Leon Villagomez

Hi there. I’m Leon, a photographer based in Arcata, CA, just about 5 hours north of San Francisco—so you can see that I live and work in the real Northern California.

For the last 8 years, I’ve been documenting destination weddings and elopements in the heart of the redwood forest or wherever a love story takes me.

The majority of my weddings and receptions are in the outdoors, sometimes far from any town or city, so while I try to have everything I could need on hand, I like to keep my gear as simple as possible without compromising my work and style.

Cameras & Lenses

I work only with prime lenses, so during weddings, I always carry two cameras: one camera with a wide angle lens and the other with a standard or medium telephoto.

For bigger weddings, or when I can’t get close easily to the action, I use the combo 35mm/85mm and, during elopements and small weddings, the combo 24mm/50mm fits me better.

Canon EOS R (x2): For many years, I worked with the Canon 5D line, but since its release in late 2018, I moved completely to Canon’s FF mirrorless system, and so far I’m really happy with my decision.

The new Canon EOS R became a tool with new options, settings, and great innovative features that made the change really enjoyable. Also, I was able to keep using my EF lenses, so the investment was relatively small.

The full frame sensor in the EOS R gives me the look and quality with which I’m familiar from my old Canon cameras but with new buttons, and with the EVF and AF System, the creativity during shooting has been refreshing.

Canon 35mm f/1.4: This is my favorite lens. A large percentage of my work during weddings happens with this lens. This focal length is so versatile that I can use it for documenting, portraits, and details. Being a fast lens and weather proof makes it perfect to stay on one of my cameras all the time.

Canon 50mm f/1.2: I normally pull out this lens during couples sessions, small group portraits, or during ceremonies where I can get close to the action. This lens is very fast, sharp, and creates beautiful bokeh in the pictures.

The 50mm f/1.2 was my first L lens and it has been with me for long time, so I have a special feeling for this particular lens.

Canon 85mm f/1.4: My favorite lens for portraits and for ceremonies where I need to keep some distance. The AF in this lens is incredibly fast and the Image Stabilization is a plus, while working in low light situations like deep inside the redwood forest (see tips) or indoors.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4: I use this lens during elopements in the redwoods or when I want to capture a really wide scene. I also use it on the dance floor during receptions.

Fujifilm X100T: My favorite camera ever. This tiny, but powerful, camera is normally with me, not only during weddings but during my every day life.

The 23mm f/2 (35mm FF equivalent) is really versatile. I started to bring this camera to my weddings because of the WIFI capabilities and, even now that Canon has bluetooth and the X100T stays, more often, in my bag as a backup, it still makes appearances during some events.

It’s a great camera to capture candid pictures, and, during portraits, it helps to make my clients laugh since they see it as a toy camera without knowing that some of my favorite wedding pictures have come from this little beast.

Fujinon TCL-X100: The complement to the X100T. It turns the 35mm native lens into a 50mm lens (FF Equivalent) which makes it ideal for portraits. I bring this lens as a backup, so it normally stays in my bag during events.

Lighting

Normally, my weddings are during the day, so I work with natural light most of the time. For the couples portrait session, or during elopements, I barely (if ever) use flashes. But during receptions, and, occasionally for some group portraits, I need the help of a flash or LED light. Here is what comes with me:

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: I normally use this speedlite as an off-camera flash, since it has wireless radio transmission. I only use this flash during the reception, especially during the couple’s first dance and party in general.

Orlit ST-RT TTL 2.4GHz Wireless Transmitter: The complement to trigger the 600EX-RT. After trying a few brands, I decided Orlit was my best option.

I like I can change all settings of the flash directly from the camera. It also supports ETTL, and it has long range connectivity. It’s small, affordable, and easy to use.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II: I use this flash during receptions and on the dance floor. It helps me capture slow shutter action pictures and also can be ready for any requested group portrait during the reception.

Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 On-Camera LED: This little LED stays in my pocket during the reception and is great to light details or even a full scene. It has 3 different intensities and the internal rechargeable battery, through mini USB, makes it the perfect pocket light.

Extras

Besides cameras, lenses, and flashes, here are some accessories that comes with me during the weddings and that I find as essentials to bring with me:

Canon LP-E6N (x4): I carry in my bag 4 additional batteries. I can get up to 16 hours of coverage with my current gear. I like using the original Canon brand batteries since I feel they last longer than third party brands.

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC (x12): I always have more cards than I would need but I like having them with me just in case. I use 170MB/S speed in my cards.

Langly memory card case: I love this case since I can carry and keep my cards organized during the day. The model I have is currently discontinued, but the new one looks pretty cool.

Fujifilm INSTAX SP-2: This little printer has been part of my gear since its launch back in the summer of 2016. I just love giving prints to my clients during their wedding day, so I always like to have the printer loaded with film in my bag for each wedding.

Rode Wireless Go Microphone: It’s not common for me to work with professional videographers and even when the photos will keep memories forever, I realize audio is the best way to remember the ceremony, so, for this last season, I’ve been recording, in audio, the ceremonies and sending it to my clients, as a surprise.

I normally clip the microphone into the lapel of the officiant or any discreet place near the ceremony site and keep the receiver in my bag during recording.

Omars Power Bank: Wedding days can be long, so I like to be able to charge my phone on-the-go or even my cameras (Yes, I can charge the Canon EOS R with the USB C cable), if needed.

The 10000mAh allows me to charge my iPhone up to 2 times and even a big percentage of battery in my cameras. It could save the day in any emergency.

iPhone: I’m currently using my phone during weddings to have the schedule of the day, keep the family portraits list in order, and to quick edit and print images with the INSTAX SP-2. Also, it’s also useful for recording short video clips for IG stories. Except for that, it stays in my pocket the rest of the wedding in silent mode.

Business card case: I like to have my business cards handy, when needed. I have a tin can that’s the perfect size for my cards.

HoldFast strap: This double camera strap has been a wonderful addition to my gear and a great help for my back and shoulders during long weddings. I can easily carry 2 cameras with different lenses and never miss a shot while still feeling comfortable after hours.

And not pictured, but with me most of the time since I work frequently in the redwood forest: A good pair of hiking boots, a rain jacket, mosquito repellent, sun screen, an energy bar, Advil, water bottle, and an extra pair of socks.

www.leonvillagomez.com | @leonvillagomez

 

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