Kelly Marleau

Hey! I’m Kelly Marleau, a newborn and family photographer based in Edmonton, Alberta. As a completely analytical and linear thinker, it still surprises me that I stumbled into being a full time photographer!

I bought my first DSLR nine years ago as I was refinishing and selling furniture and needed better photos so the pieces would sell.

I quickly learned that furniture was a pretty static subject and so I turned my camera onto my young daughter. I fell down the family and newborn rabbit hole and haven’t come up for air since.

I’ve been in business as Fiddle Leaf Photography for seven years and have a mission to make photo sessions way less scary and way more fun. I love being able to photograph families in their home, spending time together, surrounded by all the things they love.

I used to consider myself a gear minimalist but over the last few years, I’ve started to accumulate more and have a hard time letting go of things! That being said though, I shoot with one camera body and one lens (24-70) almost exclusively and the others only get used on rare occasions.

As I’m working with clients and have to be prepared for any scenario, I always bring a backup body and all of my lenses with me to sessions.

Cameras

Nikon Z5 – I didn’t intend to go mirrorless this year, but I was in my favourite camera store to have an older camera body repaired and started looking at the Z6 (as the Z5 wasn’t released yet). Once I heard how quiet it was, how fast the focus was, and the ability to touch the LCD screen to focus and shoot, I was sold.

As I shoot very little video and really wanted the two card slots, I decided to go with the Z5 over the Z6. Once it was released I put on my favourite lens and haven’t shot with another camera since. It’s my new love.

Nikon D750 I had two D750s that I shot with interchangeably for years, but now that I’ve moved to the Z5, I have one D750 as my backup body. This camera is such a workhorse and has worked so well for me for over three years.

My favourite feature of the D750 (which the Z5 also has) is the articulating LCD screen. I didn’t think I’d use it as much as I do, but it has changed the way I’m able to shoot. It’s the VERY best for doing overhead crib shots.

Lenses

Nikon Z to F mount adaptor ring. All my lenses are still the F mount lenses so I use the adaptor when using the Z5.

NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR – This lens lives on my camera 90% of the time and it’s my absolute favourite. If I had to choose to shoot with only one lens for the rest of my life, this would be it. As I work with kids and babies, I find the 2.8 works really well for me as I don’t need to be wider than that and I love the ability to zoom without constantly running around.

I can grab three or four different shots all in one place without really having to move my feet. My only wish was that it was a bit lighter.

NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8 G – If I’m shooting in a home that is dark and I need to open up wider than 2.8, then this will be my lens of choice. I don’t use it a lot, but it’s nice to have just in case. This is also the lens I usually put on when I travel as it’s the lightest in my kit.

NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G – The newest addition to my kit. I didn’t feel the need to have an 85 until COVID 19 arrived! There are situations now where I feel like I need more space between me and my clients and so I’ll pull out the 85. It doesn’t get used too often, and when it does, it’s outdoors for family sessions.

Bags/Straps

As much as I love my cameras, I am just as passionate about my bags and straps. I actually feel like I spend much more time researching accessories than actual camera gear!

Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13” in Charcoal – This bag is just so incredibly well designed! If there’s anything I could think of to add to a bag, it’s all already in this bag. The front zip pocket with space to hold batteries with red and green stitching (so you know which is good to go and which is dead) is such a help when organizing.

I really like the ability to move the dividers inside so that everything fits snug. If I’m doing an in-home session or transporting my gear, this is the bag I use. It fits two camera bodies both with lenses on them as well as my wallet, car keys, phone and notepad.

The Backpack by Poppy Barley in Olive Canvas – This is not designed as a camera bag, but if I’m doing a session outdoors where I’m going to be moving around a lot or where I know I’m going to have to carry my gear for a long time, this is the bag I’ll bring.

It transitions from a backpack to a shoulder bag easily and has organizing pockets for a laptop and for small accessories like batteries and keys. It fits a camera body with my big 24-70 attached no problem.

Peak Design Clutch hand strap – I have these hand straps on both camera bodies and they’re just the best! They connect using the standard Peak connection system and they have the ability to adjust while on your hand. If anyone ever asks me for strap recommendations, this is the one I will always say first.

Peak Design Slide strap – This strap also uses the Peak Design connectors so it is really easy to have it and the hand strap on the same body. It has rubber grips on one side so that it doesn’t slide off your shoulder easily.

I don’t use a neck strap often and it’s usually just dangling down while I’m shooting, but if I’m ever photographing a baby overhead then I’ll put the neck strap on just in case my camera drops out of my hand.

Capturing Couture Vintage neck strap – This was my very first neck strap and more than five years later, it’s still going strong. It lives on my backup camera body.

Hardware & Software

I cull all of my images in Photo Mechanic and then pull them into Lightroom Classic to edit, and will occasionally use Photoshop for more detailed cloning.

27” iMac Retina and a 13” Macbook Pro Retina.

Misc.

Sandisk Extreme Pro and Lexar Professional SD cards in a waterproof case.

I always have small tubes of bubbles in my bag in case I need to pull them out during an outdoor session. If kids are cranky or just not giving me much energy, pulling out bubbles and giving everyone a small tube can often flip the mood around.

Pre-COVID I also would bring small candies like M+Ms or Sweethearts in case we needed a kid-bribe, but now I ask parents to bring their own.

Don’t let your gear be your limitation! I’m such a firm believer that it’s the photographer, not the gear that matters. It’s easy to get caught up in gear envy, but it’s perfectly ok to shoot on an entry-level DSLR until you know that thing inside and out and can tackle any situation. Then, you can really know what is being limited by your skills and what’s being limited by your gear and make the best buying decisions.

www.fiddle-leaf.com | @fiddleleafphoto

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