’s the perfect focal length while balancing documentary and artsy portrait opportunities. Main uses: getting ready, ceremony, bride/groom/bridal party/fam portraits, formal dances, detail & ring photos (in lieu of a macro because the minimum focus range is pretty good at 1 ft and I find the surroundings more interesting than up-close diamond facets).
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L II
Why is this 3LB baby in my bag when I don’t use it that often and prefer prime lenses? I use this mainly for ceremony details such as close-ups of the bride and groom’s faces, ring exchange, parents and family members’ expressions, and I also use it for guest candids so that I can be fairly removed/not distracting to my subjects. Those shots are worth it to me to keep this one around for a bit longer.
Rokinon 85mm f/1.4
This lens produces REALLY PRETTY BOKEH (better than its Canon counterpart IMO) but it is manual focus, so I mainly use it for a few ceremony shots, a few couples’ portraits, and portraits of the bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen. I’ll probably switch it out in the future for a Sigma 50mm but for now, seriously, it is REALLY PRETTY.
Fujifilm Instax 210 camera (holds Instax Wide film)
Sometimes I take a few on a wedding day and give them to the couple. Occasionally I’ll have a couple take photos of each other. It’s a fun activity and exciting to see the film develop. Adds a personal touch on a wedding day.
Speedlite 430EX II
This is literally the oldest flash ever. I bought it for my first wedding and haven’t upgraded it, but it totally gets the job done. 95% of its use is dancing photos. I usually have it set to a low power, high zoom, and drag the shutter.
Vello FreeWave LR Wireless Flash Trigger/Receiver
These rarely see the light of day (or night), but when they do it’s for back/side lighting formal dances, or a really cool artsy back/side lit night portrait. These little guys deserve a shout-out though, because they’re TINY and reliable. I have never had issues with signal/flash firing.
Pelican Memory Card Case
I used to use my plastic flash diffuser as a SD card cup, so this case changed my life. If you don’t have this case, what are you doing? At the end of the wedding day this holds everything that matters – and does it well.
Ona Bowery Bag
So, this doesn’t actually fit all my gear, but on wedding days I use it to carry a couple of lenses/batteries, and I bring it on most of my adventures because it is small but hearty & can weather the elements.
Artsy reflections and refractions.
Inside Amy’s camera bag: