Leah Haydock

My name is Leah Haydock and I’m a New England wedding photographer – Boston and Cape Cod up to Portland, Maine. I shoot a lot of big city ballroom weddings with 250+ people but when I’m not shooting I’m happiest chilling with my husband and our two mini-wiener dogs at our lake house in Maine.

I was kind of late to the photography game getting my first DSLR (Nikon D300) at the age of 30. I had zero interest in photographing weddings and after spending way too much money on education and equipment I found myself shooting quite a lot of corporate events and work. And then I got married in Las Vegas of all places and our wedding photographs blew my mind.

I got home to New England and volunteered to second shoot for free with anyone that would have me along for the ride. I saw all sorts of awesome things and all sorts of terrible things (guerilla-style belly crawling up the aisle whilst firing off shots left and right – oh dear). I was bitten by the wedding bug and left a pretty great corporate job with all kinds of benefits to become a wedding photographer in the middle of the worst recession this country has seen in years.

I haven’t regretted it for a moment. Yes, there are those days that suck being in front of the computer for hours or photographing 60+ combinations of family portraits in 100 degree heat but I love the freedom, creativity and the fact I can spend most of my days in my pajamas. My photography appeals to the couple that want elegant, timeless and beautiful images (hence a lot of big ballroom weddings!) My favorite couples are super excited about their wedding day but just as excited about every day that will follow in their marriage.

I bring waaaaay too much equipment to each wedding but I feel more relaxed knowing I’ve got that rarely used tilt-shift lens should the urge strike me. My Holdfast Money Maker camera strap carries a Nikon D4 and D3s. For getting ready, first look and portraits I’ll usually shoot with the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 85mm f/1.4. I usually shoot at least 40% of wedding day images with my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 – I love the flattering focal length and the sharpness.

I’ll bust out the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro for a few shots of the wedding rings and jewelry and light them with a little litepanel LED light (I also use this at the reception to add a little pop to the detail pictures of the cake, centerpiece, menus etc). I photograph a lot of weddings in big old historic and DARK churches with pretty strict movement/flash restrictions so I adore the high ISO capability of the Nikon D3s and Nikon D4. The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 are my go-to for the ceremony as they enable me to get a variety of images without too much movement.

I have an awesome photography assistant (Audrey) who sets up my lights for the reception (and takes some pretty sweet shots herself); I use mostly Nikon SB-900 speedlights on lightstands with Pocket Wizards to control them for my off-camera flash set up. I want my off-camera lights to add a little more dimension to the shot and I’ll use an on-camera flash to provide a little fill.

I’m a big fan of heading out at night for 5 minutes to get some romantic night time images and I’m in love with the Lowel GL-1 Power LED Light. It can be zoomed, dimmed and the light quality is just beautiful. Finally I have a couple of cheap walkie-talkies from Wal-mart that allow me to coordinate first looks and other plans with my assistant and they’re pretty invaluable. All of this equipment is carried in a Think Tank Airport International V2 rolling bag and I have a Shootsac on me to carry a couple of lenses.

www.leahhaydock.com

Inside Leah’s camera bag:

9 Comments

  • Thanks for asking me to submit the contents of my bag! It was fun to see it all laid out. I’ve had a couple of emails and questions from people asking if I really use everything in my bag. The answer is definitely not! For about 65% of the day I’m using my 85mm and 35mm. The rest of the time I’ll maybe use my macro for a few ring shots and maybe a 70-200mm if I’m banished to the back of the church. I’m also big on having back up equipment so a bunch of stuff is there just in case.

    Great site – I love seeing what everyone else carries!

  • Yes! I also love shooting weddings with my 85mm. It really is a great lens. How does the Lowel LED light work? I have been thinking about getting one because it seems like something handy to have in my kit.

  • After having my sb900 dropped on it’s head and my main camera hiccup during a wedding, Leah’s gear bag looks like a brilliant idea! I’m also stoked to learn more about off camera flash, another good reason to have a few extras in my bag. Thanks for sharing!

  • Preparation is key to successful wedding photography and it looks like you have all bases covered.

    Sadly we see folks jump into wedding photography with only one of some crucial bit of equipment and when that one thing fails they don’t get the shot. It is only a matter of time, not a matter of luck that equipment WILL fail at a wedding and usually just before the bride comes down the aisle or just before the kiss. The true marque of a professional that we don’t let them see us sweat, and simple pull out a redundant bit of kit that will allow us to make the photograph that our clients will cherish forever anyhow. No such thing as being ‘over prepared’ as long as you have enough people to manage the extra gear.

    Your work speaks for itself.

  • Thank-you for sharing Leah. A true professional would never attempt to photograph these types of events without plenty of back up equipment.
    Equipment eventually will fail, but when it does a pro is prepared. Thank-you also for being so open with which lenses you prefer and at which times during your events. Great article!

  • Leah, Thank you for the post! It inspired me to get a third camera into the mix just in case! I love your lighting–I am thinking I should try a system like this! It is the testament of a true professional to always have the back up gear needed! Plus that way you can offer professional gear to an assistant if they don’t have it! Great work!!!

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