I’m Dylan M Howell, a photographer based in Portland, Oregon. I photograph humans in love and people doing the things that make them happy. I’ve had a small obsession with gear since picking up a camera. Always wondering what could be done with a different lens, film, or body. It has lead to a quite diverse array of equipment in my bag.
My everyday camera is the Fuji X100t. I take it everywhere I go and generally have it with me at all times. Having this camera has lead to me documenting my personal life in a much better way. I was too lazy to drag my DSLR around and not happy enough with my iPhone’s photos to pull it out all time. I dig the EVF, the lack of interchangeable lenses, its silence and unobtrusiveness. Plus, the files are gorgeous.
My main wedding camera is the Canon 5D Mark III. I’ve tried every major body and I always come back to this. There are a few drawbacks to shooting Canon at the moment, mainly with autofocus performance, but you absolutely cannot beat the color and skin tones when paired with their stunning lenses. I don’t find myself having issues with the high ISO performance or small lack of dynamic range because the photos that really matter to me just flat look better and are easier to edit.
The lenses I use:
Canon 24mm f/1.4 L – I love using this lens in vast landscapes. I also dig to get in close with this, really in the action. It is definitely my go-to reception coverage lens. This is the only lens where I don’t see a single difference between it and the competing Sigma ART other than cost. Get the cheaper one.
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L – My go-to documentary lens. I throw this on early in the day for getting ready and for the majority of the ceremony and cocktail hour. I also use this for portraits quite often. Allowing more field of view than a 50mm, without the distortion of a 24mm.
Canon 40mm f/2.8 Pancake – One of my favorite lenses. I take this on personal shoots if I bring the Canon because of its small size and universal focal length. It has the same gorgeous colors as the L series lenses — rich skin tones with a hint of magenta. I’ve started to use this on wedding days more and more.
Canon 45mm f/2.8 Tilt – When I want to tilt or shift. Stunning lens flares. Beautiful warm magenta tones. I’ll use this when I think the tilt or shift will positively affect the image or bring something different to the table. I like that look, as played out as it may be.
Canon 50mm f/1.2 L – If I could have one lens, it would probably be this one. It is definitely the first lens where I took a photo with it new out of the box and instantly I was blown away, you could see the differences on the back of the camera. creamy bokeh, DOF for days, beautiful tones, quick and quiet AF, lack of distortion. It’s definitely one of Canon’s best.
Canon 85mm f/1.2 L – I use this and the 35mm for much of the day, it allows me to reach out to the moments I might be too far away to capture with the 35mm. I can frame tight on the ceremony without impeding on guest’s views. I love to use it for Brenizer method portraits and to bring epic scenery in when I’m out in nature. It’s definitely heavy, slow, and expensive, but beautiful. I tried to love the Sigma version, but found it sterile in comparison.
Canon 135mm f/2 L – I typically only pull this out during the ceremony, usually if I’m stuck shooting farther away from the action than I want to be. I’ve used it in portraits to get something I like a few times, but I generally gravitate to the wider end of the focal range.
For weddings I also use the Canon 580EXII flashes, I’m not a big strobist so the new 600’s haven’t really interested me. I generally use these on camera, bouncing off of the ceiling or whatever I can find. Or straight at the subject when the party starts to get down.
I usually bring a film camera or two to weddings, but they are mostly for my personal work or documenting my own life.
Leica M3 – I love looking at this camera, the way it feels, the beautiful rangefinder, and the incredible Leica 50mm f/2 dual range lens that I have on it. This had been my go to “personal work” camera for the past year or so.
Canon EOS 3 – For when I want to shoot film and feel like I’m shooting digital, or just want to use my Canon lenses. Or feel like I’m from the future with it’s eye control autofocus.
Nikon FE2 – My first camera. My parents gave it to me so I could take a photography darkroom class in 7th grade. I recently started shooting it again, especially with the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 lens.
Pentax 67 – The best medium format camera I’ve shot. Feels like an oversized 35mm SLR, simple controls, gorgeous lenses, and a huge negative.
Speed Graphic 4×5 w/ Aero Ektar lens – I’ve been dreaming of this camera for years – then I got it. It is hard work. I don’t usually shoot with a tripod and it was too difficult (impossible) for me to get in-focus shots without one. Maybe I need to re-calibrate the rangefinder. I want nothing more than to create rad images with this camera, so I’ll keep trying.
Nikonos II – Underwater film camera! So much fun. I’ve been shooting this every time I can get in the water. It is definitely a learning experience. The shutter release is a bit awkward for me – I seem to shake the camera almost every time I expose a frame – but I’m learning (and bumping the shutter speeds up). The #nikonosproject hashtag on Instagram is super inspiring and definitely pushed me to take it out and shoot.
Various point and shoots or toy cameras – not in the photo but always at the party. I like these for times when you’re hanging with friends or going on little hikes and don’t want to carry something made of solid brass.
Poler Stuff’s Retro Rucksack – Holds all of my clothes, has a laptop sleeve, a top pocket for all of my film and two side pods that I stuff flashes and the 135mm lens in when I’m traveling. Fits in any airplane’s overhead bins with a bit of muscle.
Ona Brixton – I always have this camera messenger bag with me. It’s stylish, functional, and built to last. Day to day it carries my laptop and Fuji X100t, on a wedding day or shoot it has a body and three lenses. Between it and my backpack I can fit everything I need to shoot weddings and travel. Never needing to check a bag is quite nice.
Hold Fast Money Maker – I use this for wedding days. It works nicely to hold a single camera in the morning and then dual bodies for the ceremony. I instantly stopped having back pain during long wedding days when I got this strap. Plus I get comments about it looking rad, guaranteed.
The gear is super fun. It keeps me interested in photography if I’m feeling at all burnt out on the business side. Going out and playing with something new is always going to be a good time, and with photography gear there is always something new (or old!) to try.