Hi all, I’m Jacquelyn Portolese. Everybody calls me Jaki! I’m based in the Pacific Northwest, and have been taking pictures for more than half my life. But wedding photography stole my heart and became my passion about a decade ago.
My team is comprised of myself, my best friend Melanie – who I coincidentally met on a high school photo club field trip – and sometimes my curly sidekick, Adi the labradoodle. Together, we turn milestones into masterpieces, capture the memories our clients make, and even the moments they missed.
I’ve been a diehard Canon user since my dad gave me his old rangefinder for Christmas 2003. When I got my first Canon DSLR for my 16th birthday, I thought I had everything. I often wonder what teenage me would think if she saw what future me was working with.
Canon 5D Mk IV (x2)
I’m dual-wielding two Canon 5D Mk IVs on either side of my camera harness. I rock two of the same body because I use both equally and love the consistency while I edit. I’ve been a Canon gal since day one, so it only makes sense I would choose Canon’s leading camera for wedding photography.
DJI Mavic Pro
What started off as a novelty toy for outdoor adventures quickly worked its way into my brand as something I’m known for. I love photographing natural patterns from a bird’s eye view, and bringing that into wedding photography has been such a blast.
While its photo quality, max resolution and dynamic range is nothing to write home about, the Mavic Pro’s ability to shoot in RAW makes it possible to push and pull those imperfections into something you could consider a masterpiece.
AKA the love of my life and always at my right hand. For years, I was shooting weddings and engagements almost entirely with this one lens and couldn’t have been happier. It produces incredible portraits, both up close and at a distance.
A big part of my personal style is having plenty of environmental context, so the ability to get up close and personal with my clients and still maintain that background detail is important to me. Not to mention it’s tack sharp, fast as all heck and performs wonderfully in low light. Even in the tightest ceremony and reception spaces, it’s oftentimes as wide as I ever need to go.
Canon 85mm f/1.4
Where have you been all my life? This is my most recent lens purchase and has joined my Canon 35mm on the left-hand side of my harness as my other half.
The 85mm focal length has been a perfect middle ground between bokeh and still maintaining that background detail I love so much. My favorite time to use this is in full-body portraits, bridal party and family formal photos. It also lets me get up close and personal at ceremonies without physically being up close and personal!
Canon 135mm f/2
My go-to for candid photos at cocktail hour and wedding receptions. I find the 85mm is a little too close for comfort, and guests inevitably end up noticing me. Being able to “snipe” from afar makes getting those natural reactions to scintillating conversation that much easier. Additionally, it’s really good at making far away things (e.g. mountains) look really big!
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART
Ever since the 85mm came into my life, the 50mm has, for the most part, stayed in my bag during weddings. But I hold onto it dearly because there’s just something about the 50mm that no other lens has. It’s no surprise that this focal length, being so true to what we see with the human eye, is so excellent for those close crop portraits. Its lack of distortion makes it superior to all my other lenses when it comes to stationary and wedding detail flatlays (and I love my flatlays!)
Sigma 20mm f/1.4 ART
There is definitely a time and a place for such an ultra-wide lens in wedding photography, and it’s not often. When that time inevitably comes, I feel so grateful to have this focal length at my fingertips! A lot of wedding photography is planning for the worst case scenario, and there’s nothing quite like the pain of realizing you’re in too close of quarters when the groom is getting ready in a literal shed, or the ceremony is in a tiny corner of a bar. It also flourishes on a crowded dance floor!
Flashpoint Zoom Li-on R2
What a game-changer it has been to switch to a flash with a rechargeable battery. The Li-on R2 almost never runs out of juice, and you could probably get away with shooting three or more weddings in a row without even having to charge it. The built-in receiver is also a very welcome touch.
I don’t know what it is about the MagSphere, but it just diffuses the light so beautifully.
Yes, it pinches my arms a little bit, but even weight distribution and the fact it looks DAMN SEXY makes it all worth it. The MoneyMaker (and harnesses in general) is also a new addition to my gear as of this year and I cannot say enough great things about it. Even weight distribution and the convenience of being able to switch between bodies in seconds makes getting two completely different perspectives of the same moment a breeze.
ThinkTank Airport International V3.0
What a game-changer switching to a bag on wheels has been! This bad boy somehow fits my two bodies, harness, all five of my lenses, my drone and its controller, my flash, and all the batteries and chargers I need. Staying organized, storage, and getting from A to Z has been made so easy with this bag.
This majestic traffic cone-colored single strap backpack deserves its own full review. I originally purchased it as my travel backpack and to serve as my personal item on flights. It’s also assumed the position of “drone and backup lens bag” while I’m out on the field at weddings or engagements. It helps me keep my hands free for cameras and doesn’t get tangled in my harness. Its greatest perk is that it opens from the side, so you can easily access its contents without having to dig and dig.
🎒 Related: Best Camera Backpack of the Year
Hardware & Software
I use Lightroom for just about everything. Importing as smart previews and storing them on DropBox allows me to bring my laptop and edit from just about anywhere, even if I don’t have my portable hard drive.
🎨 Related: Best Way to Buy Lightroom
Macbook Pro 15.4-inch (2017)
One of my favorite things in life is working in coffee shops. I happen to live in an apartment just above my favorite one (Cafe Solstice, thanks for asking). There’s just something about the quiet buzz of a crowded space filled with distractions that keeps me focused.
Western Digital 4TB Hard Drive
Or as I’ve named it, “Go HD.” This little guy holds a copy of everything I’m currently working on and goes everywhere my Macbook Pro goes. I love that it’s compact, lightweight, and fits right in the laptop bag.
My own presets
The digital darkroom is one of my favorite parts of the trade, and I’ve realized that letting someone else’s presets to do the work was not nearly as fulfilling to me. I’ve since created my own, which I have fondly named “RONAN” after my cat.
Adi the Labradoodle
I’m not just paying the dog tax – Adi is a member of the team, too! After bringing her to a mini session one day, I was so shocked at what an amazing partner she was. She sticks right by my side (the occasional zoomies peppered in), somehow knows to stay out of the shot, and makes my couples smile from ear to ear. Since then, she has been officially added as one of my staff members on my website, and is always available by request to help break the ice during engagement sessions.
Realistically, Luna Bars are my bar of choice because I had named my kitten “Luna” when I was a little girl.
Up until the last two or so years, I prided myself on being a minimalist when it comes to photography gear. It was only once I started adding all these variations of focal lengths to my ensemble that I realized my true potential and what I could create.
As of two months ago when the Canon 85mm joined the others in my camera bag, I officially feel as though I have my dream team. I love that I never have to say, “I wish I could…” anymore.